Learning targets are a teacher’s best means of communication for learning objectives.
Learning targets will greatly help students focus on what you want them to learn. They must be well written in student-friendly language and specific with clear and simple steps and given each school day. Think through how they fit into the bigger learning goals, so students can climb up on their educational ladder of success. Learning targets also help teachers make better transitions to the next rung of the ladder of student learning and engagement. So, our transitions are not so choppy.
Targets and or goals must be well written and specific with clear and simple steps and given each school day.
They need to fit into the bigger learning goals, so students can build their skills and develop their cognitive, psychomotor, and affective abilities. As you know, with each standard we are to build upon the previous one and then prepare our students for the next and so forth. Visualize a ladder or stairs. In so doing, students know what to do and this connects them to the goal. But, we must communicate them to the students. When we are communicating the targets and goals, then the students will know what to do and what they need to bring for engagement and success. This will also make class time easier and more efficient and help students achieve greater. How to do this:
We need to communicate the learning targets to our students daily.
When starting the lesson, write them on the board or on a poster. Then, as you introduce, read the target and ask students what it means? Clarify what it means to eliminate any confusion. Engage the lesson. Then, have students discuss the lesson in groups. This is not a waste of class time, as the lesson will progress faster and more efficiently. In my experience there is always improvement with student’s reaction and interaction and more engaged. Bonus, having a topic or something in the lesson that will interest the students is great a motivator to student engagement.
Communicate the targets to the parents.
Communicating the learning objectives to parents will help them understand and become engaged in what their children will be learning. It does not take much, a half paragraph in the class newsletter or whatever means you use to communicate with all your parents. That way, they know what is going on and what is expected. This saves a lot of calls and confusion. This will also help give support at home as well.
Scaffolding the learning tasks to teach.
When introducing a new skill or learning topic, teachers need to carefully scaffold the step the students need to take. Make sure that each student is not left behind, so make sure the prerequisite skills are developed because they are needed to accomplish the complex skill. You can’t just throw students into the lesson, yes, some will do fine, but you will lose the majority. Do not be afraid to do so slowly so all get it, one step at a time. As each lesson and skill is learned you can build on it and go to the next step and more complicated skills. This is what is called the “Unconsciously Unskilled to Consciously Unskilled” to (critical learning point) “Consciously Skilled” to “Unconsciously Skilled”… (Tom Gordon, 1974). If students do not understand, become frustrated or fall behind, the teacher needs to make sure if the learning targets were understandable and doable, this is the teachers’ achievement. Then reteach what is not cemented.
Set the tone for learning, by writing the learning targets on the board each day.
Do not forget to Post it! I am astounded how often this is not happening, as teachers get into an autopilot and fail to do this essential matter. To effectively communicate learning targets for the purpose to build, attain and assess a student’s “Knowledge,”it has to have effective Verbs and Scaffolding. (Bloom is our best friend and makes them easier to write and teach!) So, students know what to do to connect them to the goal. The students will know what to do and what they need to bring for engagement and success. This will also make class time easier and more efficient and help students achieve greater.
Create tasks on how the students should or could engage them.
We need to think through how to get our students to strive. In so doing, when we communicate the learning target, we can show what success looks like. Like examples, then, carefully coach them through it. When we are doing our Formative Assessments, we are to be collecting student information on how well they are performing. Then, we know how to rearrange or modify or skip or add to the lesson. To make this more effective, the Bloom verbs need to be more than “know,” “learn” and “understand, as these are unclear;” it needs to incorporate a key verb that is measurable, such as “defines,” “describes,” “identifies,” “sorts,” “recall.” A goal can effectively use learn and understand as meaning to acquire the knowledge, or to develop the skills.
Do not forget to model what you want the assignments and projects are to look like. Have a good understandable rubric they can follow and or make directions clear. Then, take the time to show students what success in what they are to do will looks like. And, remember why you are a teacher. Coaching will be your best foundation for successful teaching procedures. In so doing, you will be helping students to think, learn, and problem solve which are important components of your classroom. Then, your students become more motivated and engaged to accomplish those targets with success.
Remember, Engagement and Feedback are your key elements to success!
Dr. Richard Krejcir is an Author, Researcher, seasoned Special Education teacher and the Director of a nonprofit that does educational training in third-world countries. He is also a STEAM teacher and a father of a son with autism.