Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Developing Ownership: New Goals for a New Year

This year is off to a terrific start.  I have a fabulous class.  Well, I thought I had a fabulous class until my brother stopped by my classroom for a visit and my students were certain - way too certain - he was younger than I.  For the record he is, but I would have liked for them to have to think about it a bit longer.  Seriously, they are such a hard working group.  They absolutely love books so I'm pretty sure we are going to get along quite nicely.

This summer I spent a good part of my time reading professional books, having conversations on Twitter about education, and trying to update and improve my practice.  A few weeks ago, Laura Komos at Our Camp Read-A-Lot posted her goals for the coming school year.  I was inspired to do the same, but found myself talking more about my goals to continue my professional learning.  I would be remiss to not talk about my goals for student learning as well.

Though I have been teaching for several years (I can't say how many as I'm still recovering from my class's declaration that I am obviously older than my brother), I have goals for our classroom community in this new learning year.  These are changes I know I want to make to support students in owning their learning.

Classroom Goals

  1. Learn New Curriculum:  Learn and use Ohio's new model curriculums for Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Math in daily instruction.  
  2. Math Workshop:  For the last few years, I've been trying to move toward using a math workshop which allows me to start with a focus lesson, have students work toward math goals during an independent learning time in which I confer and meet with small groups, and then finishing with a share.  This instructional framework will allow students to have ownership of their learning and provide opportunities for differentiation.  
  3. Improve conferring in Reader's Workshop:  This summer I participated in a conversation about Patrick Allen's book, Conferring:  The Cornerstone of Reader's Workshop.  For me, it has always been easier to confer in Writer's Workshop.  It seems the conversations are usually grounded in the writing students are doing.  Writing conversations seem to naturally end in a plan or some type of teaching point that moves the writer forward.  However, I find conferring much harder in reading.  Reading Patrick's book I realized there needs to be a clear "plan" at the end of our conversation to help students continue to move forward.  
  4. Improve Student Learning Conversations:  I want to improve the conversations I have with young learners, but I also want those conversations to carry into the conversations students have with each other.  My hope is to find a way to help young learners learn to provide feedback to one another.  Yes, I know that sounds a bit too "teacher-ish".  In our classroom students set their own goals for much of their learning.  These goals are based upon their learning, concepts being studied, and assessments given.  When conferring with students we often reflect upon these goals and look for evidence of improvement in their work (reading, writing, math, etc.).  This year, I want the conversations we are having in our share circle and the conversations students are having with each other to reflect the learning we are doing in a way that helps to move us forward.  
  5. Seamless Use of Technology:  For me, last year was the first time I wasn't asking what I could do with technology.  Instead it seemed I was thinking about our learning and finding that technology often was the perfect way to create, compose, and share our learning.  (Yes, Deb, this includes VoiceThread.)  For the first time, technology seemed to be more like any other tool we use in our classroom to learn.  This year, I want to continue to have students discover ways to use technology as a part of their learning.  Here are a few links that speak my technology journey:
It's going to be a great year.  I'm looking forward to all I will learn in this new community.


  1. Your goal of improving student learning conversations has me thinking and reflecting...Great post. You have a very lucky group of students!

  2. You are such an inspiration! Really enjoying reading through your years on here.