Saturday, February 13, 2016

If You Goal Set With Students...Then They Will Want To...Write Their Own Assessments

While conducting a recent goal setting session with a small group of students, one of the students made the following comment:  "So, my writing goal can actually help me achieve my reading goal."  I am sure she was surprised at how thrilled I was with her "ah ha" moment.  As a result of consistent goal setting and monitoring, students are making the connections between disciplines.  Another student in the group added to the first child's comment by saying, "We are going to study historical documents during the unit, which means we are going to be practicing reading and writing." 

The process of goal setting requires time and preparation. I am starting a new ELA unit of study as my students have pre-assessed out of the regular unit of study. To prepare, I found a gifted unit that perfectly aligns with our current ELA VB learner objectives, as well as the social studies unit related to Virginia Documents.  I believe students need to understand the direction we are headed as well as know the learner objectives they are responsible for learning. Therefore, before we embark on the new unit, I want them to set at least one reading goal.  We will work on all the objectives during the unit, but each student will focus on one objective for their individual SMART goals.

I administered a literature pre-assessment from the William and Mary unit entitled, "Persuasion".  I then scored the pre-assessment using the given rubric.  I grouped the students by their scores (high, high-medium, low-medium, low).  I then created a SMART goal planning tool using the Schoology assignment tool.  I created a list of VB learner objectives that align with the new unit of study and added a digital copy to Schoology as well as made hardcopies.

I sat with the students in small groups to debrief the literature pre-assessment scores and set reading goals using the SMART goal framework.  We used a success-analysis approach, where I asked the students to first reflect on areas they received scores of 4 or above, according to the rubric.  Then students were asked to identify an area of need, compare that need to the list of VB learner objectives, and set a reading goal.  It was during this goal setting session that Phoebe had her "ah ha" moment. 

Two questions and considerations for our continued work with these SMART goals remain:
1.  Students expressed an interest in re-wording the learner objectives in kid-friendly language.  I believe this will also translate to them seeking to assist with the development of assessments.  I will have to build in time for this type of work.
2.  Students are working on efficient ways to monitor their goals.  They like the idea of using an app, Schoology, or Google docs, however, access to devices are not guaranteed on a daily basis at school.  Both the kids and I are afraid to save the data "in the cloud" at this point.  Students track their writing goals by using the 5th grade writing rubric as a post-writing checklist.  We wonder if a reading objective rubric would serve the same purpose?
3.  Students agreed that just by engaging in the goal setting process, they better understood the grade level expectations.  Several students stated they now better understood the differences between an AP level of proficiency and a P level.  We do acknowledge we need a way to keep the objectives visible throughout our work on this new unit.  I currently write learner targets on the board.  Perhaps instead, I should create a daily check-in for students to write their own objective targets?

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