Friday, February 19, 2010

Goal Setting in Reader's and Writer's Workshop: Dublin Literacy Conference

In central Ohio there is a common language circulating among districts: The "I Can" Statement. I can statements are being added to course of study guides, classroom walls, and student work spaces. "I can get ideas for my writing." "I can write a story with a beginning, middle and end." "I can use periods at the end of my sentences." I can understand the thinking behind these statements. However, statements like these can lose their authenticity when they are prescribed by a course of study. Statements like these can lose their power when students are not the ones making them, but they are being posted on walls. Statements like these become overwhelming when they are written for every teeny tiny skill written in indicators, but not focused on bigger ideas of conceptual learning.

I can understand the thinking behind these statements. There is power in getting students to articulate their goals and work toward them. There is power in helping students to build an understanding of ideas in all subject areas. There is power in student ownership. In our classroom community, I find self-reflection, self-assessment, and goal setting to be a powerful way to shift learners. In our classroom talking about your strengths, your challenges, and setting your own goals is a part our learning across content areas.

Today at the 2010 Dublin Literacy Conference, Deb Frazier and I talked about the way we use self-assessment in our classroom to help our students have ownership in their learning. In our classrooms, students reflect on the key understandings we have been learning and write a goal for their learning. This goal shapes the instruction we plan for our whole class focus lessons, our small groups, and individual conferences. In our session, we shared the way we set goals with our students in our classrooms. We also discussed the way we use this information to plan our instruction across our workshops. Through student work samples we demonstrated the power goal setting provides in shifting students. Goal setting not only helps students to find purpose and direction in the work they do, but also gives them ownership of their learning. Thanks to everyone who attended our session.

I have attached a link to the powerpoint and documents we used.

Templates of the reading and writing goal sheets will be added 2/22/10


  1. What fun it was to work with you at dublit and of course everyday! You inspire me to push myself daily! My goal~ Keep listening to Cathy! Thanks!!

  2. Yahoo! I had another session at your time with Max about ELL students, it was a hard decision! I love your thoughts about the I Can craze sweeping central Ohio, which has it's place if thought through with ownership. Thanks for sharing your session.

  3. Cathy,
    Your thinking made me smile and think that my class's constant "I can" statement for reading all year has been "I can read with purpose and for meaning." I am pretty sure that covers about everything.
    Great to see you at the DLC.

  4. Ok, I tried emailing you and Deb from school, but our new system returned it. I loved you session and am looking to make those mats you talked about. I need a visual. Can you post a picture?

  5. Cathy,
    I went back to school and created a list with my students of the strategies we use as readers. I was amazed at all the things they thought of. (Yeah!!) Then, as you suggested, they marked each strategy as one that they do all the time, need some help with, and have a difficult time with. Most of the kids were aware of themselves as readers. Of course, I had a few who thought everything was easy! I know that I need to work with them on being more cognizant of their thinking. This week we start focusing on their own goals. I have flip-flopped my day so that the whole class is in the room for the entire literacy block. I can't wait to see the results. Thanks for always pushing me in my thinking. Julie

  6. This is an area I want to grow in! Being better at helping my students grow in setting and reaching goals!