CBE Unit 2

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Learning Objectives

In this unit, students will be able to:

(3) assemble a selection of learning targets, written in student-friendly language, that can be used to assess student understanding of essential concepts.

(4) develop a formative assessment using a selection of different exemplars that are aligned to the course learning targets that can be used to accurately assess student understanding of those targets.

Lesson 2.1 - My Understanding of Learning Targets


In this unit, you will be working with the state or local standards for the course you currently teach. Be prepared to select one or two that you can use to complete the ASSESSMENT portion of each lesson.

In the first unit of this mini-course, you were assessed on two essential learning targets, which were marked with numbers in parentheses (i.e. (1) and (2)). A vast majority of schools across the country have begun to require teachers to create, post, and use learning objectives/targets throughout every lesson, with good reason.

REFLECT: In the Google Form here, reflect on your current use of learning targets. Are you required to create and post them? If so, when do you find them valuable? Are there ways you have found that learning targets can engage students in learning and how?

READ AND REFLECT: Below is a link to a blog written by Linda Suskie, author of the book Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, a reference work for college faculty and administrators when building assessments meant to measure students learning and create positive learning environments for students. In the post, she notes some of the characteristics of "Well Stated Learning Goals." In the Google Form, reflect on her words. Are any of Suskie's recommendations potentially useful? Do her suggestions differ greatly from the practices you mentioned in your first reflection?

Lesson 2.2 - Creating Learning Objectives for Students

First and foremost, establishing a Competency-Based classroom requires a methodical use of well designed learning objectives that prompt advanced student learning, and can be used as a measuring stick to determine if the student has achieved competency. Without the learning objectives, teachers would have no way of knowing when students have achieved their goal, and are thus ready to proceed to the next topic.


Though beyond the scope of this mini-course, it is important to recognize that teachers, including you, are experts in your field, and in the state or local standards that apply to your course. For this reason, you are aware of what topic are essential for the students to learn for the summative assessment at the end of the year, learning in the next grade level, or their future as a student or educated adult. Creating learning targets that students can understand and you can use to measure their learning begins at being able to "unpack" these essential standards, and finely parse the skills the students must know and be able to do.

Wiggins and McTighe (2005) provide a multi-tiered scaffold for unpacking standards, and how it can be used to create essential learning targets. The document here provides an example of how Wiggins and McTighe's scaffold is used (later in this unit, you will fill out the same document for an essential standard of your choosing!).

Step 1 - The Standard Copy the essential standard or learning goal as written.

Steo 2 - The Big Idea from the Nouns and Adjectives Highlight the nouns and adjectives in the standard that require the students to perform a skill that is frequently used in various contexts across your course. The skill could be specific to the course, or more wide-ranging.

Step 3 - Real-World or In-Course Performances from the Verbs Highlight the verbs that require the students to perform a skill directly related to the content in your lesson, or a real-world scenario where the skill would apply.

Step 4 - Content Specific Vocabulary List the content-specific vocabulary terms the standard dictates (and thus must be taught, either during the lesson or prior).

Step 5 - Understanding Ideas (Learning Targets) Draft the learning targets using the above information, and the requirements below. (p. 64)

When Creating High-Quality Learning Targets Follow the ABCDs

Bloom's Taxonomy Payne.jpg

(1) Audience - Write your learning target from the perspective of the student, in language that preserves the rigor of the course, but is not so overloaded with vocabulary that it muddles the purpose. Beginning with "I can" or "Students will be able to" satisfies this.

(2) Behavior - State what the students will be doing! Begin this section with a verb from Bloom's Taxonomy that matches the skill being assessed. See the picture to the right.

(3) Conditions - Write what situation the students will find themselves in when assessing this target, or note what information they will be given to solve a problem (sets of data, technology, etc.)

(4) Degree - Make it clear how the students will know they are successful. Consider how accurate they must be, how long the task should take, or the anticipated length of the assignment. (Larson and Lockee, 2014, p. 119)

The sample document from above shows how this model can be followed to draft two learning targets from Algebra 1. The A, B, C, and D are shown within the targets.

ASSESSMENT: Before moving on, let's put all of these features in to practice. Below is a link to a blank copy of Wiggins and McTighe's Unpacking Standards Scaffold. Select an essential learning standard from a course you teach. Use the scaffold, the sample scaffold, and what we have just learned to unpack the standard. Then, draft at least one learning target derived from the standard. Be sure the target is written in language your students will understand, but does not sacrifice rigor. When you are finished, copy the document URL in the Google Form here for submission.

Lesson 2.3 - Assess Students using Formative Assessment

REFLECTION ON CURRENT PRACTICE: Below are two links. The first provides ten examples of formative assessments deemed by the author as beneficial for tracking students growth toward the learning target. The second is a series of three infographics indicating what role students play in the creation and effectiveness of formative assessments.

In the Google Form here, answer the following questions in as much detail as you see fit:

  • What do each of the strategies listed in the first document have in common? Are there aspects of these formative assessments that are wildly different from one another?
  • When students are completing formative assessments, do they take an active role, a passive role, or some combination of the two? Explain your reasoning.
  • What strategies do you employ on a regular (at least one weekly) basis to assess student learning? Do these strategies have the same characteristics as those presented here?

As shown in the reading, formative assessments, in whatever form they take, contain several features to promote and measure student learning:

(1) The assessment always directly measure a learning target for that lesson. Remember, the "Conditions" portion of the learning target is meant to tell exactly when students need to be able to do to be successful.

(2) Allow the teacher and students to question the students' current understanding of the target. This is rarely in terms of totally right or totally wrong. As long as the students have met the predetermined competency for the skill, we have evidence that adequate learning has taken place.

(3) Tasks are meant to measure learning, but also an opportunity to practice and grow. Formative assessments should be used as stepping stones toward developing competency for the target, not a "one and done."


(4) Provides an opportunity for feedback, both from the teacher and the student. Without feedback, students are likely to either make the same mistakes over and over, or not stretch their new-found learning to new heights.

(5) Provides an opportunity for self-assessment along the way. You have completed one self-assessment of your learning to this point, with another to come.

ASSESSMENT: Below is a link to a Google document with a sample activity planner. Select one of the learning targets you created in the Lesson 2.2 Assessment that you feel could be accurately measured using two formative assessments.

The worksheet asks you to describe the activity the students will complete in some detail. Please include a rough time estimate that you believe it would take the students to complete the tasks. Then, respond to each prompt, highlighting how your assessment measures the target, shows the students' current understanding, allows for practice and growth, provides feedback, and provides for a self-assessment. Remember, not all features may appear during the same class period, but all should appear at some in the learning process.

Submit your document using the Google Form here.


Take this opportunity to complete a self-assessment for this unit. Please write what feedback or assistance you may need so you meet your own competency. Here is the link.

Move on to CBE Unit 3


Armstrong, P. (2019). Bloom's Taxonomy. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/.

How I Know. (2018). Formative Assessment: The Student Role. Retrieved from https://www.gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/MSDF-StudentRoles-FINAL-26Jan2018v1.pdf.

Larson, M, and Lockee, B. (2014). Streaminged ID: A practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York, NY: Routledge.

Suskie, L. (2018). A Common Sense Approach to Assessment in Higher Education.. Retrieved from https://www.lindasuskie.com/apps/blog/show/45689916-what-are-the-characteristics-of-well-stated-learning-goals-.

Wabisabi Learning. (2019. 10 Innovative formative assessment examples for teachers to know. Retrieved from https://www.wabisabilearning.com/blog/formative-assessment-examples

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design (2nd Ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.