23: Learning Targets




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Learning target versus objectives:
  • Both: aligned to standards, set goals for lesson plans
  • Objectives: for the teachers
  • Learning targets: written for and owned by students,  written in student friendly language, chunked (1 skill per target)
Benegits of Using Learning Targets to Communicate Goals
  • Can be used to make students main agents in self assessing and improving learning
  • Builds investment in learning because students can reference what they know and need-to-know against understandable goals
  • Helps students define what they are learning and why they are learning it
  • Builds student motivation by making goals feel accessible
  • Helps students fit goals into a larger framework
  • Discussing learning targets builds academic vocabulary
  • Build sense of ownership and accountability over learning
  • Can be tied to all school structures: daily work, grades, events, etc.
  • Reframes lesson in terms of what students will learn, not what teachers will teach
  • Character learning targets can teach student useful skills such as: risk taking, perseverance, responsibility, etc.
Character Learning Targets
  • specific expectation that build up positive learning culture and build soft skills needed to learn and to create products
  • based on school-wide norms for behavior
Design of Learning Targets & Related Materials:
  • Break down objectives into manageable, student friendly targets
  • Describe learning goal, not task goal
  • Prioritize targets
  • Use long term and supporting targets: 3 to 5 supporting targets per long term targets
  • Use rigor of targets to design appropriate learning tasks
  • KISS – limit to one verb and one topic
Implementation of Learning Targets:
  • Used to track student learning throughout the lesson
  • Match assessment type to target type
  • Give students time to discuss learning in terms of targets
  • Can allow students to revise targets to make them more understandable
  • Break down target with students
  • Use targets to conduct timely assessments and reflections on progress
  • Student read aloud target and restate in their own words to a partner
  • Can use targets to frame next steps
  • Can wait to introduce new targets after students have explored new material
  • Leave time at end of lesson to allow students to use target to debrief lesson
  • Use informal checks for understanding
School-wide Implementation
  • Create character targets per grade level
  • design professional development around learning targets
See benefits listed above.
Learning targets can be used to communicate goals, build student confidence, and build student ownership of their own learning.  Learning targets can be used to develop routines that teach students to self-assess and reflect on their progress towards accessible learning goals.  Using supporting and long term learning targets can demonstrate to students how learning targets fit within a broader framework of ideas.  Scaffolding and assessing character learning targets can improve classroom cultures and develop students’ 21st century skills.


Preparation Steps
  • Develop Year at a Glance
  • Prioritize standards – high to low
  • Write learning targets that are standards-based, specific, student-friendly, assessable, and reasonable
  • Collaborate with staff to develop school-wide behavior expectations
  • Write character learning targets that go with school-wide expectations
Early Implementation Steps
  • Develop routine of discussing learning targets near the start of class with students
  • Develop routines that have students reflect on their Knows & Need-to-Knows that relate to specific learning targets
  • Use routines that involve checks for understanding and reflection debriefs
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Incorporate long term and supporting learning targets
  • Find powerful moments to reveal learning targets and reserve learning target discussions for these times
  • Engage students in creating or revising learning targets
  • Analyze rigor of learning targets into knowledge, skill and reasoning targets and use these to select correct activities and assessments
  • Scaffold and assess academic AND character learning targets

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