Objectives are the driving force of a lesson. They are sentences that clearly state what students will learn in a lesson. Writing precise instructional objectives drives teacher planning and student learning. A strong objective format keeps objectives clear and manageable. One popular format for writing effective classroom objectives is the ABCD method. This method includes four key elements -- Audience, Behavior, Condition and Degree -- written in that order.

Audience

This piece of the objective specifies for whom the objective is written. In other words, the audience is whoever will be performing the behavior. Most objectives begin with "The student will" or "The learner will." There is no need to specify age or grade level. Keep it simple. However, if this objective is part of an intervention and will be delivered to only one child, the audience may include the child's name. For example, an individualized objective may include "Jessica will."

Behavior

This describes what the students will be doing during the lesson. It's important to use specific and rigorous verbs. Empty verbs such as "learn," "understand" or "appreciate" do not effectively drive instruction. Use strong measurable verbs such as "describe," "analyze," "explain," "summarize," "classify" or "apply." For example, "The student will create" or "The learner will classify." Whenever possible, involve high-level thinking skills that require students to analyze, evaluate and synthesize material. If finding the correct verb is difficult, reference a verb list. Bloom's Taxonomy is an especially helpful list of powerful verbs organized by level of mastery.

Condition

The condition of an objective specifies the circumstances of the behavior. It further explains how the student will perform the action. Include information about tools or materials students will utilize to complete the behavior. Adding conditions to the above examples might result in objectives such as "The student will create sentences using a variety of subjects and predicates" or "The learner will classify animals by species." The conditions should directly follow the verb and be clear and easily understandable.

Degree

The degree sets forth the standard for student success during the lesson. In some circumstances, it may be acceptable or appropriate to omit this portion of the objective. However, the degree should be included whenever possible to provide better guidance for student assessment. Depending on the type of lesson, this figure can designate a percentage of accuracy, a time limit or a number of correct responses expected. When using percentages or number of correct responses, 80 percent or eight out of 10 are commonly used expectations for accuracy. For example, "The learner will classify animals by species with 80 percent accuracy." Time limits are often used for math facts or sight-word assessment. For example, "The student will compute 20 addition facts within one minute." For behaviors that can and should be performed without error, the degree can indicate this as well. For example, "The student will create sentences using a variety of subjects and predicates without error." Using degrees within objectives helps teachers better gauge student understanding of the lesson content.