Why You Should Be Using Learning Targets

learning ladderFor students to learn they need to know what is expected of them and they need to know what success looks like. Therefore, teachers must create and effectively communicate clearly defined learning targets. These targets need to be posted in the same place in the classroom every day. With the learning targets posted, students see the expectations as soon as they enter class and refer to them during the day. Simply posting them is only a first step. Teachers must use these targets to communicate what they expect of students and what students should expect of themselves. Finally, teachers must help students see how hitting targets on The Learning Ladder™ move students closer to a learning goal that represents a complex skill.

Learning targets guide teachers on what they are to teach and students on what they are to learn. Most important, teachers use learning targets to determine what behavior they should be looking for as students demonstrate their level of knowledge and skill. Therefore, teachers need to write learning targets in clear and measurable ways. We find using the verbs of taxonomies of learning helpful to teachers. The verb indicates the skill level of the performance the student will demonstrate and describes the skill that will be directly observed. Sometimes the capability verbs ‘know, learn, and understand’ look similar. Conversely, when a student ‘states, identifies, and sorts’ things, we clearly appreciate how this looks in action. The verb helps us visually see the type of performance we are looking for so it is important to select the verb that aligns to the expected skill.


Asti Kelley, TeacherReady® 

Excerpt from: Who’s Engaged? | Feature image: Noodle 

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