Miss Ash's Learning Journey

My personal reflections of teaching and learning today

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria


This week we formally introduced success criteria to our community. Both Maria and I have quite naturally discussed the concepts of success criteria with our students when introducing what learning intentions are so this was actually very successful. In fact, I remember at our original ARM being upset about focusing on learning intentions and not introducing success criteria which was why I was so surprised when Christine and Rebecca said the other day that telling us that we could have. Nevertheless the students have become so confident discussing what they intend to learn and we have had lots of discussion about how they will know when they have achieved their intention that adding the language of ‘I will know I’m successful when… I can…’ has been very fluid and successful.

Last year I changed from writing just 3C’s in reflection journals to setting learning goals at the start of teh week and this worked really well so we continued doing this again this year. This allowed us to have lots of discussion with the focus students about their personal learning intentions and not only how would they achieve it but also how would they know they were successful (success criteria)! This has also helped not only myself to set SMART (Small, measurable, achievable, realistic and time related) learning intentions but also the students. The majority can take a general learning intention like:

We are learning to… read and record time

And personalise them based on results from pre-tests, feedback from the teacher, feedback from other students and from their own self evaluation. For example, most could take the learning intention above and write it for their weekly learning intention as…

My learning intention is to learn to… read and record time on a digital clock

My learning intention is to learn to… read and record time on an analog clock

My learning intention is to learn to… read and record time on an analog clock on the ipad

My learning intention is to learn to …read and record time using a real analog clock

My learning intention is to learn to… read and record time in standard and 24 hour or military time

My learning intention is to learn to… read and record time using timetables

I have also noticed that when I put a learning intention up at the start of the lesson, even if I haven’t asked students to record the lesson’s learning intention in their workbooks, many still chose to write it down so that they can refer to it throughout the lesson. I am now encouraging them to take a photo on their iPads but some do like to manually write it out (I would to because the writing of it helps me remember it and keep it in my memory while I work).

I also liked the analogy of success criteria as a cake. For literacy the success criteria is usually about the ingredients. About what you include in that successful piece of work. In Maths however, the success criteria is focused on the method, of what you had to be able to do to be successful.

Going back a bit, this week I asked the students to blog their weekly learning intentions as well as one way they would know they had been successful. I thought their understanding of their learning was exceptional! You can see for yourself on our blog.


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ARM Goals – Learning Intentions


The goal we’ve set in our community is to state our learning intentions before every math lesson and to start doing this for reading and writing lessons as well.

It’s interesting that I was visiting a state school the other day and they state the learning intention and write it on the board before every lesson. I’m not sure whether this was something they built up to or whether they unpacked it but I do wonder whether writing it on the board every time might end up being over kill and disengaging some students.

Personally I like that we are stating our general learning intentions for the week and supporting the students to set their own goals based on this AND their own needs. For example, one of our learning intentions might be ‘to make our expositions more persuasive’. We then break this down with the student and brainstorm what makes a good exposition persuasive. Students are encourage to read teacher comments on previous writing tasks and set a goal for themselves. It could be simply to improve their handwriting so that the reader is able to easily read their work. It could be to use more emotive words in their writing or to make more careful selection of vocabulary (not just any emotive word but the most effective one). Other students may have decided that they can make their writing more persuasive by improving punctuation, completing more work, having paragraphs or writing topic sentences at the start of each paragraph. While it takes time and many students need support, this is one way that students are encouraged to be independent and take ownership of their learning, once all students are setting their own learning intentions it really is personalized learning.

From the focus we’ve done this year on breaking down the learning intentions I can see where eventually a capacity matrix would come in. It reinforces my belief however that introducing capacity matrices last year was not the best decision For my students. Now that the students are understanding learning intentions at a much deeper level and have a lot more understanding of the language of developmental Maths I can see the capacity matrix being a tool they could use independently and throughout the year to record their achievement.

Reading over last years comments I was disappointed and to be honest, quite disheartened, that a teacher feeling strongly about a particular tool being the wrong technique to take with their students is interpreted as the teacher being close minded and ‘blaming the tool’ rather than their teaching. Reflecting on these comments I question the validity of our research especially when the evidence collected that supported the negative impact of the tool is then reinterpreted as being a reflection on the students ability to use a the tool rather than a reflection on the tools suitability for that student at that time.

That’s not to say I feel negatively about research projects or that I’m holding on to negative feelings from last year. I’m simply doing as asked and reflecting on my journey. The fact is that it’s always going to be easier to agree with the majority and there will always be people who judge others for having a different opinion. It takes a strong person to take a different view and not be wavered, not because they are simply stubborn, but because they see something that everyone else doesn’t. And I suspect it these people who have the potential to be the innovators of the world.

So, what does this mean for this years project?

I’ve taken on board that I have to call the learning intentions ‘intentions’ rather than objectives which was frustrating since I’ve been stating the learning objective, the LO, at the start of a math lesson for 5 years now thanks to working overseas. And my students from last year were already in this routine. I do personally believe objective is a better word since it infers a goal that needs to be met where as intention indicates its only what you ‘intend’ to do. Nevertheless we have made the change to LI and if I sometimes say LO I think that’s fair enough!

I know the schools focus was to write learning intention but I think it’s a lot less effective to only state it at the start of the lesson than it is to right from the start have the students reflect whether on not they think they achieved it at the end of the lesson.

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