With the demands on teaching and learning in an age of 21st century learning, what do all teachers want? How about instructional strategies that not only make teaching more effective, but learning? Not a silver bullet, but something close? Good news: that very thing exists.
The innovation and learning coaches have immersed ourselves in instructional strategies this year, based on the work of John Hattie, Dylan Wiliam,Steven Zemelman, and Anne R. Reeves. I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve seen anything impact teaching and learning as much as some of the instructional strategies from these gurus have. The ground breaking part is that the use of learning targets and success criteria make designing lessons much more productive, and more important, have led to deeper student learning. Let’s first take a look at learning targets and success criteria. Subsequent post will address other instructional strategies.
Let’s walk through an example. First, take a look at this video about unpacking learning targets with students.
My favorite teacher line from this video is “Tell me what you know about this target, and what you’re wondering about.” How powerful is that? How many times do we just post or say the learning target and think “that’s it?” Unfortunately, just posting or reciting the target doesn’t mean the students really understand and internalize it. They are the ones who REALLY need to internalize it as they are the ones doing the learning. They are the ones that need to have the learning targets at the forefront of their learning. Let us not assume our kids just “get” the learning target? Have you asked your kids whether they understand what’s being asked of them? The assumption that they do can be a detriment to their learning.
After breaking down the learning target, we want to address the success criteria. Here’s a way to explain the importance of success criteria to your kids. Let’s say that a group of kiddos have never seen the game of basketball. I teach them how to do lay-ups, how to shoot free throws, how to play defense, and how to do a full-court press. Could I then just throw them on a court and have them successfully play the game of basketball? It would be quite interesting as you would likely have lay-ups occurring at the same time as free-throws, defense and a full-court press. Most kids have seen the game of basketball played before, so they do, in fact, have an idea of the success criteria, and have a better understanding of what is expected of them in the end. Our kids in our classes, need to know the same.
Take a look at this video, where they discuss success criteria.
The big lesson from these videos and instructional strategies: don’t just dive into content. First, be sure STUDENTS have a clear idea of where they’re going and what the success looks like. This knowledge helps lead them to owning the learning and creates an atmosphere where they are better able to regulate their own learning.