How are Learning Targets Like Siri

Have you ever looked at your smart phone and yelled at Siri for getting you lost? If you have taken a trip recently, even a short one, you have probably used your phone's navigations system, Google Maps or another app or GPS device to help you find your

Unlike a printed map, our phones can provide up-to-the-minute information about where you are, the weather, traffic information, the distance to your destination, and exactly what to do when you make a wrong turn and so much more. But without a precise description of where you want to go, your phone or GPS device can't do any of that.

Learning targets are the classroom teacher's way to convey to students the destination for the lesson-what to learn, how deeply to learn it, and exactly how to demonstrate their new learning. The intention for the lesson is one of the most important things students should know to prevent mystery learning.

Regardless of the lesson, students should understand what they are supposed to learn during a lesson and set their sights on learning it. Regardless of how important the content or how engaging the activity, unless all students see, recognize, and understand the learning target from the very beginning of the lesson, students will spend more time on trying to figure out what their teachers expect them to learn than on meeting the instructional objectives.

What are the parts of a good learning target?

  • Post it - it should be visible.
  • State it and unwrap it - Don't rely on everyone reading it on your board. State it, and look at the nouns and verbs to understand exactly what the objective for the lesson is.
  • Why do we need to learn this? - Why is this lesson relevant to me?
  • Bring it back, bring it back, bring it back - we know that it takes nine-times hearing a message before we can gauge where we heard the message. Restate the learning target as part of the lesson.
  • Assess it: Just because you taught it doesn't mean that they learned it. Learning targets written in a student friendly way, often are posted beginning with the words "I CAN..."

Learning targets help students grasp the lesson's purpose - why it is crucial to learn this chunk of information, on this day, and in this way. Student friendly language helps our students understand what they need to learn. Unlike instructional objectives, which are about instruction, derived from content standards, written in teacher language, and used to guide teaching during a lesson or across a series of lessons, learning targets frame a lesson from the student point of view.

(Adapted from Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District's Professional Development and Instructional Technology article on learning targets

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