Four years ago, I wasn’t satisfied with my literature courses. I wanted lessons to connect learning standards with content, but wasn’t always sure they did. I was skeptical about Learning Targets at first, but knowing I needed reinforcements, I took the plunge. Over time I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Learning Targets aren’t just another administrative check-box tool. They have strengthened my teaching, and I now engage texts more actively myself.
It is easy to get lost in a sea of education acronyms (CCSS, TPEP, PLC to name a few) for both teachers and their students. Kids cannot understand nor can they readily integrate CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1 into their learning (Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text). But they readily respond to an effective “I can” Learning Target in kid-friendly language.
Before LT’s some of my lessons were not connecting the standard to the content. I felt like a rookie twenty-year teacher. The LT above helped me clarify purpose for one of my lessons, Of Mice and Men. I gave my students the following exercise to complete for a M/M character chart:
By no means are LT’s a silver bullet. LT’s are only as effective as my engagement strategies at the beginning, middle, and end of each lesson. In other words: genuine LT’s are embedded into each day’s lesson. This engagement is the true merger of CCSS, TPEP, and assessment.
To help you further explore this connection between LT’s and effective lessons, consider:
- Downloading this chart: M/M Character Chart
- Consulting Webb’s Depth of Knowledge—a useful tool when writing LT’s.
- Investigating how LT’s might fit your curriculum. Regardless of your school’s TPEP model, LT’s will fit: CEL’s 5D+, Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, Marzano.
Not knowing how to tie lessons to tangible learning targets can drive both teachers and students insane and it just becomes a task to complete rather than a task that is closely tied to learning. It takes a leap of faith to explore that connection and use LT’s. One worth taking.