The beginning of the school year is a great time to hit reset in your classroom. Although winter break was only a couple of weeks and not a couple of months, chances are that your students could use a chance to reflect on your classroom goals and expectations for your class as a reading community as well as a chance to identify and set goals and expectations of their own.
In this blog post we will tackle setting goals around your reading block for yourself, your class and your individual students.
This is a great time of year to think about what you may want to improve on in the area of reading instruction and create a plan to do this. For example, maybe your mini lesson wasn’t so mini first semester, maybe even though you planned your lessons in advance you felt like you rambled and the students lost interest or maybe you had really wanted to include a read aloud in your reading block first semester but that idea went by the wayside fast with all the demands of virtual teaching.
Choose one thing or area that you would like to work on, yes one thing. Although you may have more than one it is not realistic to try to tackle all the things at once. Write down what success looks like for you in this area. Enlist some accountability, tell a friend of your goal and ask them to check in with you. Decide how often would be reasonable. Choose habits that will help you maintain your momentum and write an affirmation that you can say to yourself when you feel like quitting on your goal.
Reflect: I want to include read aloud with accountable talk in my read aloud
Success looks like: Including a read aloud 3x a week
Steps: Review read aloud PD. Choose a read aloud that I have already read.
Accountability: My teacher neighbor who has already incorporated read aloud with accountable talk with their class. We will check in each week to see what went well and what didn’t.
Goal: I will add a 15 minute read aloud with accountable talk lesson to my block
Habits: Plan my read aloud including think alouds and turn and talk opportunities two weeks at a time.
Affirmation: I am excited about sharing something new with my class.
For your class:
First reflect on the first semester. Grab a sheet of paper and ask yourself what went well and what could use improvement in regards to your reading block and independent reading time. Next brainstorm ideas about quick tweaks that can be made to anything that didn’t go well the first semester. This is not the time for an overhaul so don’t abandon everything you put into motion. It may be that students just need to revisit the expectations again or it could be that you just need to tweak your expectations in order to meet students where they are.
Option 1: You reflect and decide that your expectations are reasonable so you just review them with students and include time to model an example and a non example of what this looks like and feels like in your class.
Option 2: You reflect and decide your expectation is not reasonable because your mini lessons are running too long. You decide to re-communicate expectations and use a timer to help you keep your lessons short, clear and concise in order to maximize student engagement.
Next sit with your class and reflect on what they think could be improved in regards to your reading community. Do they need to practice reading for a longer period of time? Do they need to expand the number of books that they read as a class? Do they need to have more focused and engaged conversations as a group?
These are all great spring boards for a class goal. Pick one area as a class that you are going to focus on this month. What does success look like for them? Will there be a reward for reaching this goal if so what are they working towards? Chart your goal and post it in a prominent location.
Decide how often you will check in with your class to see how their progress towards this goal is going. Help your class choose habits that will help them maintain their momentum and write an affirmation that they can say to themselves when they feel like quitting on their goal.
Reflect: We get distracted during independent reading time
Success looks like: Reading the entire independent reading time without distraction and/or being able to use a strategy to get refocused
Steps: Discuss roadblocks to focus as a class. Create a chart with a list of class generated strategies for getting refocused.
Accountability: Check in at the end of each independent reading time and have students reflect on how it went form them that day. Discuss any road blocks revisit chart if needed.
Goal: To read the entire time during independent reading
Habits: Every time they lose focus they look at their chart and choose a refocus strategy and jump back into reading.
Affirmation: I can refocus my attention and keep reading.
For each individual student:
Students don’t make progress just because we want them to, they make progress because they want it too. There are two types of goals that you can set with students, classroom data driven goals and life of a reader goals.
A classroom data driven goal is based on their assessment data. You can use reading level assessments, formative assessments or benchmarks to set these goals. These goals are best set in conferring relationships as conferences lend themselves to one to one conversations that don’t involve sharing the goal with the entire class.
Life of a reader goals are goals that are universal to most readers i.e. creating a habit of reading while waiting for appointments, reading before bed, or reading a wide variety of books. These are goals that can be displayed and shared with the class.
First, set your own life of a reader goal so that you have one to model and share with your students. Reflect on your life as a reader and decide what you want to improve. What would success look like for you? What steps do you need to take to get started? Think about what habits you would need to adopt in order to make that happen. Choose an affirmation that you can repeat to yourself to keep you pursuing your goal. What accountability measures will you create for yourself? Share your reading goal, habits and affirmation with your class. Then help them create their own using the same steps outlined above.
Reflect: I am not reading as many books as I used to
Success looks like: Reading 20 books by Dec. 31st
Steps: Make a list of books that I would like to read to get me started.
Accountability: I will check in with my teacher at our designated time and let her know how my goal is going.
Goal: I want to read 20 books this year
Habits: Take a books with me wherever I go and read it whenever I have a spare moment
Affirmation: I am an avid reader.
We are on a quest to mold readers who know how to think so they can decide what they think for themselves. Reflection and goal setting will help us tweak our map on the way to this goal so that we don’t just end up throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something will stick.
Use these tips with your class and reach out to let me know how it goes and what goals you and your class are working towards. Reach to me on social to let me know how it works for you. If you are wanting a little extra support in explaining a goal, habit and affirmation to your students then grab my resource, Goal Setting for Readers, to help your students set their goals.