Monday, December 03, 2012

Staring a New Trimester-Goal Setting in 4th Grade

This week seemed like a perfect time to set goals, revamp a few things and move forward in our workshop.  Our elementary schools works on trimesters so our first set of report cards went home this week and we are at the beginning of our second trimester.

My class is filled with readers. They read lots, talk about books, etc. But many seem stuck in a genre or series right now. This is typical and not necessarily a bad thing but I wanted to talk to kids about expanding their lives as readers. So we had a few conversations about ways readers can expand their reading lives a bit. My thinking was that we'd have the conversation and it would revolve around tastes as readers and it would get some kids thinking beyond the kinds of books they had been reading since August.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The kids definitely talked about tastes as readers and the need to find more authors and series they loved. But they also decided that finding one author or series and knowing it well was a way to expand your life as a reader. Then the conversation turned a bit and they started talking about the ways in which they think when they read. They decided that one way to grow your life as a reader was to change the ways you think while you read. They also talked about changing the habits of your reading life.  It was a fascinating conversation.

The next day, after kids did a quick write of their personal goals, they summarized a goal in a talking bubble that is posted in our room for the next several weeks. One thing I have learned as I started my life as a runner, was how important it was to make my goals public.  They seemed bigger once I did so I thought posting them in a semi-formal way made sense. (And the self-portraits make me happy:-)

We also formed reading groups based on goals.  We had groups set based on goals and kids chose the groups they thought met their goals. Then I looked at assessments and decided on some groups. I met individually with each student this week looking at the groups they had signed up for as well as the new ones I put together. I shared some general assessment information and the things I thought they could use some support with. Then together, we decided on a few groups and they signed up. These conversations were great and the kids were so smart about themselves.  It is always amazing to the kids that I have noticed what they are doing. I also love the conversations that happen after I meet with a child. Sometimes hours or days later, a child approaches me and says, "I was thinking about the groups I signed up for and I think I want to add one. I could really use help on finding evidence in the text to support my thinking. Can I sign up for that one too?".

So we are set for the next several weeks. We have great things in place and great places to go. I love the time of year when the conversations become honest because trust is part of it.


  1. I love the idea of forming groups based on the students personal goals, rather than the teacher's goals. I think our goals will be reached if we start with theirs.

  2. Terrific to hear your process, Franki, & the self-portraits are delightful! Persuading readers to try new genres is challenging, but I find that once you can get them to read one "other" book, & they love reading, then their thinking (& excitement) grows. Thanks for all this sharing.


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