DJHS Staff Newsletter

March 17, 2015

Learning Targets - Why the Practice Matters

The following is an excerpt from Ron Berger's books Leaders of Their Own Learning pages 22 & 23-24. Many of you have expressed wanting to know more about Learning Targets, and I thought you might like to know the "why" behind this practice before you decide if you really want to use them in your classroom for the rest of the year. I hope this helps. Happy Reading! :)

"Learning targets are goals for lessons, projects, units, and courses. They are derived from standards and used to assess growth and achievement. They are written in concrete, student-friendly language - [most often] beginning with the stem "I can" - shared with students, posted in the classroom, and tracked carefully by students and teachers during the process of learning. Students spend a good deal of time discussing and analyzing them and may be involved in modifying or creating them.

"Why This Practice Matters

"Learning targets help student define what they are learning and why they are learning it, enabling them to monitor their progress toward the learning goal and giving them the language for and practice with metacognition. But why do these things matter? How does student ownership of learning make them better learners? How does self-monitoring increase student achievement? What's so special about metacognition? The answer lies in the power to motivate students to learn. Learning targets help stimulate that motivation.

"Learning Targets Represent Clear, Manageable Goals

"Among the dynamics for student motivation is the desire to take on challenges that call on a student's present capacity. In other words, students feel motivated to accomplish a task when they know it is within their reach.

"Learning Targets Inherently Provide Short-Term Success

"Motivation increases when students feel successful at previous attempts. Learning targets, by definition, break down abstract content into smaller learning tasks.

"Learning Targets Let Student Know Where They Are

"One of the hallmarks of student motivation is a sense of purpose. Motivated students know how the task at hand fits into the larger scheme of things. Reaching, or not quite reaching, a learning target represents critical information for students about what they know and can do, and what they still need to learn.

"Common Core Connections

  • The practice of writing learning targets deepens teachers' understanding of the standards and helps them prioritize the content and skills needed to meet them.
  • The Common Core standards represent a big shift in how standards are manifest in K-12 classrooms. They are not simply about coverage of content; instead, they prioritize transferable skills that will enable students to be independent learners across all disciplines. Learning targets increase students' independence by bringing standards to life, shifting ownership of meeting them from just the teacher to both the teacher and the student."

Students in Ms. Sanders' Class creating Ancient World History Comic Strips