Class Goal Types

Over the years, I’ve come to think of classes as generally falling into three main categories:

  • survey course – skims over major content areas; requires vocabulary study
    • Western History from 1500 to Present; 5th grade biology
  • methods course – mastery of facts, concepts, and procedures; requires rigorous practice
    • Algebra I; Elements of Art and Composition; Expository Writing
  • remediation course – must begin at first principles and work forward; designed to fill gaps
    • Preparation for Pre-Algebra; conceptual physics

If teachers are lucky, they are using a complete, high quality, direct instruction curriculum that meets their goals and “combines a focus on content with an instructional method that fully exploits the potential of writing to build knowledge and critical thinking abilities.”[i]

To paraphrase The Well-Trained Mind, I wrote my book for the rest of us.[ii]

Knowing the content to be taught is critical in an online classroom. Because information has to be pushed out to students in advance, teachers need to know what they are doing in the future. Teachers must have a plan. The best plan begins at the end—what is the goal of the course?

Determine your course goal first.


[i] (Wexler, The Knowledge Gap, 2019)

[ii] (Bauer & Wise, 2016)

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