Sunday , 18 February 2018
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Creating Quality Clear Learning Targets

falcon fa model

To what extent do students understand what they are supposed to learn in your class? How do you know?  These questions provide food for thought as to how we share our knowledge with our students. Often times, we make assumptions that students know what we want them to learn. Clear Learning Targets provide one method that we can use to ensure students know our expectation.

According to Robert Marzano, “Students who can identify what they are learning significantly outscore those who cannot.”  It makes sense that if students can articulate what they are learning about that they understand the “target” or goal teachers set for them.

As you recall from the NC FALCON module, Clear Learning Targets are the first of three components of the formative assessment process.  Clear Learning Targets are derived by reviewing the standards to be taught, prioritizing the information to scaffold learning, and writing targets to help students understand where they are going.

Clear Learning Targets should be:

  • a measurable achievement expectation of what students should know, understand and be able to do
  • taught in 1-2 lessons
  • written in student-friendly language

ltCriteria for Success

Not only should a learning target provide what students should know and be able to do, but it should also inherently address or suggest the criteria for success.

Note that in the two non-examples at right, no clear criteria for success is indicated.

Target #2 is far too broad to be explored in 1-2 class periods. Furthermore, the target is not specific to the concepts or the culture to be studied.

In Target #5, no measurable criteria have been established for students to demonstrate their understanding.


Click here for more NCCS resources on Clear Learning Targets and Essential Questions.

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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