Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rethinking Student Goal Setting

Photo Credit
Kate and I have been doing a lot of reflecting about how how we have done student goal setting up to this point in our Personalized Learning Journey. It was great for a while...it helped us start...it helped our previous students gain some metacognition skills...BUT...it felt like we could do it better. It felt like something was missing. We wanted to push ourselves more, as well as our students. In all honesty, it sometimes felt like "busy work", rather than pushing our personalization further.

Up to this point, we had always required WEEKLY goal setting with our students. They need to write quality goals using action steps, as well as reflection for each and every subject area. We set new goals on Mondays, and our students wrote reflections on how they did that week by Sunday night. We would check their goals. Give them feedback. It was part of our Digital Portfolios. It was...a lot. Not only for us, but also for them.
Kids, by nature, have difficulty setting goals. It isn't something they walk into our classroom automatically knowing how to do. We did A LOT of modeling and coaching. The problem often ended up that our students did not meet their goals by the end of the week. We talked about carrying over goals to the following week, and that could be noted in their reflections, but some goals took weeks to work on. This is normal. This is still okay. But, nonetheless, hard for 9 and 10 year olds to wrap their heads around. For many of our kids, it became "one more thing" that they "had to do," not the meaningful metacognition we were hoping for.

In our reflection, Kate and I were looking for how we could do this differently. How could we make it more developmentally appropriate and meaningful for our kiddos. We started exploring the option of Unit Goal Setting. 

We pre-assess for everything we teach. This helps us set up different pathway with our kids. It helps us know what they know, what they don't know, see gaps, and more. But the pre-test was really a "teacher tool." It was meaningful "Assessment For Learning"--but primarily for us. We have been discussing assessment a lot over the last few months. How can we get kids more involved. How can we help them "drive the bus" of their learning. It was then that we had one of those "a-ha" (or possibly "duh!") moments. Why do we only see those results? Why have we never put those pretests back in the hands of the kids? Ultimately, this conversation really forced us to re-evaluate our practices.

So, this year, we will be tackling UNIT GOAL SETTING with our students. We created new "Personalized Learning Plans" (PLPs) that we will be supporting students with. 

Our plan: Each unit we will still pre-assess and score the results. We will then put the pretests back in the hands of the kids and help them set UNIT goals with action steps on what they will do to meet their goals. This will help them work with us to set personal pathways for their unit of learning. For a large chunk of our kiddos (your typical 80%), their goals might be similar. They need grade level materials/instruction. They need the largest group mini-lessons. They might work through things in different orders, but there will be large chunks of them that have similar needs. The last 20% will need gaps filled or challenges to go deeper and beyond. We are eager to see how these conversations go and how the pathways play out. Students will then complete a reflection on their work at the end of each unit. When we confer with kids each day, this will become a touchstone in our conversations. We have decided that we will do this in Math, Reading, and Writing this year.
Click me to see full tool. You can "FILE, MAKE A COPY" of it, to tweak and make your own!
This PLP is also in the same Google Sheet as the reading one!
Click me to see full tool. You can "FILE, MAKE A COPY" of it, to tweak and make your own!
Each of the images above link to the Google Sheets that we made. You are welcome to "FILE, MAKE A COPY" of these documents and make them your own. The Reading and Writing PLPs are part of what we are calling our "Digital Literacy Binder" this year (a twist on our Digital Reading Binders from years past). This updated digital "binder" will also house their book log, journal, and personal literacy data. 

We are confident that we will make tweaks as the year goes on. We need to see how they do and what they think their needs are. We want their input in improving the tools. These tools will also be significant links within their digital portfolios this year.

We'll keep you posted! How are you goal setting with your students? What have you found to be the most successful? Would love to learn with you!

Happy Teaching!

~Angela

6 comments:

  1. I like your thinking a lot. The new goal setting forms look awesome. I am thinking about adapting them for my high school world language classes. Thank you for continuing to inspire me.

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    1. Thanks so much, Elke! We'd love to see what you come up with at the HS level!

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  2. Hi Angela! This looks awesome. Thank you for sharing them so we can make a copy. It's so appreciated! When you said that you linked these to your Google Sheet, can you explain that a bit more? I use Google tools so I'm interested in hearing what that looks like for your digital binder.

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    1. Sure, Becky! :) The link when you open the reading or writing PLP is in a Google SHEET (as in spreadSHEET), not a "blue Google Doc." At the bottom of the spreadsheet are multiple tabs. We use it as a sort of "digital binder", in the sense that each tab has a different purpose, but it is all housed in one, central spot (the spreadsheet). When I said I "linked them", I was really saying they are all part of the same Google Sheet. Sorry if that was confusing :) Hope that helps!

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    2. Now that I reread your question...were you referring to the linking to digital portfolios? These PLP documents become artifacts for their digital portfolios and aid in reflection of proficiency. It's an easy, already "done" artifact that they can use :)

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  3. You answered my question with your first response. Thank you!

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