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Visible Learning Strategies and Success Criteria

Harold L. Woods Elementary School, Clovis, CAHarold L. Woods Elementary School, Clovis, CA

Harold L. Woods Elementary School implements Visible Learning strategies which have created a shared language among teachers and students. Students know what a good learner looks like and not only talk about what they are learning, but why they are learning it. Classrooms display posters to remind students of the three questions they should be able to answer with each lesson: 1. What am I learning today? 2. Why am I learning this? 3. How will I know when I’ve learned it? Student engagement has increased so now they are actively looking and improving their work on their own. Lessons include several opportunities for students to share what they are learning and explain “why” to their pair share partners.

Visible learning has also had an impact on lesson design. Teachers identify essential common core standards and develop common learning intentions, success criteria, and provide effective feedback. Teachers connect learners to a shared understanding of what learning looks like. “I can” or “We can” statements articulate what the expectations are for learners to demonstrate their learning.

Linked to learning intentions are success criteria. Success criteria provide the parameters that establish what success looks like for the learning intentions. Clearly identified success criteria provide students with a target for learning. For example, in a second grade math class, students started the lesson by telling their partner what the learning intention was for the morning. Throughout the lesson, students had opportunities to use “math talk” with their partner to describe how to regroup hundreds to tens and explain how they know. The teacher provided frequent feedback as the lesson progressed. By the end of the lesson, students were successfully able to use their work mats to demonstrate multiple methods for meeting the learning intention.

Shifting the focus from what teachers are teaching to what students are learning has had a significant impact on Woods’ academic success.