I’ve had the opportunity to teach a few writing lessons with my 6th graders over the past several weeks. All of the lessons have been fairly short, but I have really enjoyed teaching them. The first one I had the chance to do was on goals. Every student set an academic goal for themselves in the fall, these were shared with parents at conferences. They identified a goal, as well as things they needed to do to help them reach their goal, how they would know and two things that would help them stick to their goal. I had the students return to those goals and reflect on their progress. I wanted them to write about whether or not they had reached their goal. If they hadn’t, did they need to modify it? Was it an attainable goal? Did they need to identify additional ways to stick with their goal? This type of reflection didn’t come easy to most students, but I think it can be a powerful exercise in thinking about your own learning and used as a way to promote ownership.
The next day, I let students know that we would all be setting new goals. This time students could choose an academic goal or a personal goal. I planned to model my own goal setting and let them choose if I they wanted me to write a personal or academic goal for myself. Not surprisingly, they all wanted me to model a personal goal. I asked the class for help with my own goal and to share ideas of how I could stick to it, they were eager to help me out! Every student set at least one new goal, and many students chose to set both a personal and academic goal. Many of the students set goals in the subject areas that they struggle in.
These goal sheets are printed on heavy card-stock and students keep them in their binders. I have seen students referring to their goal sheets on several occasions. I thought this activity was great because my students were engaged, we got to know each other better and it gave students a chance to reflect on their own learning and behavior. As the year goes on and my students are looking ahead to middle school, this ownership and ability to reflect is something I want to continue supporting.