This summer, I took an AQ course to about mathematics education to start down the road to becoming a math specialist. One of the areas of focus for this course was on the use of Learning Targets and Success Criteria. Confession: I have always thought that learning targets were a good idea, and always had good intentions, but never really got off the ground with using them on a regular basis in my classroom. I didn’t think that it was a big deal though…I figured that they (aka my brilliant student mathematicians) knew what I wanted. (Mind reading, perhaps?)
It’s not a secret……
Our goal is to enable all students to be “independent, self-monitoring learners”.
How do I go about this? Learning Goals, Success Criteria and Self-Reflection. These are three components that I now see must be a part of my program. They are no longer ‘optional’. It will be time consuming. It will be challenging. It will take time away from other things. But, just as I am convinced of the value of Independent Reading and Independent Writing each and every day in my literacy program, I must be as committed to these things in my math program. How will students know what we are looking for if we don’t show them?
In a discussion board posting for the class I was taking I wrote the following:
I was struck by the statement, “Students can hit any target that stands still for them.” This is true, but as we have talked about in previous modules, perhaps not at the same time and in the same way. And so it comes back to the question that I am always faced with in my mathematics program. If all of my students are meeting the learning targets in different ways and at different times, how I do I keep the cycle going?
I am still struggling with this, and I think I will for a great period of time. This is where things like guided math come into focus for me once again. Each of my students needs to be given the opportunity to be successful. If this means that I must return to learning goals over and over with some of my students, helping them move forward, then I must do it.
One of my goals for the upcoming year is to sit down and truly develop clear, concise learning targets for my lessons. I do this vaguely right now, and frankly, didn’t put a lot of importance on it as I was planning. However, as I revisit my lessons and my unit plans, I will strive to set incremental and scaffolded learning targets that each of my students can ‘hit’, in whatever way makes the most sense to them. Then, as a group, we will co-create success criteria, ensuring that we have arrived at a common understanding together.
As the school year starts, I’m going to sit down with my unit plans and create unit-long learning goals for my students. These will be given to them at the start of the unit, and as the unit progresses, they will reflect on them and whether or not they have met them. Then, they will write their own individual learning goals. This sounds like a lofty goal. I admit, it is. It’s going to be tough slogging at the start. But I’m convinced it will be worth it.
And now, to put words into action.