RM Winter 2016 FLIP

students’ goal sheets. These can be reviewed periodically to monitor progress, share progress, and ensure mastery.

add better word choice tomy writing.” The goals from the pre- assessment should be the same on the post-assessment. Review with the students,“What does it mean to find evidence to support your answer?”(e.g., when answering questions about a reading passage, evidence may be a sentence or example from the text). Next, using the revised piece of writing, use think-aloud strategies andmodel how to find evidence that shows progress toward the goal. For example,“I have a sentence in my writing (highlight the sentence) that shows I used better word choice. I underlined the boring word, ran, and used a thesaurus to find a better word. My improved sentence is, “My brother sprinted across the lawn to safety. I’ll write this sentence on the line under the rating box as evidence.” Then, choose a rating that shows how the goal was reflected in the final copy. Again, think aloud for students, “I think I did a better job with my word choice, but maybe I could have added even more vivid words. I will rate myself as a 4, because I think I still have room to improve.” Circle the 4 box on the goal sheet. After meeting as a group, the teacher should distribute the post-assessment goal sheets. Walk around to assist students as they rewrite their goals, find evidence in their writing, and rate their improvement level. This step may require additional conference time with some students. Final Copies and Post Assessment Goal Sheets At the end of the writing unit, students will turn in both goal sheets with the final copy of their writing. Teachers should refer to the goal sheets and provide specific written feedback on the post-assessment goal sheet for each student. This feedback should be shared during an individual conference and the teacher and student should discuss whether to continue with a goal or move on to a new goal for future writing assignments. When it’s time to begin the next writing unit, restart the process using new pre-assessment goal sheets. Instructional Considerations The steps outlined above can be adapted to fit the needs of any class or grade level. Below are some considerations for teachers interested in using goal setting during writing conferences: • Develop a system for taking notes during conferences. Having a specific procedure for record keeping will not only ensure conferences are held on a regular basis, but it will also allow for better use of instructional time. Conference logs can be used to record students’ explanations for writing, possible social influences for their choices, and other common themes found among the students (Kissel, 2008). Reviewing notes before conferences allow teachers to quickly review information from the last conference (what was discussed, what the student was working on, steps student was going to take going forward, and so on). Additionally, teachers should develop a system for archiving

• Be positive. It is important to provide positive and constructive feedback during conferences. While goal setting allows teachers and students to target specific areas of need, conferences should always begin on a positive note - with a positive comment. What is working with the student’s writing? What have they done well? What or where have they improved? Be specific, as this is a great opportunity for teachers to build the student’s confidence. • Be pragmatic. For students who struggle with writing and have many areas that need improvement, teachers need to provide support in identifying a high-impact skill that will lead to positive development across writing. For example, it is unnecessary to focus on indenting paragraphs if the student is unable to generate supporting details for the topic of a paragraph. In addition, while there are three spaces for goals, teachers should consider starting with just one goal and increasing the number as the student progresses and demonstrates improvement. throughout the development of a writing piece. In addition, there are times a student will start on a piece of writing and lose interest. It is important for teachers to allow students to make these decisions about their writing. Further, while the goal sheet may provide a starting point and structure for your conference, teachers need to remain open and responsive to the“teachable moments”that often present themselves during instruction. • Use the information from the conferences to make instructional decisions. Notes from conferences can provide data for planning future mini-lessons (Kissel, 2008). Teachers may ask themselves,“What patterns do I see? What goals are most common among students?”Analyzing the data is a great way to plan instruction in order to support students as they work toward their goals. Also, identifying patterns can lead to small group conferences. Small group conferences may be a more efficient use of instructional time, and they provide an environment where students may learn from each other. • Collect student examples. Look for strong examples (and non- examples) to share with students. These can be referred to during mini-lessons and used during conferences to develop ideas and strategies for students. Student examples have a strong influence because it shows students that someone just like them is capable of setting and meeting writing goals. Students learn a lot from each other and these examples may help them think about their writing in new ways. Sharing authentic examples also provides students the opportunity to share their success with classmates. This can be another way to boost student confidence and motivation. • Be patient. This process starts with a lot of teacher modeling, practice, and continuous feedback. Modeling is essential in helping students understand the complexity of writing. Students need to both see and hear the teacher as they model how they think and • Be flexible. Students move through the writing process at different rates. The writing process is not linear; many students revisit stages

Reading Matters Teaching Matters

Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 | scira.org | 31 |


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