Engagement Through Learning Target Tracker

Everyday when students walk into my classroom, as they find their seats and I walk around building relationships by commenting on unique statement tees, Skittles for breakfast, and the occasional sick child my students know to open up what I call a “Learning Target Tracker” on their Chromebooks.

girl-writing-at-deskIn the past, I’ve always listed the daily learning target in student friendly language on the board and in my daily lesson slides. This summer though, I realized that the target was mainly for me. I used it to design my lesson. I would think about the Common Core ELA Standard I needed my students to master and then create my learning experiences that would help my students get to that point. It structured my day, my week and my units. I could tell you on any given day and week what standard and learning targets my students were working on. If you asked my students… they could tell you the activity they were working on.

On a day when students were writing grant proposals and the learning target was “I can peer edit a grant proposal” one of my students wrote “I am excited to get feedback.” On another day: “I can analyze how a subject is represented in two different mediums” and a student responded with “I think that I will do very well as I have written several compare and contrast papers.” Seeing the range of responses helps me differentiate on the spot and reinforces the data I already know about my students. It also engages students in the material in a way that me simply saying here’s what we’re doing today could have never done.

During parent night last week, I showed the Learning Target Tracker to the parents and explained that we do it everyday. I asked a couple of students in the room to share reactions. A student said “I like it because in the past I would just go into a room and just do the work I was assigned. Now I know what I’m doing and it helps me see the purpose.” I couldn’t have paid her to give a better answer.

Now, if you ask my students… they can tell you what they are LEARNING, WHY and HOW well they can do it. After the lesson, I ask students to do a post-reflection. It’s a quick one sentence reflection on how well they can now do the learning target. One student recently wrote “I achieved my expectations of myself by citing evidence properly.” From eating Skittles for breakfast to a reflection that clearly displays a student understood the learning target, I’ll take both any day!


About the Author

Kari Patrick teaches high school English at STEAM Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. She also serves as Senior Advisor of Teacher Outreach for the Collaborative for Student Success.