Learning Targets in Your Primary Classroom

I honestly can't believe it's taken me almost 2 years to write my first blog post! Not sure what took me so long but I'm here now and I'm really excited to share my ideas with you guys.

Learning targets are something I get asked frequently on Instagram so I thought this would be a great place to start. 
Learning targets are a great way to guide learning in your classrooms. My learning targets are in student-friendly language or "I Can" statements that are an easy way for students to know and understand what our focus is in the classroom. 

I created these learning targets (click here for this editable resource) so that my students could take ownership of their learning. This puts a spotlight on our main areas of need.  If you follow me on social media, you know that this year I started a new position as an EIP teacher. We only focus on two subject areas and those are reading and math. In order to figure out what learning targets needed to be posted, I tested my students using simple assessments that I created. I also tested each students' reading level along with school-administered MAP testing, which is given three times a year. The combination of these assessments provided great feedback on where my students are academically.

(I test students three times during the first semester and repeat testing the second semester, which allows me to monitor their growth.)

Once all my data was collected, I was able to generate classroom learning targets. To create them, I first print, then laminate, and cut each learning target. I used magnetic tape from Amazon to adhere them to the board. I cut two small squares and placed them on the back of each target which is color-coordinated to assist us in identifying our focus during independent centers. Each students' name is typed, printed, and laminated with the magnetic tape placed on the back which can be easily manipulated by each child.

Once our learning targets are posted, we have a discussion about each one. I make sure to have assessments readily available and each student is asked to identify what was difficult for them. If for some reason the student is unable to recall, I pull them to my small group table and we revisit the assessment and talk about the areas we wish to master.
After we have our "classroom data talk" I allow students to then choose their learning target (as long as it aligns with their data). Students now have their "why" and for the most part, they understand what they need to work on while they're in my classroom. When I pull my groups, students come into my room and grab their center tub based on their current learning targets. They're to work on that skill independently while I pull my small groups. 

Each center tub has a matching learning target. If students can't read their learning targets, I've added stickers for them to match up. (Students move to different learning targets throughout the year, based on their growth!)

Each tub contains multiple activities that focus on the specific skill labeled on the outside. I place partner games, puzzles, dry erase mats, task cards, manipulatives, and other materials needed to complete the different activities, inside. I change out the resources as the seasons change or as new skills get mastered. When I add new material to the tub, I make sure to go over that activity to ensure they know how to utilize the new resource correctly. I also have QR codes in each bin that are linked to various YouTube videos that teach/review each skill. I added these QR codes to help alleviate interruptions during my small group time. They almost serve as another "teacher".

I realize that a lot of you probably teach more than just reading and math. This year, my learning targets mainly focus on foundational skills in reading and math and not so much the current standards. Last year when I was a first-grade classroom teacher, I used learning targets too! Back then, my learning targets focused on the current standards in all subject areas and students chose their targets based on the data from the weekly assessments. (ELA and Math) Students remain on the learning target until they demonstrated mastery of the following weekly assessment as well as various classroom activities. If you want to learn more about learning targets and how they can be used in your classroom, shoot me an email (theteacherwiththeowltattoo@gmail.com) and we can chat. I also plan to do another blog post on this subject with a focus on the standards.

Think about it, as teachers, we like to know our grows and glows in the classroom. We are usually aware of the areas we need to work on and do what we need to do in order to show growth. The same goes for students! Learning targets are a great way for them to monitor their progress. It gives them a purpose and allows them to be held accountable for their learning.
Next year, I plan to have students keep track of their progress using a simplified version of my data notebook resource that I used in the classroom as a homeroom teacher. This will take student ownership to the next level. 
By no means am I an expert. This is just something I found that worked in my classroom. I still tweak it often but I love the results I've gotten so far.
(Also, I want to shoutout my former principal and AP that brought this idea into our school. I was skeptical in the beginning but hearing my students verbalize what they're working on and why, made all the difference in my classroom)
I hope you were able to gain something from this post that you can utilize in your classroom. 
As always, happy teaching!