View Capital City’s full educator workshop, Introduction to Learning Targets.

High School Student in Lab

THESE RESOURCES FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING LEARNING TARGETS:

  • I can explain the what and why of student-engaged assessment (SEA).
  • I can identify strategies for using learning targets as a component of SEA.
  • I can effectively collaborate with colleagues to develop an implementation plan.

  LEARNING TARGET #1: I can explain the what and why of student-engaged assessment (SEA).

Read Introduction to Leaders of Their Own Learning: Why Student-Engaged Assessment Matters from EL Education to learn how student engaged assessments:

  • motivate students to care
  • change mindsets
  • engage students as leaders of their own learning
  • support teacher reflection
  • build a culture of collaboration, trust, and evidence
  • strengthen home-school connections
  • align with the Common Core

  LEARNING TARGETS #2 AND #3: 
I can identify strategies for using learning targets as a component of SEA.
I can effectively collaborate with colleagues to develop an implementation plan.

Learning target example from middle school

WHAT IS A LEARNING TARGET?

Learning targets are concrete goals written in student-friendly language that clearly describe what students will learn and be able to do by the end of a class, unit, project, or even a course. They begin with an “I can” statement and are posted in the classroom. The term target is used intentionally, as it conveys to students that they are aiming for something specific.

The EL Education Core Practices use the following criteria to determine if a learning target is strong.

CRITERIA OF STRONG TARGETS

  • Derived from national or state standards embedded in school or district documents such as curriculum maps and adopted program materials.
  • Written in student-friendly language and begin with the stem “I can...”
  • Measurable and use concrete, assessable verbs (e.g., identify, compare, analyze). The verb suggests the way in which the target will be assessed.
  • Specific, often referring to the particular context of a lesson, project, or case study.
  • Focused on the intended learning, not the intended doing. That is, they are phrased as statements about the skills or knowledge students will develop as opposed to what students will complete (e.g., “I can describe the ideal habitat for a polar bear” vs. “I can write a paragraph about the habitat of a polar bear”).
  • Matched to the cognitive process demanded of students (e.g., knowledge, reasoning, skill).

Watch this video from EL Education to hear students discuss the power of learning targets. 

These are two ways to use learning targets. Sometimes you use them to guide students when you know they will need a roadmap. Other times you let them grapple and unpack the learning target after the lesson in order to help them metacognitively reflect after the lesson. Learning targets can both be an aim as well as a tool for reflection.

WHAT, WHY AND HOW OF LEARNING TARGETS

Read the What, Why and How of Learning Targets from EL Education to explore strategies for how to:

  • refer to learning targets throughout the lesson.
  • check for whole class understanding. 
  • check for individual understanding. 
  • connect to long term learning targets.
  • integrate character learning targets alongside academic learning targets.
  • ensure the rigour of learning targets.
  • align standards, learning targets and assessments.