Co-creating Learning Targets with Your Students

When getting started with V5 Learn Practice Compete STEM Lab Units, co-creating learning targets with your students is an essential first step in successfully implementing the unit. The learning targets you create with your students will not only provide focus for both teachers and students throughout the unit, but also an accurate and shared understanding of student progress as well, including in the Debrief Conversation.

This article will outline a process for creating learning targets with your students, and provide suggestions for making this easy in your classroom. Throughout the article, the Team Freeze Tag STEM Lab Unit will be used to illustrate this process.

Steps for Co-Creating Learning Targets with your Students

  1. Establish a shared goal based on the Unit competition: Every Learn Practice Compete style STEM Lab Unit is centered around a culminating classroom competition. In order for students to engage in the successful creation of learning targets, they first must understand exactly what the competition is, and how to win it.

    • In the Introduction section of Lesson 1 of each STEM Lab Unit, there is an animation that demonstrates how to play and win each competition, such as this one from the Team Freeze Tag Unit.
    • Each STEM Lab also provides a Competition Activity Document which provides detailed information about the setup and rules for each Competition. Show the video to your students, and share the Competition Activity Document with them, and facilitate a discussion to be sure everyone understands the object of the competition as well as the rules.
  2. Determine the essential knowledge students need in order to be successful in the competition: Have a discussion with students about the knowledge and skills they will need to compete in the competition at the end of the Unit.
    • Frame the conversation with a question, for example, “What will you need to learn and do during the Team Freeze Tag Unit in order to compete successfully in the competition?”
    • As you facilitate this discussion, keep the various skills and understandings students will need for the Unit in mind, and guide students towards them when necessary. It is important to co-create learning targets that address not only computer science and engineering skills, but also those essential to using the engineering design process, such as iteration, collaboration, and learning from failure.
    • Keep a list of the skills and understandings you generate with the students on the board or elsewhere for students to see during this process. For example, at the end of the discussion for the Team Freeze Tag Unit, you may end up with a list that looks something like this:
        • How to build the TrainingBot
        • How to drive the TrainingBot with the Controller
        • How to add and use the Bumper Switch with the TrainingBot
        • How to code the robot stop driving when the Bumper Switch is pressed
        • How to iterate on my driving strategy
        • How to collaborate with my team to create a strategy for the Team Freeze Tag Competition
        • How to use my engineering notebook to record data that will help me make a strategy
  3. Co-create learning targets based on the fundamental unit understandings: For each fundamental unit understanding, one or more learning targets can be created.
    • It may help to establish a form for learning targets, such as: "I can /learning verb/ object." For example, “I can code the robot to stop driving when the Bumper Switch is pressed.” Help students to create learning targets based on the list of understandings you generated together for each of the four following domains:
        • Knowledge - What do I need to know in order to successfully compete in the Team Freeze Tag Competition?
          • Example: "I can drive the robot to tag the Bumper Switch of another robot."
        • Reasoning - What can I do with what I know and understand about a concept in order to successfully compete in the Team Freeze Tag Competition? 
          • Example: "I can use the data I record in my engineering notebook to create a driver strategy for the Team Freeze Tag Competition." 
        • Skills - What can I demonstrate to show that I understand the concept and will be able to use it to successfully compete in the Team Freeze Tag Competition?
          • Example: "I can collaborate with my teammates to create a strategy for the Team Freeze Tag Competition." 
        • Products - What can I make to demonstrate my learning of the concept? 
          • Example: "I can record the number of times I tagged another robot in a match in my engineering notebook." 
    • This example template, can be used as a starting point for co-creating learning targets with your students. It can be adapted to meet the specific needs of your students.


Helpful Suggestions: 

  • Provide students with example learning targets and sentence starters to help them get started.
  • Provide a table or organizer, such as this one, to help students organize their thoughts and create learning targets for each of the above domains.
  • Share and discuss learning verbs with your students, so that you all are on the same page with the depth of understanding that is signified by a learning target.
  • Allow students to create and add their own personalized learning targets to those created with the class.
  • Remember to include learning targets for collaboration, teamwork, iteration and other skills in addition to the STEM concepts covered in the Unit.

For additional information on the value of incorporating student self-assessment, see this article. For additional information on using co-created learning targets effectively during the Debrief Conversation of Learn Practice Compete STEM Lab Units, see this article .


For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus

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