Introductory Challenge

In this unit on learning targets and advance organizers, you will learn how educators preview a lesson or series of lessons to maximize students’ likelihood of successful mastery of new concepts and skills. As you read and think about learning targets and advance organizers used by teachers in the classroom, consider how you have used or encountered similar previews in your own life outside of school. For example, weight-loss and other self-help advice often talks about the importance of writing down goals to use as “targets” to help focus efforts for self-improvement. If you watch television, you may have noticed that episodes of television series sometimes begin with a summary of the previous episodes as an “advance organizer” to provide a context for the episode about to be shown. Yet another example of a preview that you might have encountered is in entering a recreational or fitness program.  These and other programs often provide an orientation at the beginning of the program so that participants can use the program’s resources effectively.

As a way to start thinking about the value of learning targets and advance organizers, try the following quick exercise. Walk into a class in the middle of an instructional period. Observe for about five minutes. Then write down what you might have wanted to know in order to help you understand the main point of the lesson. How would you have preferred to receive this information—as a written narrative, a picture or illustration, a set of bullet points? [Note: If you don’t have access to a classroom, you can have a similar experience by watching a 30-minute documentary video after fast-forwarding past the first 10 minutes or so.]