Connie M. Moss, Susan M. Brookhart LEARNING TARGETS—Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today’s Lesson
“The most effective teaching and the most meaningful student learning happens when teachers design the right learning target for today’s lesson and use it along with their students to aim for and assess understanding.” It is the relationship between:
Essential Content: Teachers collaboratively designing specific learning targets giving students a clear understanding what they should know and be able to do to reach their grade level goals.
Meaningful Learning: Student’s ownership and motivation to learn are heightened when they aim for standards based learning targets. Students monitor their growth and effort and gain confidences in becoming proficient learners.
Effective Instruction: Teachers, Coaches, and Principals improve their leadership skills when they have a greater understanding of effective research based practices, use performance data to make instructional decisions, and provide targeted feedback as a collaborative Professional Learning Community Team.
Moss and Brookhart recommend nine action points that advance this theory of action and provide context for ideas.
1. Learning targets are the first principle of meaningful learning and effective teaching.
2. Today’s lesson should serve a purpose in a longer learning trajectory toward some larger learning goal.
3. It’s not a learning target unless both the teacher and the students aim for it during today’s lesson.
4. Every lesson needs a performance of understanding to make the learning target for today’s lesson crystal clear.
5. Expert teachers partner with their students during a formative learning cycle to make teaching and learning visible and to maximize opportunities to feed students forward.
6. Setting and committing to specific, appropriate, and challenging goals lead to increased student achievement and motivation to learn.
7. Intentionally developing assessment-capable students is a crucial step toward closing the achievement gap.
8. What students are actually doing during today’s lesson is both the source of and the yardstick for school improvement efforts.
9. Improving the teaching-learning process requires everyone in the school – teachers, students, and administrators – to have specific learning targets and look-fors.