“Stated learning intentions have a priming effect on learners. They signal to the student what the purpose is for learning and prevent students from having to fall back to the lowest rung on the ladder, which is compliance. They cause students to see the relationship between the tasks they are completing and the purpose of the learning.
Success criteria empower learners to assess their own progress and not to be overly dependent on an outside agent (their teacher) to notice when they have arrived.”
The learning intention for one of our first grade units focused on adding and subtracting within 20. ‘Making a ten’ as a strategy would play a prominent role; students would work to make their strategies for adding and subtracting, like composing and decomposing numbers, explicit.
Our Feast for 10 lesson would ask students to determine the total number of groceries purchased for the family feast. Adding two pumpkins and three chickens and eight tomatoes and so on would provide the opportunity for students to compose and decompose numbers. I wanted to offer a learning progression to students that would make those strategic decisions visible.
Level 4. I can determine the total number of foods bought.
Level 3. I can strategically compose/decompose numbers.
Level 2. I can compose/decompose numbers,
Level 1. I can count all.
- I liked using the word “strategically”.
- But if level 3 was the goal, it would’t make sense for the students to level up to level 4 just to get the answer. Being strategic should yield the total. So level 3 and level 4 were messy.
There were several parts of this learning progression that troubled me.
- Should I have two level 3s? Students might level up to level 3, but could they meet the criteria with doubles and near doubles if they didn’t make 10s to solve the task?
- I separated the word ‘strategic’ (in level 2) from the strategies (in level 3). The goal was for students to be strategic in their use of strategies. At the same time!
- When I tried to ‘live’ the learning progression as a student, deciding where a response would fall on the learning progression, it wasn’t always clear. How would students be able to assess their own progress when I was struggling?
- And when Level 4 asked students to show their work so a reader understands, did that statement switch from a content goal to a process goal? Was I mixing apples and oranges?
So, yes… I needed a third try.
This learning progression made sense to me!
The learning intention asked students to solve problems, think about making tens, and make their strategies explicit.
I felt that this iteration:
- Cleanly and clearly brought every mathematician to the problem solving table.
- Empowered students to assess their own progress toward the goal.
- Demonstrated a visible connection between the lesson and the purpose for learning.
Thinking about these learning progressions with our young mathematicians is hard work. But this one DID empower learners. And that includes ME.