One of my own goals as a teacher of a non-English/ELA subject area was to incorporate MORE literacy within my lessons. It’s been a challenge (and thank the good Lord for literacy coaches) both with the students and colleagues. Students don’t believe that literacy is found within any other subject area than ELA and some colleagues believe that students should come to then as trained all knowing literacy puppies. It’s a skill that needs constant work in all subject areas. Students need to be instructed and given the opportunities to see the differences in writing within certain subject areas. I decided to start the process of improving student writing with semester goals.
Let’s start with the “Writing Goals for the Semester” folder and worksheet setup. I decided to get honest with my students and have them list their own writing goals. Using some of my old essays from college (cringe-worthy), I explained that we ALL have something that we can improve upon within our writing even, gasp, Honors students. One of my favorite sayings, “You are not perfect, despite what your mama may have told you” worked well in this situation. I gave them time to brainstorm as a table group and then we had a class discussion. Think about how many times you weren’t aware of an idea until someone else mentioned it! I told them that the brainstorm was a way to steal any writing goals from their peers. After the brainstorm, the students took a few minutes to frame their writing goals using the sentence starter “I would like to work on…”. Here are a few of the items that my amazing students came up with:
- “I want to work on a timeline to avoid procrastination”
- “I want to figure out a more creative way to introduce my topic”
- “I want to work on a more advanced vocabulary or terms to put into my essays”
- “I want to work on my peer editing skills”
Check out some of their goals:
As the semester progresses, students will be placing written pieces into their folders (I created an area in the back of the room to house the folders). Students were also given the option to digitize their work (with marks, peer edits, etc…) using our fancy school printer/scanners (this is a skill that they will need to be taught!) and create a digital folder in OneDrive in place of a paper folder.
At the end of the year, students will reflect back on their goals, identify the tools or strategies that helped them to achieve their goals, and then we will conference. During this conference, students will present pieces of written work that serve as evidence for their goals. At this time, students will set a few new goals for the next year. I hope that this inspires them to become self-aware of writing as a process and a means of setting goals to become better writers.
Download the worksheet HERE and use it in your own class to set writing goals for the year or semester. I would love to hear if you use this idea and how it works in your class!