Learning Intent · Teaching

Learning Intent – Make it a question and record it on the front page of student’s books

For many years we have been doing “Learning Intent”. We were quick to embrace Hattie’s Visible learning

John Hattie explains the importance of sharing learning intentions.

The basic premise is that the students have the same idea as their teacher what is going on in the classroom, and what they should be learning as a result of doing. Many students are not going to know this unless it is clearly signposted – learning intentions (or objectives), and learning outcomes (or success criteria) provide this direction.



We have a Learning Intent Sticker on every board but have had mixed success in getting all staff to put their learning intent on the board regularly.

Learning Intent is part of our Teaching and Learning Cycle.

Each year staff must survey one of their classes once a term to get some feedback from students. We have some questions on this survey that directly relate to learning intent. These questions have been on the survey for a number of years and we have not seen much movement in the data.

My personal data on this survey improved dramatically a couple of years ago after a conversation with a colleague about how they do learning intent.

My colleague said he had students write the learning intentions in a page at the front of their notebooks. They begin each lesson by copying the learning intents onto the learning intents page.

I further modified my use of learning intents by always expressing the learning intent as a question.

Rather than writing:

Learning Intent: To understand how electrons are arranged in atoms and how this relates to the reactivity of elements.

I write:

Learning Intent: How are electrons arranged in atoms and how does this arrangement relate to the reactivity of elements?

I always express the Learning Intent as a question which makes success criteria pretty obvious. Can you answer the question? If the answer is yes, you have achieved the success criteria.

Here is what that looks like in a student’s workbook.

At the end of the topic, we use our learning intents page as a revision guide. We traffic light our learning intents. Green is “I got this. I can answer this.” Yellow is “I kind of remember this but need to brush up a little.” Red is “I can’t remember this. Serious revision required”

This system has focused my use of Learning Intent. Composing the learning intent as a question clarifies my thinking about the lesson. What big question do I want students to be able to answer after this lesson?

What effect did it have on my student feedback surveys?

Since I changed to this system I went from equal to or below the school average (green line) on the learning intent questions to well above the school average.

You know it works when students start asking for it. “What’s our learning intent, Mr Monk?” It also makes the “do now” activity to begin a lesson easy. Students enter the room, open their books to the learning intents page, write the date and copy down the learning intent. Exit tickets are taken care of too. Can you answer the learning intent question?

The students are seeing a practical use of writing the learning intent and their feedback suggests they are also finding this process valuable. The fact that we refer back to the Learning Intent Page at the end of each topic also makes it more useful for students. There is a purpose in writing it down.

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