Success in the Mathematics Classroom

Learning goals and success criteria have become an important part of classrooms around the globe. Teachers have always had goals for their students, and have always expected a certain set of criteria, but the process has become more transparent and we now share these things with students at the outset of our units of study. Some teachers refer to them as learning targets, but no matter the name the goal is to provide students with a reference for the required learning.

Anyone with experience in the classroom knows that learning expectations are incredibly layered and it can sometimes be difficult to tease out all of the important pieces without overwhelming the students. In mathematics, the T.A.C.K. board makes this task a little simpler.

Here in Ontario, students are assessed using four achievement categories from the curriculum. No matter the subject, student work is measured against:
  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Thinking
  • Communication
  • Application
These are the foundation of the T.A.C.K. board - Thinking, Application, Communication, and Knowledge & understanding.

A Little More About The Categories

The Ontario curriculum documents describe the four categories of the achievement chart in this way:

Knowledge and Understanding:

"Subject-specific content acquired in each grade (knowledge), and the comprehension of its meaning and significance (understanding)."


"The use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes, as follows:
  • planning skills (e.g., understanding the problem, making a plan for solving the problem)
  • processing skills (e.g., carrying out a plan, looking back at the solution)
  • critical/creative thinking processes (e.g., inquiry, problem solving)"


"The conveying of meaning through various oral, written, and visual forms (e.g., providing explanations of reasoning or justification of results orally or in writing; communicating mathematical ideas and solutions in writing, using numbers and algebraic symbols, and visually, using pictures, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and concrete materials)."


"The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts."

Building The T.A.C.K. Board

The T.A.C.K. board helps students to understand what is expected from them in each of these categories. The ideas are posted in kid-friendly language in a way that is easy for them to see and follow. We build the board over time, as I introduce and students have the chance to try out the skills. At this early point in the year our board looks like this:
I began introducing these ideas during my small-group instruction. I was able to draw out the expectations with each group at a level that was appropriate for individual students. My "high flyers" are able to dive into this in far more detail, but all of these things are still accessible to my students who require more support.

You'll notice that the Knowledge category is blank. This is where I will be posting the specific learning goals/success criteria for the unit we are currently working on. This is the only part of the T.A.C.K. board that will change throughout the year. All of the Thinking, Application and Communication will remain the same as these are skills that are found across all math strands. For example, we are just moving away from a focus on representing numbers so I may have posted goals such as "I can represent numbers to 100 in a variety of ways." or "I can represent numbers to 100 using base ten blocks." As we head into our unit on addition and subtraction I'll be adding the specific learning goals.

As the year progresses we will continue to build and expand our T.A.C.K. board. If you're interested in creating one of your own, I have posted the headers you see above HERE in my TpT store.

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