Daily Learning Goals

By the end of this day, students will be able to:

This is where you will identify your specific learning goals for each day.

What’s the best way to develop daily learning goals? The best way to develop daily learning goals is to start with your overall learning objectives for the week, as well as your assessment, and then decide: “What do the students have to know, understand, and be able to do in order to achieve these objectives and deliver an excellent assessment?

What’s the best way to write daily learning goals? In general, follow the same guidelines as laid out for writing the learning objectives, above. Just like your overall objectives, daily learning goals should be:

          • Specific
          • Measurable
          • Reflective of the depth of learning needed
          • Achievable within the time allotted
          • Necessary in order for students to be able to meet the overall objectives and succeed on the assessment

To understand the importance and effectiveness of clearly defined daily learning goals, let’s compare two before-and-after pairs.

Pair #1:


Concept: San Diego historic figures have affected San Diego history in various ways; we can understand their impact by studying primary and secondary sources related to their life and achievements. Primary sources are sources of information made at the time you are studying; secondary sources are those made after the time you are studying by someone who wasn't there.


In this example, the “BEFORE” concept description lets us know the topic that will be covered (primary and secondary sources), and a bit of information about the topic, but it’s vague. It doesn’t clearly state what students should know, understand, and/or be able to do by the end of the day.

The “AFTER” example names two specific, measurable learning goals. These give the educator distinct benchmarks that they want their students to reach, and will therefore help the educator plan that day’s activities strategically to ensure that students are able to reach those goals.

Pair #2:



          • Engineering design process
          • Optimizing the design solution
          • Electromechanical engineering


The “BEFORE” example here presents a different, but equally disserving challenge. In this example, the concepts are extremely broad. They name huge topics that obviously could not be fully taught in one day. What about these topics do we want students to know?

In the “AFTER” version, the goals are specific, measurable, and achievable in the time allotted. Again, explicitly identifying these goals will then help the educator know what kinds of activities need to be included in the day.

Example of backwards planning to define daily learning goals

We can revisit the photography and media example to see how daily learning goals can be defined after establishing the overall learning objectives and the end-of-the-week assessment.

The above is where we want to be at the end of the day on Friday: our destination. So, what route will we follow to get here?

To determine the route, we have to figure out what students will need to know, understand, and be able to do in order to successfully demonstrate their understanding of the photography, technology, and writing techniques that advertisers use to target a specific audience by creating a media piece of their own.

We could first divide this into topics:

And now, we can decide what about each topic students need to know to achieve the learning objectives (the emphasis is on “need” because it will be important to resist the urge to include too much!).

Finally, we can determine the depth of knowledge needed for each topic, and define our learning goals:

--> NOTE that the depth of some of these goals imply less-deep goals within them. For example, in order to apply persuasive writing skills, students are first going to need to learn what the writing techniques are that advertisers use. This may be a prompt to further break down the learning goals.

Now that we have our learning goals figured out, we can start to visualize what our week is going to look like. Helpful questions to ask:

      • Are certain goals necessary to reach in order to be able to reach other goals? (That is, does it matter in which order things are taught?)

      • What goals are going to need the most time to reach?

      • What are the more hands-on topics, and what are the more academically challenging? (It’s always nice to have a balance between the two each day)

With the answers to these questions in mind, we could plan our week this way:

Notice that the highlighted goals were not in the initial list; in planning out the week, it became clear that precursory goals were necessary in order for students to be able to achieve the more advanced, complex goals.

Our week is beginning to take shape! Now that we’ve defined our daily learning goals, our next step is to clarify for ourselves what it will look like when students have achieved these goals each day.