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Setting Goals With Students

As a writer, I am always thinking about ways I can strengthen my work. In classrooms, I try to shift the ownership of learning toward the students, and one of the ways I do this is by talking to students about what they are working on as writers–what their goals are. It’s an important shift as it heightens my focus to teach students to become writers as opposed to showing them how to better a specific piece.

Recently, I got to work with kindergarten to fifth-grade teachers, and we talked about the importance of goal-setting. Searching for a short video or two, I came across one of a puppy learning to climb a wall! These two puppies showed so many characteristics of the learning process. If you do take the time to watch it, think about the encouragement, the nudge, the refusal to accept help, the adjustment of the task, and even the fact that sometimes we have to reevaluate what we think we’ve already mastered.

I have had a chance to use this video with fourth-grade students, and I have asked them to think about what helps when we are trying to accomplish a goal and what gets in the way. This video inspires some great insights, especially when viewed a few times. (Because it’s less than 40 seconds long, multiple viewings are easy.) The students not only love it, but they also recognize some important concepts!

I have created charts about goals that look like this, although please feel free to tweak them. The one with just the bullseye is one I’d use for younger students, while the one on the left is one I’ve used with older students. When I used the video, I left the T-chart empty, and we filled it in together as part of the lesson. I also left the bottom blank, and I had students talk in partnerships about the steps involved in setting goals. The level of conversations and debate was impressive.

Teaching these concepts as an inquiry took longer than the traditional ten minutes of a minilesson, and it could be shortened by just presenting the information to students. That being said, I definitely felt like it was time well spent. Once we teach students about goals and the importance of them in our lives, we can use the accompanying language in not only their writing lives but also in all aspects of their, and our own, learning.

Melanie Meehan View All

I am the Writing and Social Studies Coordinator in Simsbury, CT, and I love what I do. I get to write and inspire others to write! Additionally, I am the mom to four fabulous daughters and the wife of a great husband.

8 thoughts on “Setting Goals With Students Leave a comment

  1. You seem like an awesome teacher 🙂 Those charts really bring back some haunting memories of elementary school…I shudder to remember those long, boring lessons about how to count to ten. It’s nice to hear than you’re actually involving your students in discussion!

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  2. I wish you were my 5th grade teacher. If so I wouldn’t have failed that year and had to repeat 5th grade again. I had the worse teacher ever in 5th grade.. When I did 5th grade again had a great teacher who till this day I never forgot.. Teachers can effect a persons entire life!!

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  3. What perfect timing! 🙂 I am a fourth grade teacher myself and today our writing lesson is focusing on goal setting and taking charge of our own writing life! I will be incorporating both the video and your t-chart in today’s lesson! THANK YOU! Looking forward to today’s lesson!

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  4. Melanie, I love so many parts of this . . .
    1) “It’s an important shift as it heightens my focus to teach students to become writers as opposed to showing them how to better a specific piece.” The WHY this is important!
    2) A video example the students can relate to. What it looks like in real life.
    3) Actual inquiry and acknowledging “the trouble” . . . “Teaching these concepts as an inquiry took longer than the traditional ten minutes of a minilesson, and it could be shortened by just presenting the information to students. That being said, I definitely felt like it was time well spent.” – How will students KNOW that “doing the work is important if they don’t DO the work?

    BRAVO!

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  5. Melanie, thank you so much for this blog post and the video clip. I have been talking to my kids about setting goals and achieving growth by working hard on goals but this makes it much more visual. I’m going to use it for a mini lesson with my first graders today!

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