Learning Target and Curriculum Alignment Initiative
The process of learning shouldn’t be a mystery. Learning targets provide students with tangible goals that they can understand and work toward. Rather than the teacher taking on all of the responsibility for meeting a lesson’s objective, learning targets, written in student-friendly language and frequently reflected on, transfer ownership for meeting objectives from the teacher to the student. Learning targets are written for and owned by students. The student is the main assessor of their work enabling them to improve his or her learning.
Learning targets are concrete goals written in student-friendly language that clearly describe what students will learn and be able to do by the end of a class, unit, project, or even a course. They begin with an “I can” statement and are posted in the classroom. The term target is used intentionally, as it conveys to students that they are aiming for something specific. The EL Education Core Practices use the following criteria to determine if a learning target is strong.
Learning targets are…
- Derived from national or state standards embedded in school or district documents such as curriculum maps and adopted program materials.
- Written in student-friendly language and begin with the stem “I can...”
- Measurable and use concrete, assessable verbs (e.g., identify, compare, analyze). The verb suggests the way in which the target will be assessed.
- Specific, often referring to the particular context of a lesson, project, or case study.
- Focused on the intended learning, not the intended doing. That is, they are phrased as statements about the skills or knowledge students will develop as opposed to what students will complete (e.g., “I can describe the ideal habitat for a polar bear” vs. “I can write a paragraph about the habitat of a polar bear”).
- Matched to the cognitive process demanded of students (e.g., knowledge, reasoning, skill)