How to use lesson objectives effectively

March 14, 2016


I like running. Twice a week I’ll run a distance somewhere between 5K and 10K.

Or at least I try to.

Yet I find that I don’t do it when

  • it’s raining
  • it’s cold outside
  • I feel tired

Motivation is a thing here.

I recently signed up for a run in Rotterdam, and with a clear goal before me (10K in less than 50 minutes) and an obvious deadline (the day of the run) I find it a lot easier to motivate myself.

And somehow I do not think this only applies to me. It works for everyone, including your students!

Why set lesson objectives?

Whenever I talk with teachers about their lessons and ask them about their lesson objectives, most reply they already use it. I even noticed that in England teachers have the objectives on every slide of their PowerPoint when they teach, to make sure students know the ‘why’ and will be more motivated.

I think this is great. By setting clear lesson objectives, students know why their are learning something and are more motivated to study.

This is not just me doing some wishful thinking. In a recent study at our school students were asked what they would like to change or improve in school and many mentioned they wanted to see more of these lesson objectives, so they knew what was expected of them and why they were doing what they were doing.

It’s the least we can do to increase motivation. And it’s not hard at all!

Well formulated lesson objectives

A common mistake is setting goals that are too big or unclear. Just stating “Pythagoras’ Theorem” as a topic of a lesson is not quite enough.

I like to approach a lesson objective in two ways:

  1. At the end of this lesson you know …
  2. At the end of this lesson you can …

The obvious difference being the knowledge students will have gained and the skills they will have mastered. This not only clarifies the objectives, it also makes it a lot easier to reflect upon them at the end of a lesson.

Language objectives

So far so good, but how is this CLIL? Enter: language objectives!

Because language is such an important part of our lessons, they should also be a part of our lesson objectives. (Don’t worry, you know I don’t like preparing my lessons in a way that it costs me more than an hour. Actually, I quite often set these objectives minutes before the students enter class).

Just use the same way of formulating your language objectives as I showed above, but integrate language:

  1. At the end of this lesson you know what … is
  2. At the end of this lesson you can explain in your own words what … means

If you want, you can even integrate some grammar rules. But that’s not really my cup of tea.

Reflecting upon the objectives 

Okay, you are all set. Lesson objectives: Check. Language objectives: Check.

But without a proper close of the lesson, the objectives will not have a lot of influence.

I already discussed reflecting at the end of your lesson in another post, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say: simply ask your students if they feel they reached the goals. This can be a direct question or a small task in which they show their new gained knowledge.

One last tip: Make sure you don’t ask only two or three students. Ask all of your students to write down the answers to the questions you post and only afterwards ask a couple of them. You can even ask everyone to raise their hands and as soon as they hear similar answers ask them to lower their hands. That way you quickly cover a lot of different answers and everyone is engaged.


I hope you liked this article! Feel free to share it or respond to it in any way. I would love to hear your opinion about this.

  • Have been having problem on how can I effectively use lesson objectives to engage students in learning, but having come across your work I feel ready to go.

  • Great post! The use of lesson objectives is a crucial aspect of effective teaching and it’s great to see the focus on this topic. I especially appreciated the tip about making sure the objectives are specific, measurable, and relevant to the students.

    Another actionable tip I would add is to involve students in the process of setting and evaluating the objectives. This could involve having them create their own learning goals or asking for their feedback on the objectives to ensure they feel engaged and invested in their own learning.

    It’s also important to align the objectives with the broader curriculum and assessment goals. This can help to ensure that the objectives are relevant and meaningful, and that they support the overall development and success of the students.

    Finally, don’t forget to reflect on and evaluate the objectives regularly to see if they’re being met and to make any necessary adjustments. This can help to ensure that your teaching is effective and that your students are making meaningful progress.

    Thanks again for the helpful tips, I look forward to seeing more great content from your blog!

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