Friday, June 19, 2015

Learning Targets and Success Criteria

We all know about learning objectives. These live in classrooms as "Students will be able to.." cleverly known as the acronym SWBAT. Today, while sitting in a brief meeting I was reminded how powerful it can be to make thinking and learning visible to students, allowing them to internalize and be in charge of their own learning. I wanted to provide information on a different way to look at the learning objective, where the learning and steps may be more clearly defined. This offset of the objective is called Learning Targets and Success Criteria. 

Research has proven that providing students with clear learning goals help students to learn better (Seidel, Rimmele, & Prenzel, 2005). In fact according to two studies, (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall & Wiliam, 2004 and Moss, Brookhart & Long, 2011), "When students understand exactly what they're supposed to learn and what their work will look like when they learn it, they're better able to monitor and adjust their work, select effective strategies, and connect current work to prior learning."

Meaningful learning target's and success criteria are one piece of the planning process which can help teachers thoughtfully think through a daily lesson. A learning target "describes, in language students can understand, what students will learn in today's lesson." According to the article Learning Targets on Parade, a learning target should...

"1. Describe for students exactly what they're going to learn by the end of the day's lesson.
2. Be in language students can understand.
3. Be stated from the point of view of the student who has yet to master the knowledge of skill that's the focus of the day's lesson.
4. Be embodied in a performance of understanding-what the students will do, make, say or write during the lesson- that translates the description into action."

The success criteria include steps on the road to achieving the learning target and should be understandable in order to be used by teachers and students to formatively assess learning.

An example of a learning target and success criteria,created by my colleague Tracey Martineau, may look something like,

Learning Target:
I can identify and explain the moral of a fable.
Success Criteria:
1. I can explain what a moral is.
2. I can find key details that are related to the moral of the fable.
3. I can identify the moral of a fable.
4. I can explain the moral of the fable in my own words.
As you can see, from this example, the learning target and success criteria provide students with a way to self assess where they are in the continuum of achieving the learning target, and also identify where they are breaking down or encountering a problem as they move towards achieving a learning target.
Whether you post content and language objectives or use learning targets and success criteria, our goal is to make the learning and rationale visible and accessible for students in the classroom.

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