I first learned of these tests in a book titled Where Great Teaching Begins: Planning for Student Thinking and Learning written by Anne Reeves and published by ASCD. Running through all four tests, one after another, has allowed me to quickly assess the quality of my goals. I hope you find them just as useful.
“At the end of this lesson….”
Add this statement to the beginning of a goal and see whether or not the goal still makes sense. Anne Reeves gives a poor example –“At the end of this lesson students will take notes from a PowerPoint lecture” and a good one –“At the end of this lesson, students will explain how five or more local businesses have come into existence as a result of urbanization.”
Imagine your students going home and saying, “Hey Dad (Mom/Uncle Joe…) watch me (or listen to me)….” What aspects of learning would a successful student be able to show off? This is a good test for catching vague terms and making sure you are identifying the kind of thinking you expect students to do. For example, “Hey Dad, listen to me understand the importance of the periodic table” isn’t as helpful as “Hey Dad, listen to me explain the importance of the periodic table.”
Ask yourself if students need meaningful knowledge of the subject matter in order to achieve the goal. If they don’t, the statement may be an activity. For example, “Students will explore the local art gallery in an upcoming field trip” is an activity statement; it does not specify learning.
Put yourself in your students’ place and imagine reflecting on the goal statement at the end of class. Are you able to state specifically what you have learned and what you are still having difficulty with?