Sunday, August 24, 2014


Thank you for giving me something to do! If I didn’t write this blog and you didn’t read it, I might have to take up golf or bridge! This is a whole lot more fun, so I am grateful to you for keeping me an intentional learner!!! I thought I’d do a few posts on intentional teaching, but I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for two weeks really putting my brain cells to the test. (It just might be my next book, but it’s yours for FREE!)

Have you ever watched the Food Network show “Chopped”? They give the chefs the ingredients and they have to figure out what to do with them to make something that tastes delicious. Isn’t your job as an educator similar? They give you the ingredients and you have to figure out what to do with them so they “taste” good to children.

INTENTIONAL LEARNING is one of the current buzz words in education. There is actually a website dedicated to intentional learning ( Intentional learning means you act purposefully with a goal in mind. Intentional teachers set up activities and the environment so the students can accomplish those goals. This is nothing new – we’ve always made games, songs, and centers to help children master skills.

In early childhood we have traditionally encouraged more incidental learning where children can explore and discover on their own. Intentional learning just seems to be a little more focused. It’s not an either–or, but a both–and. There’s a place for intentional learning (teacher-directed) as well as incidental learning (child-directed) in the classroom and in life.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned on my web research. (It’s basically what I learned in Curriculum 101 forty-five years ago.)
Set your goals.
Choose content and activities to accomplish those goals.
Motivate and engage with your students.
Evaluate student performance and then set new goals and the cycle starts all over again.

Explicit instruction is a key component of intentional teaching. Explicit instruction is structured, systematic, and direct.
1st Provide students with the reason to learn the new skill.
2nd Introduce skills in small steps using examples and modeling.
3rd Use a variety of teaching strategies.
4th Give students guided practice with feedback.

I was visiting with some teachers recently and we were discussing the fact that in some districts focus goals must be displayed in learning centers. One teacher remarked, “If you ask a child who is playing in blocks what they are doing they will say, ‘I’m playing in blocks.’” They might be sorting blocks, measuring with blocks, building a house for the Three Bears, cooperating with a small group - but to them it’s playing in blocks.

Intentional instruction is important, but the “hidden curriculum” (social, emotional, and physical) is also critical! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

                              Balance, balance, balance!

Over the next few weeks I will attempt to put theory into practice with games and activities to make intentional learning more meaningful and FUN. Let’s see what I can find in my box of ingredients!!  I hope you're hungry!

Here are a few websites if you want to learn more: