Learning Targets

Bringing it all together

The Why

The surest path to equity is through high standards and supports for all of our students. This is the primary reason we are focusing on learning targets this year. Let me break it down a bit more. In our September staff meeting, we did a reading from Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Yvette Jackson. She spoke of being a "warm demander." We are a staff of caring, loving educators. Not one of us got into education to reach a small group of students. When asked in an interview "Do you believe all children can learn?", I imaging you all said yes. I know I did. Too many of us have occasionally fallen into the trap of caring for children instead of teaching them. Of lowering the standard. Of turning reasons into excuses. Of unknowingly perpetuating the soft bigotry of low expectations. As Rita Pierson said, "Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be." All students deserve to know we believe they can accomplish the learning we have put in front of them. And that the learning is at standard. And they can get there with support. We believe they can, even if it takes them longer, or requires more supports, more determination, more vulnerability to admit help is needed. If we are not starting with the target, we are removing that opportunity from them. I firmly believe that holding high standards for all of our students is how we meet our goals of shrinking the achievement gap and improving our school culture. That is the why. Now let's talk about the what and the how.
What do the kids say?

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What does the research say?

Much of what we know about the power of learning targets or intentions comes from John Hattie's work. He published several books based on the results of more than 15 years of research involving millions of students and represented the biggest ever collection of evidenced-based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. The results of this study indicate that clear learning intentions, as he calls them, with success criteria have an effect size of .68. That is significant. You can read more in this excerpt of his book from Visible Learning for Teachers.

Learning Target 1: I can describe the attributes of a clear learning target.


  • I can identify and discuss the importance of symbols of order (rules) in the novel in an expository essay.
  • I can explain the structure and function of a carbohydrate.
  • I can use standard greetings, farewells, and expressions of curtesy in conversations and in writing assignments.
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You Decide

Classify each of the following as effective, somewhat effective or ineffective:

  • I can identify the protagonist, theme and voice of a piece of literature. (effective?)
  • I can flip a coin 100 times to determine the probability of heads. (effective?)
  • I can watch a video about the causes of the civil war. (effective?)
  • I can use authentic ancient Egyptian techniques to mummify a chicken. (effective?)
  • I can describe how materials change when they are heated or cooled. (effective?)

Self-Check: Record your answers on the attached learning target guide. Can you describe the attributes of an effective learning target?

Learning Target 2: I can identify what the highly effective and effective use of learning targets looks like in practice as described on the teacher evaluation rubric

What are we looking for?

Having clear learning targets is part of effective teaching and is outlined in the Marshall Rubric. Because we are working on this throughout the year, the administrators will be providing you with formative feedback. Instead of marking these areas on the rubric within our evaluation system, we will send an e-mail with what we noticed, and perhaps a question or two. You do not necessarily need to respond to these questions (unless we ask you very specifically to respond), they are designed for self-reflection. Because this has been identified as a problem of practice for the school, when I do my learning walks with Kelly Raymond, we will be doing walking through classrooms and I will provide you with some formative feedback. Kelly will provide me with feedback on my feedback to you and the impact of the PD that we are doing on this work.

Final Reflection

Please answer the following reflection question on the learning target guide:

Of the three areas that learning targets are on the teacher evaluation rubric, I am strongest in (1B standards, 1F lessons, 3C Goals). The evidence of this is:

Of the three areas that learning targets are on the teacher evaluation rubric, I have the biggest opportunities for growth in (1B standards, 1F lessons, 3C Goals). My plan to grow in this area is:

Please bring your completed learning target guide to the staff meeting on November 7, 2018.

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