Helping students successfully meet learning standards starts with teachers gaining a thorough, working understanding of the standards they are teaching. When a teacher takes the time to translate the standards into learning targets or I-Can statements or success criteria for students, they are empowering their own teaching and supporting student learning.

Some teachers take the time to write their own student-friendly learning targets. Others simply add an “I-Can” in front of the standards in their original form while others may borrow another teacher’s I-Can statement. But making the effort to translate each applicable standard into a clear, easily understandable learning target for students has multiple benefits.

First, it ensures that we, as teachers, truly understand the standards that guide our teaching. The act of putting something into our own words, and ones that are jargon-free, ensures we really understand a concept. This understanding then facilitates effective differentiated instruction and enables a scope and sequencing of the curriculum that will make sense to students. 

Second, it helps students to know what they’re learning, why they are learning it, and how they will know they’ve learned it. When made plain to them, these standards become their learning roadmap. To be useful, this roadmap needs to be reinforced continually. Each time we teach something, we need to link the lesson to a student-friendly target. The roadmap also helps make students active learners, able to understand when they have or have not learned something. 

Finally, a thorough understanding of the roadmap underscores the fact that the standards, not our teaching style, are the constant. This means that to help students successfully meet the standards, we must continually reassess and adjust our teaching. And students must understand the why for what we ask of them, which makes our teaching more intentional. 

So, we encourage you, if you don’t already, spend time with the standards, and be sure to translate them into student-friendly learning targets!