Friday, August 12, 2016

10 Things To Do Before Back to School: #8

The next tip I have for getting ready for back to school involves setting goals with students.  While students may not be in your classroom yet, you can begin to think about what you want your students' goals to look like, how you will track them, and how you will celebrate successes.  

Goal setting is the process of establishing an outcome (a goal) to serve as the aim of one's actions. 

It also gives students a clear explanation of where they are going and why you are doing what you’re doing in your classroom – a purpose for their learning.

Goals may be relatively close at hand (proximal) such as reading one chapter tonight, or more long term (distant) such as reading one chapter by the end of the current week. Proximal goals lead to higher motivation directed toward goal attainment than do long-term goals (Bandura, 1986). 

I have found that implementing student goals in my classroom dramatically changes student learning.   When students are a part of the decision making process regarding what they would like to work on, what the goal should be and what happens when they reach that goal, they are more motivated to work toward it.  

Here are some steps to help you get started:

1.Decide if you are going to have one similar long term goal for all students or individual long term goals.
2.Choose 1 – 2 goals that are TOP PRIORITY.
3.Decide how you are going to measure/track those goals.
4.Decide how often you are going to check on progress
5.Celebrate successes.

Choosing a long term goal with a student or class is important, but you should be able to break down that goal into smaller, short term goals.  

Long Term Goal: Every student will increase the number of sight words read by the end of the school year.
Short Term Goal: Max will increase the number of sight words read by ten by the end of the first quarter.

Deciding how and how often you will track student goals really depends on you and your students.  Typically I check student goals every other week.  Higher risk students are checked more frequently - maybe even once or twice a week - to be sure they are progressing toward their goal. 

The important thing to remember is that, although each student may be working toward the same goal (increasing number of sight words read) that can (AND SHOULD!) look different for each kiddo.  A struggling reader may focus on having the goal of increasing only two or three words over the quarter, while another may increase by 12.  It's important to make the goals challenging - yet attainable - for each student in your class.  Otherwise, students will not reach goals and their motivation to learn will suffer. 

I use my student goal tracking forms to set goals with my students.  They are very teacher and kid friendly!

To look at these forms just click on the picture below!

If you want to have a place in your classroom to track student goals and celebrate as a whole class, here are some things to consider.  Do you want student data and information to be displayed?  Do you want each student's goal to be displayed?  I personally don't like having individual student goals available for everyone.  That should be kept private and be a conversation between teacher, student and family.  I do, however, like to give students a way to see how their friends are progressing on their goals.  Students are great motivators for each other and it's an opportunity to teach children about supporting one another.  

In our early childhood classrooms, our teachers have done a FABULOUS job of making student goals exciting for their young students.  

This teacher has a space theme.  When students make their goal their picture is placed on Earth.  When they are halfway to their goal, they are in a rocket.  And when they meet their goal they land on the moon!  All students are working on the same standard (i.e. counting) but each student has an individualized goal to work toward so they can be successful. 

This teacher did the same concept with superheroes.  When a student sets their goal their picture is place on the board.  When they are halfway to their goal, they earn a superhero mask.  When they meet their goal, they earn a cape!  She even lets students wear a special cape in the classroom when their goal is met.  How fun?!

Breaking down larger goals in smaller tangible goals for students can prevent them from feeling overwhelmed and like they may never get there.  This teacher took the long term objective 'counts' and broke it down into it's precursors.  There are descriptions under each section that explain what a student must demonstrate to be considered meeting and a student places their marker or symbol underneath.  The goal is for students to visually see themselves progress across the standard toward the big goal.  

When students or your class reach a goal - CELEBRATE!!!  Have a class party!  Brag on your students!

I love bragging on exactly what students worked hard to learn.  Crowns or stamps that state "I know my letters!" are great ways to celebrate successes while communicating it with parents!

Whatever you do to celebrate, get your kiddos involved!   They worked hard!  :)

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