Using Learning Intentions &
Success Criteria effectively in the classroom
Using learning intentions and success criteria can help teachers ensure that their activities align with what they want students to know. Teachers need to be clear in communicating both the Learning Intention and Success Criteria to students. This will give students the tools they need to take greater responsibility for their learning and achieve greater learning independence.
What is the purpose of the lesson?
When beginning teachers are asked what the purpose of their lesson is, they will often give the topic and describe the activities that students will participate in. While activities are what engage students in the learning, there needs to be a goal or intention for each lesson. This will ensure that there is a purpose to the learning.
Despite building the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria into our unit and lesson planning documents teachers, both beginning and experienced, are not always the best at sharing these with students. We need to help students develop various skills and this should be what drives instruction.
So what are Learning Intentions?
Learning Intentions are statements that describe what the teacher wants students to know, understand, and be able to do as a result of the learning and teaching activities. They are the basis for tracking student progress, providing feedback, and assessing achievement.
Learning Intentions are most effective when:
- students are challenged appropriately, according to their learning needs and abilities;
- they align with teaching and learning activities and assessment tasks;
- feedback is prompt, personalised, and informative so students can commit to achieving them; and
- they are generalised, allowing for skills to be transferred between contexts.
You can also create individual learning goals to address their specific learning needs. Just don’t overload students with these goals. While I appreciate the desk plates that state the goals students are working towards, these can sometimes be detrimental. Students just see a bunch of words or three goals that they aren’t achieving. You need to consider your student’s needs when creating your learning intentions.
What is Success Criteria?
Success Criteria are linked to Learning Intentions. They are statements that are developed by the teacher and provide more detail on how students can meet the learning intentions. Teachers use success criteria to determine if students are meeting the learning intentions.
Success Criteria are most effective when:
- they are clear and provide detail on how to achieve the learning intention;
- students are provided with a sample of What a Good One Looks Like (WAGOLL) to clarify what quality looks like.
Success Criteria need to be clear. Students need to be able to understand them. Success Criteria better allow students to take responsibility for their learning.
How to focus your lesson planning.
When teachers share with students what they will be learning (Learning Intention) and what they are looking for in their students’ work (Success Criteria), they are supporting students in developing the skills to manage themselves. As you start planning a unit of work and the lessons within that unit, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want my students to know?
- Why is that important?
- How can students learn this information?
- What other ways can students learn about this?
Once you can answer these questions you can then identify your learning intentions and success criteria for each lesson. While it is important to have engaging activities that provide students with a way to access the learning, they shouldn’t be your focus for the lesson.
Clear and specific measurable lesson objectives used in conjunction with criteria to check understanding and modify instruction when needed. This will ensure that students know where they are going and when they have achieved the identified intention.
Grab these FREE Learning Intentions posters for your classroom and start making the learning in your classroom purposeful today!