Formative Assessment 201 – Part 2: Where the Learner is Going

This module focuses on the first aspect of Dylan Wiliam’s framework related to embedded formative assessment strategies: where the learner is going. We discuss the role of the teacher, peer, and learner in the process of clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and success criteria. Subsequent modules focus on the other part of the framework.

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Developed by Carla Evans & Jeri Thompson
National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment

Transcript

Welcome to Module 2: Where the learner is going: Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and success criteria. This module is part of Micro-Course 2: Learning Acceleration Using Formative Assessment Processes in the Classroom (Advanced version) created by the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence and the Center for Assessment. There is an Introduction to Micro-Course 2 module that explains the purpose, organization, and intended use of each micro-course and should be watched first, if you have not already done so.

First, we ask that you think about the following question either alone or with colleagues: How do you typically begin a lesson with students? What are you trying to accomplish in a lesson opening, and why?

Please pause the video and respond to this question. After your reflection or discussion, resume playing the video.

This module focuses on the first aspect of Dylan Wiliam’s framework related to embedded formative assessment strategies: where the learner is going. We discuss the role of the teacher, peer, and learner in the process of clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and success criteria. Subsequent modules focus on the other part of the framework.

You may hear various terms used to discuss learning intentions such as learning goals or learning targets. These terms are interchangeable, but all should be aligned to and derived from the broader curricular goals and state content standards. Learning intentions reflect the idea that teaching should always be an intentional process. It’s critical to ask and answer: What will my students be trying to learn? What does success (or hitting the target) look like?

This means that not only does the teacher need to clearly know and be able to describe the lesson’s learning target and success criteria, but also that students should be able to articulate it as well.

When students don’t know what they are intended to learn or how they will know if they’ve learned what they were supposed to, we have the Alice in Wonderland problem.

Alice asks the Cheshire Cat in the book by Lewis Carroll, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cheshire Cat replies: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice says: “I don’t much care where” to which the Cheshire Cat responds: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.” But, Alice clarifies “so long as I get somewhere.” The Cheshire Cat responds: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

The Alice in Wonderland problem is not what we want for our students. We want them to have a clear understanding of the learning goals (where they are going) and success criteria (how will they know if they’ve arrived). This process involves both the teacher and the student.

We focus first in this module on learning goals [hit enter]. Learning goals help students make connections among lessons within a larger sequence, and to the purpose for their learning in general. Research indicates that students who can identify and understand the learning expectations for a lesson or set of lessons are better prepared to support one another and to take responsibility for their own learning.

Over the next two slides we provide two examples of Learning Goals in Action. These selected videos show how a teacher communicates the purpose for the lesson using different techniques. As you watch each video, what do you notice? What does the teacher do to clarify, share, and help students understand the learning goals for the day? Let’s listen to the first video. [hit enter/play].

One thing I noticed is that the teacher had students use a turn and talk technique where each student used the key academic vocabulary to discuss what they would be doing. I also noticed that the students in the video demonstrated an understanding of the vocabulary, but not necessarily why they were learning about dividends, divisors, and remainders or how it connected to previous or future learning.

Now let’s listen to the second example. Again, what do you notice? What does the teacher do to clarify, share, and help students understand the learning goals for the day? [hit enter/play].

I noticed that the teacher reviewed the academic vocabulary and meaning to make sure students could understand what the two learning goals were for the day. I also noticed the teacher had provided the students with a handout where they had the learning goals written down, as well as on the whiteboard for them to refer to later.

Overall, there are a few key takeaways related to learning goals. First, learning goals address what students will learn. These goals can be stated in terms of what students will know, understand, or be able to do by the end of the lesson or series of lessons, or they may be stated in terms of how students will apply what they know. Second, learning goals can be presented in a variety of ways, including writing the goals on the board, circulating documents through a document-sharing Website, sharing on interactive whiteboards, etc. Finally, learning goals are presented near the start of the lesson. A teacher may begin the lesson by immediately presenting the learning goals, or the teacher may begin with an initial warm-up activity and then present the goals.

We are discussing formative assessment processes in relation to student learning in this micro-course, but teachers are learners too! [click enter] The FARROP tool, which stands for “Formative Assessment Rubrics, Reflection, and Observation Protocols” supports formative assessment processes in relation to teacher learning. The tool provides a set of continuums that show high-quality implementation of formative assessment processes in a classroom from beginning to extending. Expert practice is described under the extending column.

This is a screenshot of part of the continuum for learning goals. You can download the full continuum using the hyperlink on the slide, but you can see that an expert teacher will present the focus of the lesson as part of a coherent sequence of learning, with meaningful connections made to previous or future learning.

The FARROP continuums can be used for self-reflection purposes, reflection on the practice of a peer, and/or requested observation from an instructional coach or leader for focused feedback

Now let’s turn to success criteria, or criteria for success. Research suggests that students are more able to demonstrate their own learning when they understand what quality work actually looks like. In other words, students need to understand how they will know if they’ve arrived and met intended learning goals?

