You might have heard the term “learning intentions” thrown around a lot on your campus. It’s one of those terms that’s used a lot but often not implemented in the best possible way. Learning intentions are statements that are created by the teacher, and describe clearly what they want their students to know, understand, and be able to accomplish as a result of the learning.
Learning intentions get linked to success criteria. These are developed by the teacher, and sometimes the student, and they describe specifically what success looks like. By putting these two things together (learning intentions and success criteria) students and teachers both get help making adjustments to what they’re currently learning
What’s a Learning Intention Look Like?
A learning intention should follow these rules:
- It’s used for a lesson or series of lessons.
- It’s a statement.
- It’s created by the teacher.
- It describes clearly what the teacher wants the students to know, understand, and be able to do.
- It’s the result of learning and teaching activities.
A good learning intention might read something like this:
“Students will understand the meaning of vocabulary words and use the words correctly.”
What Do Success Criteria Look Like?
Success Criteria should follow these rules:
- It should be linked to the learning intention.
- Developed by the teacher and/or the student.
- Describes what success “looks like.”
- Helps the teacher and student make judgements about the quality of student learning.
So let’s take the learning intention from above, and apply some example success criteria to it.
- Select correct vocabulary word when given meaning.
- Generate sentences that accurately include vocabulary terms.
When we combine both Learning Intentions and Success Criteria into one format it’ll look like this:
Students will understand the meaning of vocabulary words and use the words accurately.
– Select correct vocabulary word when given meaning.
– Generate sentences that accurately include vocabulary terms.
Why should we use learning intentions?
First, we have been using learning intentions for a while now. It might be a new terminology but the concept has always been there since the early days of education. Often we’re really good at making lesson plans that contain learning intentions. What we’re not that great at is sharing those with our students.
Logically, we worry that by sharing learning intentions with our students we might be hindering their individual learning. However students want to know what they’re supposed to be learning! When we share our learning intentions we actually empower our students to take more direction of their own learning. From the beginning your students are clear about what they should know by the end of the lesson, and even clearer on what they’re not understanding during the lesson.
In fact, students that regularly receive this information are usually more focused, more motivated and active, and better than other students at taking responsibility for their own learning!