Ideas for Posting Your Daily “I CAN” Objectives


The Question:

 I am reading Teach Like a Champion, and the author emphasizes the importance of writing and POSTING specific, measurable objectives for each lesson (not just the unit).

I do believe this is valuable, and I totally get it for a middle or high school classroom, but I am struggling with how to apply this in an elementary classroom, where we can have about 8 objectives throughout the day.

Not only will I use a load of sentence strips to display 8 different objectives each day, but … am I going to take them down and switch them 8 times throughout the day?

We are required to have a focus wall that displays the standards we are focused on for the unit of study or the unit objectives, but I can’t imagine changing those daily.

Maybe I just need to suck it up and do it for the benefit of more effective teaching? Does anyone have a resource that addresses posting objectives in the elementary classroom or advice on how you do it?


The Answers:


We are required to do that also. but its more of a question/essential question (which is based on our objective). I have my schedule on magnets on the board so the kindergarteners can follow the schedule, then next to the subject, I write the essential question and/or the objective. It does get the students to focus on what we are learning about. Some days our objective will change, somedays it will be the same for a few days but we review it everyday before the lesson.

A simple fix…keep all 8 numbered in a smart notebook file to reference throughout the day. I also use picture frames with I can at the top. When I introduce a lesson I complete the I can statement with a dry erase marker. I have two up and I change them frequently during the day.
I am in the process of breaking down each standard into “I can” statements. Then I will be using a bulletin board and posting the skills of the week. Each day I will use an arrow to highlight the skills we will be working on. It will be referenced at the beginning of the lesson
I use a web. In the middle I write “Today I will be able to….” And then write each objective around the web.
I use picture frames and write on top with dry erase markers. I have 4 frames- literacy, math, theme (social studies or science depending on what fits) and religion since we are a Catholic school. Works well and the kids reminded me if I forgot to write it up there
We have focus wall posters for our reading curriculum…I hang that. Then I have two whiteboards–one for writing and one for math. I can then easily write and erase the objective for the unit. I then make sure I break down the daily objective by “stating” it in my lesson. My principal has approved this process.
You can buy standard sets to use for this–maybe at really good stuff? I write mine in chalk on a special section of the blackboard and then change then daily. Many times the same standard will remain for a day or two.
Latisia Craig's photo.
Carson Dellosa has a wonderful resource for this! They have a boxed set of sentence strip cards for the Common Core standards for each of the elementary grades. The standards are on one side, and the “I Can” statements on the other. Just find the ones you need and pop ’em in a pocket chart. Quick and easy. They run about $20 – worth it to me when I have so many other things to worry about during my day!
I use a PowerPoint for my objectives. Quick, easy to change/manipulate, and cute. It’s out of the way on the wall-mounted ancient TV, and one of the kids can click to the next one as a job.
Teachers pay teachers also have I Can statement cards
These are available on TPT. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
I use electrical tape to create a grid on the board, and I just use dry erase markers to change the objectives daily. It’s a good 5-10 minute daily process in the morning but it helps me be mentally prepared for all the lessons too! The grid has a small column for the subject name on the left, the next column is labeled “today we will learn…” and lists objectives for each subject. The third column is titled “my work will be to…” so I list the activities the children will be doing to practice the objective. So as an example, the first row of my grid reads “Math” “today we will learn to identify and create circles.” “Our work will be to find circles in the classroom, trace real circle shapes, and draw our own circles to make a snowman.” Hope this helps! It keeps me focused through the day and is also posted for all admin, leaders, and coaches walking in the room. I never have to explain what I’m doing because it is posted. In January, the best readers start our lessons by reading the objective board for the class. Super impressive!
Sounds like a lot of busy work for all of you. What happens if a student gets something different out of your lesson? Are you allowed to deviate and embrace that- or do you have to steer the lesson back to whatever you have on your board/grid/chart/list?
My problem is wall space. With everything we’re supposed to have posted (the list is exhausting) there are maybe 6 square inches left!
There are magnetic sentence strips and I just erase the objectives and rewrite when needed.
We just dedicated one white board to the goal and listed them all at the beginning of the day, one per subject. However, I was at a conference where the presenter had a different opinion about posting goals, saying that you lose the low kids by doing that. They walk in and feel overwhelmed before you’ve even started or hooked them, and give up. I guess you have to know your kids and what they need.
Hmm…I find the comment about busy work interesting. The whole point of posting objectives is so everyone, teachers and students, understand what students are expected to learn, can evaluate if the goal was achieved, and use the results to plan future lessons. Have you ever used a road map or GPS to get to where you want to go? Same thing. Good teachers teach with a clear understanding of where they’re going. Can unexpected learning take place along the way? Certainly! Do teachers take advantage of a teachable moment? Absolutely! Quality teaching is not busy work – but it is hard work. I applaud teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to assure success for all students.
I’ve read Teach for a Champion. It was assigned by our principal. I wish he had assigned another book! It was really geared for middle and high school.
In primary, posting objectives/learning targets is more for the teacher than the student. In upper elementary-secondary, it benefits the student, IMO.
Curriculum also has “I Can” statements for primary grades.
I think the I can statements are more appropriate for kindergarten or we will learn about … As kindergarten teachers we constantly adapt & go with the needs of our class each day. We are organized & planned & prepared & developmentally appropriate . It’s very tiring when administrators make demands/suggestions without understanding early childhood … And yes, kindergarten is still early childhood.
The blog Mrs. Wills Kindergarten just did a piece about focus walls and different ways of posting I Can statements at an elementary level. In Kindergarten I focus on the main subjects and what we are learning in each: Math, Reading, Writing, Theme, and Phonics.
I CAN statements are powerful in kinder, I do 1 or 2 statements each day on main subject. Also, if you are doing CCSS, they have a box made you can purchase with pre-made I CAN statements for each standard…makes it easy to just put those on the board
I am posting some photos of how to simplify from other teachers’ rooms:
Jocelyn Olson's photo.     Jocelyn Olson's photo.     Jocelyn Olson's photo.
I used both magnetic dry erase sentence strips and later a larger lined dry erase board and posted my learning targets for each subject. Many times, my learning target was the same for a week for certain subjects (ie: decode CVC words). It really wasn’t too bad to change them. I already had them written in my lessons plans so when I was writing my morning message, I just changed them at the same time.
I type them up with picture clues for each lesson (Reading, math, writing, phonics). I put these in sheet protectors and keep them in a binder. Next year when I get to that unit, I just pull it out of the binder and put it back up on the whiteboard with magnet.

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