Helping Students Reach Their Goals

3:00 AM

I am so glad you have stopped by our collaborative blog, Conversations from the Classroom!  My name is Camille and I have been teaching for 25 years.  I live in Kentucky with my husband and our five children.  I love to collaborate with other educators so I am thrilled to be a part of this blog!

Goal setting is an important skill and one that often goes hand in hand with the month of January.  My friends, family, and students all begin the year ready to tackle those all important, albeit sometimes unrealistic,  resolutions.  Then, a few weeks later, many of those goals are being abandoned.  I think goal setting is an important skill we need to teach our students.  In addition, we also need to teach students a strategy to help them achieve their goals.

I really struggled with helping my students reach their goals when I first started teaching.  My first attempt was to have kids set weekly goals in their agenda.  While setting goals is always a good idea, I quickly realized that the process I used was ineffective.  The student's goals were random and unclear. We also had trouble finding the time to revisit their goals to see if they had accomplished them.  I knew we needed a different system, but I felt lost and unsure of how to best assist my students.

A few years later, a colleague shared with me a progress chart. It was a tall column divided into 9 sections. She told me that her students were using it to track their Accelerated Reader (AR) points.  They had set a goal and the paper was their tracking sheet.  I introduced it to my class and they loved it.  My top students, not surprisingly, were successful with the progress chart, but even more thrilling was that fact that my lowest students loved the chart.  They began to read tons of books and fill up their graphs.  My lowest reader, who previously was doing almost no independent reading, suddenly had 18 AR points.  And she has read approximately 30 books to reach her goal!

Visual Progress Charts

My process of setting goals with students has developed into a two part process.  First, the students set the goal and then we decide how to measure their progress toward achieving their goal.  Creating a way to track progress for the goal is often the key to making sure a goal is clear and well articulated.

I am very fortunate to teach in a school that has universal goals for our entire school.  Currently, my school has three school-wide goals and each student tracks their progress visually in a data notebook.  Our school-wide goals are for attendance, minutes read in a week, and math fact fluency.  In addition, our students also set an academic goal and another personal goal each semester.

Visual tracking (or progress charts) for the school-wide goals are a little easier to track than personal goals because every student can use the same charts.  The personal goals are a little trickier so I work with students to help  them not only set their goals, but find a way to track their progress.

Below are some examples of progress charts:

Progress Charts:  top left Reading Fluency Data, top right Minute Read per Week,
bottom left Math Fact Fluency,  and bottom right Accelerated Reader Points.  

When students can see progress toward a goal, they become much more inspired to keep working.  My students are often visual learners so when I "tell" them how to reach their they are often confused.  However, when we set goals and use a progress chart to track progress, I see an increase in excitement and motivation.  I also see an increase in the number of  students who reach their goal.

I have created a set of Independent Reading Progress Charts to help my students set reading goals.  There are goals setting sheets and progress charts for books read, minutes read, and points earned.  Tracking these goals with a visual model really helps students to build enthusiasm to read.

I challenge you to begin using progress charts to help your students reach their goals!  Have a wonderful 2017!

by A Spot of Curriculum

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