What do you mean… you learned nothing today?
I don’t remember.
What was your favorite part of the school day?
lunch and recess… oh, we watched a movie!These are the answers we get from our children as we talk about their school day. I remember having these same conversations with my grandfather as a school-age child. He would always say: “Why do you go to school if you are learning nothing, maybe you should come to work with me!” I would imagine that similar conversations about the school day are happening in many households. My wife and I know that our children are learning at school. We can tell that they are learning more than nothing and they do remember what they are learning. They can easily recall their day and give specific learning that took place when we ask more detailed questions. We can also tell by observing reading and writing skills and the progression of math activities that they are practicing through homework assignments. It is exciting to watch them learn and grow!
At our school, we make a concerted effort to post learning targets, making them the focal point of each lesson. The common language, “Target Learning” goals, within each grade level and for all subject areas is sustaining the development of skills. Setting instructional outcomes or target learning expectations is an extremely important step within the learning process. Student who understand the target learning, rather than merely meeting an assignment requirement, will more likely retain the information and have the ability to transfer that knowledge to future learning. Clearly stated learning targets that represents rigorous and important outcomes within each discipline is important to cementing skills. Check out some examples:
Posting learning targets provides a clear and narrow focus to the learning expectations. Intentional activities and formative assessments during the learning process, while utilizing quality questions/prompts, discussion techniques, and engagement strategies that culminates back to the learning target, is key to solidifying student outcomes.
Many of our teacher are taking learning targets to the next level by involving parents. Some teachers will pose questions for parents to ask their children within student planners or through weekly newsletters. Ask your child what their target learning was today:
- What tricky spelling pattern is found in our long “I” words? (studying “ight”)
- What is the “heart” of your story?
- How many different ways can you write the number 20.
- Describe the main character from today’s story. Where does the story take place? What do you think is going to happen in the next chapter?
- What was your hypothesis today during your science experiment?
- Can you teach me three different ways to multiply?
- How do you utilize dialogue in writing?
Asking targeted questions related to instructional outcomes will focus on learning more than the activity, which will support retention of material, increasing the likelihood that students will transfer that knowledge to future learning.Some teachers are communicating target learning to parents through twitter posts:
Parents who follow classrooms on twitter can view learning takeaways to gain knowledge of the school day, which will support intentional conversations about learning with their children. No more will parents ask: What did you learn today? They will now ask: Can you add larger numbers by regrouping? How did you use google docs to collaborate on a literary essay? Target questions will get to the core of Target Learning for the day.
I love when parents and teachers work together to combat an old-age question: What did you learn today?
Enjoy teaching and learning in 2015!