### “Learning intentions describe what it is we want students to learn in terms of the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and values within any particular unit or lesson.”

### John Hattie

My colleagues and I have spent countless hours writing learning targets in student friendly language. Revisiting the topic of goals has given me time to rethink my current practice. I’m sure there is more to it than just writing the learning target on the board. So how can learning targets be used to have the biggest impact on student learning?

I often reference the learning target that is written on the board at the start of class and then refer to it as students progress through the lesson. During closure, we revisit the learning target and check for understanding. Over the past year, two of my colleagues and I have come to believe that some learning targets should come with the following warning:Sometimes it makes sense to delay revealing the learning target so that students are free to explore a new problem without any constraints. After sharing ideas that are generated, the learning target can be introduced to focus student on the desired next steps. In geometry, students come to class knowing how to use the Pythagorean Theorem. After solving a problem or two using this tool, they encounter a problem in which it won’t work. They need a new strategy… enter trigonometric ratios! At this point, students are motivated because they can see the need for trigonometry. A similar example comes from Algebra 1. Students spend a great amount of time solving quadratic functions by factoring. Give them a quadratic that can’t be factored easily and they now need to know how to complete the square or use the quadratic formula.

Delaying the learning target emphasizes this gap in understanding and uses students’ desire to learn more as motivation for the lesson. How can I capitalize on these gaps in understanding to motivate more students?

My friend and mentor Kathy reminds me that one of the pitfalls of spending so much time writing, rewriting and thinking about learning targets is that we can lose site of the real mathematical goal:

To keep myself in check, I really like these questions from NCTM’s *Principle’s to Actions:*

I want to add these to my repertoire of questions I use with students during a lesson. I think these questions might help both me and my students keep the balance she is referring to!

Please let me know how you use learning targets in your classroom!