I’ve been using a new textbook this year that sets a high standard with the rigor of its text and tests. Each week, my students take a test over the skills and vocabulary they have been learning. So far, they’re not doing very well on these tests.
In an effort to improve their scores, I recently worked with them to examine their data and set a goal for future test scores. To introduce it, I explained my approach to goal setting. I’m a runner (a SLOW runner!) so I shared my goals with them. I also shared my action plan to meet those goals. The students were very excited to set their own goals and action plans after hearing about mine.
We also discussed making the goal realistic. If they are currently getting 30% on their tests, setting a goal to get 90% is probably not going to happen overnight. Using my running as an example, I pointed out that setting a goal to take 2 minutes off my mile in a month is just not realistic. Nice if it happens, but not likely. This seemed to make them feel better about the idea of setting a goal.
Then we discussed reasonable action steps to plan. I asked them to mark just one or two of the steps suggested. I also pointed out that completing all of their assignments and studying for spelling tests would not only help their test scores, but help their grade. (You’d think they could see that themselves, but they are sixth graders, after all!)
The action steps I suggested were designed to help them increase their reading comprehension skills and their word analysis skills. These are the two areas the class, as a whole, struggle with. Utilizing these steps will help them overall with their reading and word skills. Since the tests don’t cover specific content, but instead skills, these are steps that should help them overall.
I am very encouraged by the response I’ve had from this process. Many of the students immediately put their steps into action and were quite proud of themselves. As we’ve gone along, I’ve been sharing my successes and frustrations in running. They love hearing how I didn’t want to get out and run, but I had made a pledge, so I did. Sharing my work has been helpful in encouraging them to work towards their goals.
I also asked them to have their parent sign the goal sheet. After explaining that this is not a case of “get them in trouble”, but more a need to keep their parents involved in their learning. The parents have been very receptive, as well. Many have written notes on the page sharing how they will help their child reach the goal.
When they take their next weekly test, we’ll graph the results and celebrate anyone who reached their goal. My plan is to give them a “goaled star” – get it? Gold/goaled! I crack me up!
How do you help your students improve?