Goal Setting

Confucius said, “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” That quote popped up in my Pinterest feed and it got me to thinking about goal setting. I have found that in the past setting goals is a powerful tool with struggling and fluent readers alike.

Here is how it looks in my classroom:

Goal setting is super easy when it comes to mClass assessments. In third grade we use Dibbles and TRC to assess our readers’ fluency and reading comprehension to determine their reading level. The reading levels come in the form of alphabet letters and the further you go in the alphabet the higher the level students can read. This information isn’t solely for the teacher.

When it comes to the Dibbles assessment, I like to show my students the nice little chart that pops up at the end that shows where they stand in accuracy, fluency, and oral comprehension. I tell them what the goal was and where they fell. Then I try to give them a tip to further their ability. It goes something like this:

“Great job reading! Let’s take a look at how you did. This report will show us how you did in relation to the beginning of the year goals. The beginning of the year goal in accuracy, which is how well you can read the words correctly is 95%. You read them with 94% accuracy so you have almost met that goal. In fluency, which is how quickly you read and how smoothly you read, the goal was 80 words in a minute. You read 103 words a minute and blew that goal out of the water! A suggestion that I would make is to slow down reading and really pay attention to those words so that you read the ones that are on the page. That will help you meet your accuracy goal. Do you have any questions?”

Then the conversation would go from there. The TRC assessment data can be handled a little differently. I assess the student and then at the end I let them know what reading level they are on. I generally hold off on that conversation until I have assessed everyone and have put them into their reading groups. Once they are in their reading groups our first meeting goes something like this.

“Hello group six. I have put you all in this group because you are all reading on a level Q or R. The beginning of the year reading level is a level M like in mango and the end of the year reading goal is P like in popcorn. If you think about it like the alphabet you can notice that you have already passed the third grade levels and are now reading fourth grade level books. I’m so proud of you!” At this point group six is usually excited and air punching mumbling “yessssss” under their breath, etc. I bring us back together by saying, “So I have a question. Since you’re already above third grade level do you just wanna stay where you are, or do you want to keep reading and keep working to help you get on a fifth grade or sixth grade level?” And the crowd. Goes. Wild! They get so excited that even my highest readers are pumped and motivated to keep working hard.

If the tables are turned and students are below grade level I tell them their level and the goal level. Then we work together to create a plan to help them be as successful as they can be.

Once students know their level and what they are working towards they have a purpose for every reading group meeting. They are held accountable for their work and know why they need to complete their tasks and try their best.

When students are reassessed at the middle of the year they receive a goal sheet with their beginning score on it and their new score. There are some leading questions on the page and a space for them to reflect. Below are some of the questions I like to ask.

1. Did you improve in reading? If so what strategies did you use that helped you improve? What new goal would you like to set and what can you do to help you continue to improve?
2. Did you improve in reading? If not, what strategies do you think could help you improve in reading? What could you continue doing or stop doing this semester to help you reach your goal?

The same kind of activity occurs at the end if the year with students’ final reading levels. These goals and reflections help students feel responsible for their learning. Students set their own goals and that helps us all feel successful and really focus on the growth that is made rather than if and only if they are proficient. It keeps us moving forward, no matter the pace.

Setting goals is a critical part of my reading instruction. What are your thoughts? Do you have a process that tracts students’ growth and celebrates their progress? Share with me in the comments!

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