Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to Identify Clear Learning Targets - A Thanksgiving Formative Assessment

What does identifying clear learning targets have to do with Thanksgiving?  This Thursday I will prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner, complete with Turkey and all the traditional sides to my family of 8.  This is the standard that I will be assessed on.  The first step in identifying clear learning targets is to figure out what the ultimate target type is.  There are four categories of learning targets.  Knowledge, Reasoning, Performance Skills and Product. To identify the ultimate target, you first need to look at what the learner is expected learn.  Look at the verbs in the standard...prepare and serve.  The verbs can give you a clue to what the ulitmate target type is. Verbs also help you to identify what the learner will be assessed on.  This is a Product target, since the learner, in this case me, is expected to know how to produce a dinner. My family will assess my mastery of this target when they eat my meal.

Once you have identified the ultimate target type, you will need to identify the foundational or underpinning targets that the learner will need to understand to demonstrate mastery of the standard.  These learning targets will be the scaffolding you will put in place to support your students. You can also pick out content vocabulary that may need to be reinforced as you think about the foundational targets.
  • Knowledge - information that is memorized, needed to do reasoning, create a product or perform a skill
  • Reasoning - cognitive skills, analysis
  • Performance Skill - this requires some kind of physical act
  • Product - the standard requires the learner to make something or create something.

Think about what the learner would need to know in order to begin to learn about making and preparing a Thanksgiving dinner:
Knowledge - how to read a recipe, how to make a grocery list, measurement abbreviations
Reasoning - how to budget for a meal, how to decide servings for food, how to select quality produce
Performance Skills - how to chop, mix, bake, measure, set a table, how to carve a turkey
Product - a complete meal

Once you have identified the foundational learning targets, your next step is to convert them to student friendly language, starting with the mastery standard and then the foundational standards.  I can prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. I can serve 8 people Thanksgiving dinner.  I can read a recipe. I can set a table.  I can make a budget for a meal for 8. I can chop vegetables using safe knife handling skills.  Use the student friendly targets to plan formative instruction events. Don't forget to allow time for learner self reflection. Every year I write down what worked and what didn't work in my journal.  Since this is a Product target, the final assessment would include a rubric to define mastery levels.  Fortunately my family won't be assessing my meal with a rubric! 
I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Read more about Clear Learning Targets - by Jan Chappuis

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