Learning Goals and Success Criteria

How many goals do we set as adults on a regular basis?  Whether it’s the “honey do” list that we create for our spouses in order to get projects completed around the house or the weight loss goal that we set for ourselves, we are constantly setting goals and determining what we need to do to meet that goal. If the goal is to build a deck, then we break down the list of steps that we need to take in order to meet the goal ~ design the deck, purchase the materials, build the platform, add the railings etc.  


As we continue to expand our understanding about how best to meet the needs of our students, we find ourselves exploring the research of Stiggins, Chappuis and others. They share that “learning is easier when learners understand what goal they are trying to achieve, the purpose of achieving the goal, and the specific attributes of success”  To that end, we are now working with teachers and having them develop and share Learning Goals for their units of study.  The Learning Goals are based on the Ontario Curriculum expectations, but written in student friendly language.   The success criteria (the “what” we need to meet the goal) break down the learning goal into meaningful, attainable aspects of student performance. They are in essence the “look-fors” that teachers can use in order to provide feedback for the student and ultimately a final assessment.


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For example, if the Learning Goal was: To be able to relate units of time, the success criteria may include: name units of time, use them in a sentence, understand what each unit of time means, order times from shortest to longest.


In order to support your children in their success at school, ask them the following question, “What was your learning goal in Language/Math today?”   Then see if they can articulate what they need to do in order to meet that goal.


Back to my “honey-do” list….


Goal: Prepare a Thanksgiving Meal.

Success Criteria: Complete the grocery shopping, make the stuffing, prepare the bird, boil the potatoes, make the gravy, etc. etc.   


I wonder how my in-laws will evaluate the final product?

Treading New Ground

I love being challenged.

Like most people sometimes I take up the challenge, other times I sit and wait, watching how others might handle that same challenge and sometimes I just know; THAT challenge is NOT for me.  And I’ve learned over the years to give myself permission to be okay with that.

But when  Chris Kennedy (Superintendent  from B.C.) shared his experiences with online blogging and the impact that it was having within his school district, I decided to take up the challenge on a few fronts.

I had started this blog you are reading now,  back in the summer to be more of an ‘ideas’ type blog – a place where I would grapple with some of the educational issues around student engagement I was encountering around our writing goal. My challenge with this blog was to finally send it public.  Writing in isolation is one thing, but sending it public was (and still is) very scary at times. But we ask our students to make those life connections all the time. I needed to delve into that world a bit myself, I thought!

I had been doing an ‘events’ type blog within our SchoolSites template for the past year. These focused on seasonal themes, or events which were happening in and around the school. (e.g. Literacy Night, gift-giving at Christmas, or what I got out of a movie our family watched one weekend) I also experimented a few times with a video-blog and read my favourite books for our students to listen to or gave a tour of our new wall photos and art-work.

And now, the latest challenge. It was best explained at a recent Board Meeting when our Public Relations department presented their reasoning behind setting up a TVDSB Facebook page along with a Twitter feed. (minute 42:00 on the Sept 27th video) No longer can we expect our students and their parents to always come to our websites to get the information, but in a social networking world, we have the ability to push that information out to those who are interested in getting it.

So we at Jury now are experimenting with a school Facebook page and a Twitter feed which we’ve embedded into our website for anyone to see regardless of their having a personal data device  (eg. iPhone or BlackBerry)  of their own. This also allows us to update those feeds from anywhere we are.

Over the course of the next few blogs I will explore the “why” in all of these new innovations, in our desire to communicate through many different forms of writing. At Jury there will always be that assignment which needs to be hand-written, on paper and submitted to a teacher just like students have done for decades of time. But we also want to model and demonstrate that writing takes on many forms and can be presented through many different vehicles. In one very strong sense we owe it to this generation to model (if only on a small scale) how the tools of a social networking world can be used positively and constructively to communicate facts, events and even thought provoking ideas for others to think about, discuss and then, hopefully, even write about again in their own online journals and blogs.

So today I say not only ‘come write with me’, but come blog with me, come Twitter with me, and ‘like’ us on FaceBook.  Take up that challenge; you’ll find it’s well worth your while. The learning we go through, in this journey, helps us see the world differently, and for this generation, that is very important.