Being intentional with student learning

Two years ago, my school started investigating student learning intentions during our PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities).  While this year, our groups were renamed TLC’s (Teacher Learning Communities), our focus has remained the same.

For someone like me who had never heard of the concept of learning intentions before; I was actually concerned that it would be another thing that we as professionals would use as a ‘buzz phrase’ but never really implement or find useful.  I am happy to say that I was wrong.


‘Learners learn best when they understand what they are learning and what is expected of them.’ – Dylan William


In order for students to take more responsibility for their own learning, they need to know:

What they are going to learn

How they will recognize when they have succeeded; and

Why they should learn it in the first place


When I begin a lesson, I start with explaining to students what the actual learning intention is. If it’s the first time for a particular intention, we will discuss it as a group, what the expectations/success criteria are and suggestions on how they could stretch their thinking. If it’s a sequential lesson where the learning intention is the same, I remind students what it is at the start of the lesson, refer back to it during the session and then review the progress with students at the end.


‘Learning intentions describe what children are going to learn, not what they are going to do’. – Dylan William

Now this is tricky because a lot of teachers get confused between the task and the learning intention. A learning intention can focus on either knowledge, skills or understanding but does not state what the actually task is. A year 2 English example would be:

LI: To explore some features of text organisation

Task: Using a nonfiction text, locate and analyse the contents page, table of contents, index and glossary.


Can you see the difference? Here’s another example, this time Maths:

LI: To recognise halves, quarters and eighths of shapes and collections

Task: Using playdough, demonstrate an understanding of halves, quarters and eighths in a variety of ways.


It is imperative that learning intentions are written in child friendly language and are displayed in a prominent place for students to refer to whenever needed. To help with this I make sure that the learning intention is attached to any recorded work in books and also front and centre as a display in the classroom. The display that I created is both interactive and extremely visual.

Because the cards are attached using rings and are hanging from pins on the wall, they can easily be taken down for the teacher to use when discussing them with the class, then returned to the wall for continual reference. It is also important for parents to be able to see the learning intentions displayed when they visit.

When a new learning intention is required, simply lift the group of cards from the wall, flip to the required card and hang it back up on the wall. No need to continually write each days / weeks intention up – simply flip and hang!

I created this 401 page display to help my year 2 students keep on track of their own learning and help make our Learning Intentions visible in the classroom.

This pack follows the Australian Curriculum Content Descriptor Elaborations (plus a few additional ones I needed for my own class!). I have done my best to cover all the Year 2 Learning Intentions you will ever need for Maths, English, HASS, Science, Health, PE, Digital Technologies, Design Technologies, and The Arts. However, if you find that you would like to add a few extra ones yourself, I have also included a PowerPoint file with 25 additional pages of the corresponding frames so you can create your own extra ones – simply type in and print.

While child friendly language has been intentionally used, a few key words have been included such as ‘viewpoints’ and ‘interpretations’ as it is important for students to be exposed to these higher order thinking terminologies.

Two styles of Learning Area headers are also included, along with headers and empty frames for each of the Languages. Premade Learning Intentions for the languages are not included due to each school being individualised, however you can use the editable .ppt file to make your own.

The cards are created as A4 size, however I printed mine two to a page and back to back to reduce on printing and laminating costs. Because they are being flipped over, it is fine to print back to back (and highly recommended!)


Best of luck on your Learning Intentions journey! I’d love to hear how you are going!