Students Discuss the Power of Learning Targets

Seventh- and eighth-grade students in Jeanne Boland's class at the Odyssey School in Denver, CO, discuss the power of “unpacking” learning targets so that they can articulate a clear vision of the intended learning and criteria for success.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


- Alright, so we’re gonna get started. Dejoir, will you read our learning target for us today?

- I can group ideas together within my body paragraphs to best support my thesis.

- Alright, so at this point we’ve done a lot of work--

- When you go into the classroom, usually the first thing that we see for the day is our learning targets.

- The learning targets aren’t really just there. The teachers usually makes sure that everyone understands what’s going on before they dive into the learning.

- What I’d like to just know, what are some things that you’re noticing right now. A lot of times the teacher will take time in the beginning of class to break down the learning target so we know what we’re trying to go for and it gives kind of a purpose.

- And I’d love you to have a conversation with the folks in your group about what you remember. And you can actually pull those pieces out. What were some of the things that were included in a body paragraph?

- It sort of consists of like, RDF, or like a point or a statement.

- [Student] It’s more like about the book,

- There’s a lot of peer sharing and talking with the people at your table. And so you can kind of bounce ideas off the people that you’re sitting with to see if maybe they have a better understanding of it than you do.

- So, then once you set them up in the intro paragraph, your body paragraph is where you’re like gettin’ everything you need to understand.

- I know personally what the teacher wants me to learn after she’s explained the learning target at the beginning of class, but also I ask any questions and clarifying questions as to what I need to know. When you first get a learning target, a lot of people will kinda be unsure about what that really means and that’s where the self-assessment comes in, like the Fist to Five, the thumb, so and actually I think it’s really important for the teacher to see that too, to kind of assess for themself, OK so where do I really need to address with this group of students? Do they really get it?

- So, thumbs up, thumbs down if you guys feel like that part is--

- Are they not really getting it at all? Then the teacher can feel confident they got this target, they really know what to do, they really know where they’re going with it. And then, you know, when there’s some students that are kinda this way, they can kind of assess, OK this student’s gonna need some more help. And I think that really goes back to the whole topic of what Odyssey’s really about is making sure that all students succeed and that all students are doing well. And then if no student is falling short, well the rest of them are moving ahead.

- So, remember in the beginning of class when I said when your work on organization, there’s a bonus?

- I know when I understand a learning target when I feel like the confidence, I can say that I can do whatever the learning target says. ‘Cause a learning target isn’t necessarily just like, a purpose of what you’re learning about. It’s also a statement, so I think that once you do understand, that I think it’s the confidence that you can present it in through a project or whatever the teacher’s asking you to do.

- I can see myself doing a project or doing something that goes along with the learning target.

- You can see yourself producing something or having a project that is gonna capture that target.

- Not just some students know what we’re being asked to learn about, all students understand the concept. And I think that’s a concept that is very great because if students don’t really understand the concept of what they’re trying to learn, then there’s no way they can really succeed if they don’t know what their purpose is.

- You always know what you’re doing and you’re very rarely confused about things.

- And then here’s the evidence of how the--

- And I think that’s like a lot of kudos to the teachers because they do take the time to explain everything at the beginning of class. And they also take the time to explain anything that you have questions about, individually or the whole class. So the whole class can get what you’re trying to get.

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