We have two video examples of success criteria in action. As before, as you watch the video example consider: what do you notice? What does the teacher do to clarify, share, and help students understand the success criteria for the lesson? [hit enter/play]

Did you notice how this teacher connected the learning goals and success criteria? The teacher started by identifying the purpose for the lesson, including where it is situated within broader learning using objectives written on the board, reviewed key vocabulary, and then asked students to write their own success goals.

Now let’s watch a second example of success criteria in action and then we will briefly discuss. [hit enter/play]

Did you notice how the teacher clearly articulates what success will look like in this classroom activity. What students will do and how they will communicate with one another. In this sense, clarifying success criteria is seamlessly folded into the activity instructions in a natural way–not as an add on or compliance activity.

Overall, there are a few key takeaways related to success criteria. First, criteria for success flow naturally from clarifying and sharing learning goals. It doesn’t have to be two separate events; they go together. Second, criteria for success describe what success in learning would look like or what students could do to demonstrate their learning. The criteria can take the form of “I can” statements that explicate what all students will know or understand by the end of the lesson, a rubric that students can use to check their work (or creating a rubric together with students), examples of strong (exemplars) or weak work that illustrate aspects of quality, a “preflight” checklist, etc.

On page 42 of the FARROP tool, there is the success criteria continuum. Use this tool to self-reflect on your own practices and examine the extent to which you could deepen the quality of the formative assessment strategies you use with your students.

In closing, we wanted to provide some examples of learning targets and success criteria–especially as you may be wondering: Where do the learning targets and success criteria come from? As mentioned earlier, they come from the state content standards and curriculum materials. The learning targets should be on-grade level expectations, even if that means students need “just in time” instruction and accelerated learning approaches to reach for those on-grade level demonstrations.

There are many ways to clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria in classrooms. We shared four selected video examples where different techniques are shared. Take a few minutes and watch one or two of the video examples. There are additional video examples provided in the playlist hyperlinked on this slide. Just look for videos that start with the title: “Teacher communicates expectations for learning.”

On the next three slides, we provide a set of examples. On this slide is an example of unit goals, lesson learning targets, and success criteria from a Gr 4 math unit in which students are expected to demonstrate conceptual understanding of place value and rounding and also solve two-digit addition and subtraction problems fluently using multiple algorithms.

The next two slides contain examples of learning targets and success criteria for a Gr 6 ELA unit on argumentative writing [click to next slide] and High School Biology unit on natural selection. Please pause the video and take a minute to read through the unit goals, lesson learning targets, and success criteria for any of these examples that interest you. Resume playing when you are done.

Modules 3-4 in Micro-Course 2 go deeper into specific aspects of Dylan Wiliam’s framework. This slide provides an advanced organizer so that you know which module you can go to in order to find out more about certain topics including: providing feedback that moves student learning forward and involving students and their peers in the formative assessment process.

We believe that it is essential to take a few minutes to reflect upon what you just heard, organize it in your own mind, and to apply it to your classroom assessment practice. Pause to reflect and respond to the following:
1) Describe how learning goals and success criteria relate to one another.
2) Explain why it is critical to clarify, share, and ensure student understanding of learning goals and success criteria.
3) Reflect on your own practice: How have you been sharing learning goals and success criteria with your students? How could you improve your practice after listening to this module?
4) Identify an upcoming unit of study. How could you build varied opportunities to clarify and share learning goals and success criteria with your students in this unit?
5) What is one key takeaway and one lingering question you have after listening to this module?

You’d need to analyze the resulting student work!  We talk more about student work analysis in Module 4, but this slide lists all the components. 

  1. Sort the student work intro three piles or groups:  
    • What is the evidence of developing understanding that can be built upon?
    • What issues or concerns are evidenced in the student work?
  2. What are the next instructional steps based on the evidence?

Modules 3-4 in Micro-Course 1 go deeper into figuring out where the learner is now and how to close the gap between where the learner is and the grade level expectations.

We believe that it is essential to take a few minutes to reflect upon what you have heard and try to apply it to your professional practice.  Pause to reflect and respond to the following:

  1. Describe the purpose, characteristics, and fundamentals of designing or selecting a pre-assessment.
  2. Consider an upcoming lesson or unit of study that you teach. What are the learning goals?
  3. What pre-assessment question(s) could you develop based on the goals for your unit or lesson? What are the instructional implications for each? 
  4. Describe one way your pre-assessment could be used by students to set, monitor, or adjust their own learning goals.
  5. What is one key takeaway and one lingering question you have after  listening to this module?

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Formative Assessment 101 – Introduction

This video will provide you with the information you will need to understand the intended audience, guiding questions, organization, and proposed uses of the four modules in Micro-Course 1 as well as how Micro-Course 1 relates to the modules in Micro-Course 2. Both micro-courses focus on learning acceleration using formative assessment processes in the classroom.

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