Imagine playing darts with a blindfold… How well do you think that would go? Yeah, our teachers tried this during Professional Development (magnetic darts, of course), and we quickly realized that we’re not very good at hitting the target if we can’t see where we are aiming. Likewise, students need to be able to see the end goal of where they are going in their learning, and deconstructing standards into learning targets does just that. Both teachers and students benefit from having learning targets.
Real Talk. The posted learning target seemed like such a fad as it became something looked for when administrators come in for evaluations, but this shouldn’t be the only reason it’s posted. When I was in the classroom and was first told that I needed to have my daily learning target posted, this was a hoop for me. I did not truly learn the value of learning targets until one year when my gifted darlings told me they didn’t feel like they’d learned what they needed to know for the standardized test, which was the NEXT day, because they never completed worksheets in my class.
This was a reality check that came with a panic attack. I am not a worksheet teacher, but I had never considered the fact that it made it harder for my students to know what they were learning. In a state of panic, I pulled the learning targets (that I’d considered a hoop) and passed them out to the class. Together, we went through each one, made annotations on what we were confident about and not, and then discussed how we’d learned each standard/learning target for them to make the connection. At the end of the day, it turned out to be ok, but it was literally with tears, sweat, and panic that I came to this discovery. Since that day, learning targets would no longer be a hoop; they became the center of my lessons and referred back to often. Students need these learning targets to take more initiative in their own learning, and believe it or not, they appreciate you allowing them to take ownership of it.
Also, learning targets can help you, the teacher, to really know the depth in which you need to teach. I highly recommend you deconstruct your own standards in order to fully understand the depth of knowledge level you need to achieve with your students. Anyone can find a set of learning targets online; however, I think the true value comes from writing them yourself. You can refer to my previous post for a bit more information on writing your own learning targets.
Whether you decide to deconstruct your own standards into learning targets or find some online, they are still something you will want to use with your students. At the beginning of class, introduce the students to their learning targets for the day. As the lesson goes on, refer back to the learning target often to make sure they are making the connection. At the end of class, have students complete a formative assessment over the day’s learning target to allow the students to see their own mastery of that learning target, which in turn means they’ve mastered the standard that aligns to the learning target.
HAPPY TARGETING STANDARDS!