Why Students Should Be Setting Reading Goals

Setting Reading Goals is vital to reading success for our kids.  And it’s
not just about using the district grade level benchmarks as a guide and
praying your kids can be “on grade level” by the end of the year.

When I first started teaching, I knew all the quarterly benchmarks and
expectations for my first graders.  I studied them.  I could spout
them off to anyone who would listen.  But I never even mentioned it to
the kids I was teaching.

Why?  Because I didn’t think they needed to be bothered with all of
that.  

Instead, I kept teaching and doing small group interventions as my first
graders worked to meet the (secret) goals I had set for them.

And somewhere during that first year, I decided that was for the birds. 
It was time to get some help on reading goal setting…

…from the 6 and 7 year olds in my class!

Yep.  I was actually going to let my first graders be active participants
in
setting reading goals.

And the change was POWERFUL!

Knowledge Is Power

Knowing is the first step.

Knowledge is power.

Know better. Do better.

It was this idea that propelled me into letting my first graders in on the
reading goal setting process.

And what I found was POWERFUL.  Kids THRIVE on knowing
expectations.  

Like most humans, working aimlessly is not motivating.  But just the
simple shift of having a goal in mind gives us internal motivation–something
to work for!

We start setting reading goals by telling kids what the end of quarter
expectation is.  We do this as a whole class.  We talk about our
plans for meeting those expectations.  We will do our best work during
independent time.  Mrs. Shaddock will do her best to plan lessons and
small group interventions to help them grow.  They will listen and give
their best attitude and effort during intervention time.

And we talk about how many kids are below that expectation now because it’s
not the end of the quarter yet.  That’s okay… it just means we have
work to do.  

We also talk about how some kids are already at or above that expectation, but
that is not a reason to not work.  We will also set reasonable goals for them
to continue working towards.

When it’s time for me to individually assess each kid, I discuss how well they
did after I assess them.  We color in their
thermometer
to where they are at and identify the end of quarter goal OR what their
individual goal should be and star or circle that goal.

When we made the switch from guided reading to Science of Reading aligned
skill groups, these thermometers got a makeover and became even more a part of
the goal setting process.  Because now our goals were backed by science!
🙂

Student Ownership Is Key

Knowledge is power, but that’s not all of it.  Students have to buy in
and own their own learning. 

It’s not enough for me to just tell them what their goal should be.  It’s
important for me to ask the kids.  And put it on them.  

So, after assessing and coloring in their current level, I look at the kid and
say, “You are reading words with blends really well!  By the end of the
quarter, you should at least be reading CVCe words well too.  What do you
think your goal should be for the first quarter?”

Most kids answer with the quarterly goal.  Some kids go a little
higher… and that’s okay!  A few kids will just point to the top of the
thermometer and say that’s their goal.  And so we have to talk about what
“reasonable goals” are and I may need to guide them a little more.

But the idea is the same.  Help them feel a part of it.  And like
this is their goal and their reading progress.  The more they feel in
charge, the more pride they will feel in their work and the effort they will
give.  And that helps everybody! 🙂

Once we agree on our goal, we fill out
the goal sheet
together.  (We will color in the correct face when I assess them the next
time before moving on to our new goals!)

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

Once the goals are set, we are ready to get to work!  It’s as cheesy as
can be… but it’s also true.  Teamwork really does make the dreamwork!

Your kids need you and your best interventions.  And you need their buy
in and effort.  Setting reading goals TOGETHER helps encourage all of
these things and puts the focus on teamwork.

As one of my friends says a lot, “Everything is better in teams.”

So, if you haven’t given your kids a chance to set their own reading goals and
be active participants in goal setting, this can be the year!  You can
find all of
these goal setting sheets and thermometers that I use for K-2 here
if you need an easy way to get started!

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