Learning Targets Chapter 2 (part 2 in a series to summarize the book Learning Targets by Connie Moss and Susan Brookhart)
“The whole concept of standards-based instruction assumes that individual lessons, over time, will amount to achievement of a larger standard.”
(Moss & Brookhart pg. 29)
From my perspective, there are few things more beautiful that the trajectory of a homerun ball as it leaves the bat and towers toward the outfield bleachers (Yes, I am imagining my many wonderful summer days sitting at Wrigley Field with my Dad). The sound of the crack of the bat, followed by the immediate gasp from the crowd, and then the celebration that begins long before the trajectory of the ball has stopped is upward spiral and falls to earth is something that every baseball fan has experienced and leaves you with a certain adrenaline rush that can’t be explained. It becomes the “it” moment of the day.
The best teachers, and even some average ones every now and then, experience that “it” moment while teaching and learning. It happens at that moment when every thing comes together perfectly and their plans turn into reality as their student meet and exceed their expectations. In Chapter 2 of Learning Targets, Moss and Brookhart, explore the concept of potential learning trajectory. The authors are clearly challenging educators to go deeper and think about how they plan lessons. On page 29, they state that planning for effective daily instruction consists of three things:
· What are the essential knowledge (facts, concepts, and generalizations, or principals) and skills (or procedures) for the lesson?
· What is the essential reasoning content for the lesson?
· What is the potential learning trajectory in which the lesson is situated?
If you consider and can articulate these things you are ready to design a dynamic learning experience for your students. The authors outline four steps in designing a learning target. They also highlight several misconceptions and implementation mistakes teachers often make by not going deep enough with their planning.
STEP 1: Define the Essential Content for the Lesson
STEP 2: Define the Reasoning Processes Essential for the Lesson
STEP 3: Design a Strong Performance of Understanding
STEP 4: State the Learning Target
All our students are on a learning trajectory…some days we hit home runs with them and the trajectory goes up and sometimes we strike out and the learning trajectory goes nowhere. By intentionally planning for the learning with not only the content in mind, but also our student learning trajectory, we can formatively gauge the lesson throughout and monitor our own effectiveness.
Questions for thought:
· How do you and your PLC identify your instructional objectives, the essential content, and the thinking skills they require to address various stages of students learning trajectory?
· Learning Targets are not the same as Learning Objectives, after reading the Chapter 2, what is the difference?
· If you already use “I will” and “We Will” statements, how do you incorporate them throughout your lessons?