One of the greatest challenges when developing learning targets is breaking them down in a way that motivates students to take responsibility for their learning. That shift in ownership from the teacher to the student in meeting the targeted goals is sometimes difficult when as a teacher one feels that he or she is solely responsible for the learning that takes place in the classroom. ~Cindy M
This was also one of my biggest challenges as well. I found it challenging to step away from the "traditional" role of the teacher and become more of a facilitator. However, I did find that making the learning targets more student friendly helped my students take ownership of their learning. Students were more engaged in the lessons from the beginning to the end. ~ Caitlin P.
I think that the biggest challenge that I have encountered with the learning targets so far is translating standards into learning targets, specifically "I can statements." ~ Darrell L.
You are correct! It definitely is a challenge, but when creating learning targets (I can statements) that are in student-friendly terms and understandable, students become more engaged in the lesson and take ownership of their learning. Our teachers take more time to translate (looking longer/deeper) state and Common Core standards which should yield greater understanding of the content for both the teacher and the student.
While the author goes into detail regarding how the writing of learning targets could pose challenges to the teacher, I feel he was most accurate when he stated that students must internalize the value of learning targets and use them to access their own progress. Having students articulate how each activity is helping move them closer to the target and having students take ownership in their own learning can be a challenge to not only the teacher but also to the students themselves.
The important thing to recognize about learning targets is that while the verbiage itself is important, the process of reaching that target is what is critical. Carefully planning a pathway through which you will guide the scaffold, or steps for learning, is the key to ensuring that students will be able to learn rudimentary concepts in a logical progression on the way to mastering a larger, more complex concept. This planning process is highlighted in the book when the author discusses short term and long term learning targets.
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The overall goal is to place students as leaders of their own learning. This process of placing students in the best situation to obtain this goal is pertinent. Developing a learning target that correlates with the Common Core State Standards ensures that students are developing and utilizing the critical thinking skills emphasized by the CCSS. The newly constructed CCSS places an abundant amount of rigorous task as well as rigorous content on teachers and students. It is imperative that the planning process as highlighted in the book "Leaders of Their Own Learning" must be discussed carefully to create effective learning targets. In return, teachers will start to see successful results when assessments are given due to the ownership taken by the students.
One of the biggest challenges that I faced when creating student centered learning targets is creating a “doing target” rather than a learning target. Being a science teacher, most of my curriculum is set up to “do” something, such as a lab or hands-on activity. It is easy for me to create a objective that says “students will calculate percent composition” rather than “ I can use quantitate analysis to determine percent composition of a substance or compound.” Both are centered on a lab activity, but just by having an appropriate learning target uses more “hot” words that are being seen on standardized test, which, in theory, should help the students understand the phrasing and not become overwhelmed. The authors also state, “Students feel motivated to accomplish a task when they know it is within their reach” (23). This statement also addressed another challenge when it comes to creating a learning target. I’ve only been teaching a short period of time, so sometimes it is difficult to determine what the appropriate amount of material I should cover in a class time. I want the content to be rigorous, but at the same time, not be overwhelming. This is why the learning target should be something that the students feel they can accomplish during that class period. One example the author uses deals with geometry. He states, “knowledge learning targets in geometry that require students to memorize definitions may be reached in a single lesson, whereas learning targets requiring students to apply geometric concepts to novel problems – using reasoning – may take several days” (38). He authors’ statement seems to convey a message that if the learning target is rigorous, it may take several days to complete, which kind of contradicts the message that student’s L.T. should be accomplished during that class period. I was confused on this part, but I do remember that the authors said that we could have a large learning target for the unit, but then take that large learning target and have several smaller learning targets that could be broken down from that stem.
One of the biggest concepts that we must come to terms with is that with the advent of Common Core standards in the K-12 curriculum, we are seeing a general shift in the purpose of learning targets. Learning targets are no longer about the coverage of content--they are now used to prioritize transferable skills that will enable students to be independent learners across all disciplines. Learning targets bring these standards to life and shift ownership to both the student and teacher. Brandon G.
My greatest challenge when creating a learning target has been to dissect the very wordy common core standards and translate them in to smaller, easy to understand, short-term goals for my students. Once I did this, my students were more focused, knew what they needed to accomplish each day, and were able to guide their own learning. Another thing I struggled with was not referring back to the learning target throughout the lesson. Before my book study, I would present the learning target or even just read it out to the students at the beginning of the lesson instead of letting them take ownership of it. ~Kelly M.
I believe my greatest challenge in creating learning targets was to take the common core standards and make them into student friendly language. I believe when I began to create the “I can” statements, my students were able to identify with what they were supposed to accomplish that day. Referring back to the learning target during the class also helped the students take ownership of the lesson.
Coach Tyree- My greatest challenge when developing a learning target is probably on my daily learning targets. The problem I have is not being so vague, and I try to cover the entire long term learning target. I just continue to struggle with whether my learning target is too big or too small. I am trying to create learning targets daily that focus on one part of reaching that long term goal. I have also tried to go back and repeat learning target throughout the lesson. This allows me to stay on task, and also helps the students to own the day and the learning target. This has helped me tremendously. I have always displayed my learning target, and I feel I have improved at stating and repeating the learning target by constantly reminding myself that the learning target is essential to student learning. I have also tried to do a better job at matching my assessments to the learning target, but this is a constant struggle for me as a young educator.
My greatest challenge when creating learning targets is breaking the objective down into "I can" statements. The common core standards are very broad and it is a challenge to put them in student friendly terms. I need to make sure my learning targets match my assessments throughout my lessons. As a math teacher, it is easy to make a learning target too complex or broad. I need to improve in that aspect of making my learning targets comfortable for the students to take ownership and most important learn. - Ripley
The biggest challenge I have faced is creating learning targets that are not too broad. The Den Talks sessions have brought this to my attention. Breaking down a learning target into steps (daily targets), helps bring to my attention all of the steps necessary for the students to complete the long term target. I have always broken it down into steps in my personal teaching notes. However, writing actual daily targets in the students voice that are more detailed (I can...) really reinforces with me the time I need to spend on the smaller targets, and not just brush past them. I feel as though it forces me to put myself in my students' shoes, more so than in the past. I would also like to add that the Den Talks have been a "safe place" for me. I don't feel criticized or judged, which means I don't dread attending the meetings. Normally, we have professional development at the beginning of semesters, and CTE has it during the summer. It is easy to forget some things throughout the semester that you felt were very helpful during pd sessions. Thank you for providing this on-going support and giving me the opportunity to hopefully improve as a teacher! ~Leslie G.
Developing lesson plans in this manner is a new strategy for me. I've had to shift my way of thinking quite drastically. I have found my biggest struggle when creating learning targets is overestimating my students background/content knowledge. My objectives, which seem simple, are too encompassing to be completed in one class period or with the activities I have scheduled. Making sure I create learning targets that do not include assumed knowledge is an area in which I will focus more attention.
My biggest challenge when creating learning targets is to break it down into simple steps. I tend to focus on the entire picture when I need to concentrate on one specific item. I struggle with this because some of my students are faster at picking up on skills than others which causes them to work at a different pace. When students are not on the same task at the same time, it creates confusion.
I believe the thing I like most about learning targets is that it helps students define what they are learning and why they are learning it. In my experience once a student is able to determine a real life use or application of something they are much more focused and determined.
You have numerous sources to pull from when writing learning targets to where our students can take ownership of their learning. I commend you on your reflection to this post. Overall, I would like to challenge you to continue to put into practice learning targets that will engage our students in tracking their learning.