The Why refers to the outcome, goal or the learning intentions - being clear from the start of a lesson what is expected of the class. This is often presented in the form of three brief statements under the headings Know, Do, and Be.

  • Know: what the students should know by the end of the lesson. These are the learning intentions for the lesson. For example, they should know:
    • the rules of volleyball
    • the main reasons for the outbreak of the First World War
    • etc.
  • Do: what is expected of the students - the success criteria for the lesson. This is not "do the worksheet" but rather what the student needs to do to demonstrate that they have met the learning intentions. These can be written as I can statements such as:
    • use the trig formula to solve the measurements taken outside
    • use your understanding of the audience to pitch the essay appropriately
    • etc.
  • Be: what are the behavioural values you wish the students to focus on this lesson? These are based on the college's values of Respect, Endeavour, Achievement and Pride. For example, students should be:
    • open to new ideas
    • careful and accurate
    • respectful of other students' ideas.

Road Map

Learning Intentions can be thought of as a road map of your lesson showing students the destination we are heading for.

Whilst the learning intentions can be written on a white board using the magnetic headings, they can also be the first slide in a PowerPoint, or discussed verbally with a class. The key to learning intentions is that each student should have a clear understanding of what they are learning. The ultimate strategy for learning intentions involves students recording them in their notes and then reflecting on them at the close of the lesson.

Usually the learning intentions are covered near the beginning of the lesson – unless the objective is to be discovered through student involvement in an Inquiry–oriented lesson. In this case, you might want the students to identify the objective and purpose for the lesson as part of the summary or closure to the lesson.

John Hattie explains why learning intentions are an important part of a lesson.