If you have recently noticed chewed fingernails, teachers rubbing their neck, and the sound of "plop, plop, fizz, fizz . . ."., you know it must standardized test time. These type of tests have both pros and cons. Stress and anxiety are definitely listed in the cons column. Goal setting should be listed in the pro column. This is a skill that I teach, reteach, and enforce all year. Goal setting not only impacts test scores, it is a skill your students will use for the rest of their lives. When introducing the topic, remind students that they have already heard their parents set goals. Mom and dad call their goals, New Year's Resolutions. Ask them to think of a short term and long term goal for school and at home. Brainstorm with your class strategies for achieving their goal. Have a weekly goal check-in. Part of goal setting is learning to be reflective. What is working? What isn't working? What do I need to change? My students' short term school goals all revolved around raising their grades. For some it was a specific subject, for other students they wanted to make the honor roll. One of the strategies that we incorporated into our schedule was goal check-in. Fifteen minute before we began Friday Fun Day, I gave my students their weekly folders with their graded work. Students looked over their graded work. Any assignment that had a grade that was lower than what they set for their goal was set aside. Next, students put a post-it notes on the assignments in the below-goal stack of work. They looked over their work to see why their grade wasn't meeting their expectations. Sometimes it was something simple like rushing through work, adding instead of subtracting math problems, or writing was so sloppy I couldn't read it. Students drew a line across the middle of the post-it note. On the top half they wrote why their assignment didn't meet the goal. On the bottom half they wrote how they will correct the problem so it won't happen in future assignment. Some of their solutions were quite creative. There were some great solutions when students weren't understanding the assignments. Some students gave up recess time to come in for extra help. Others made a goal to use the website IXL for XXX number of minutes a day to help with math facts. I even had a couple of industrious ones meet at the public library after school to help each other. Parents loved how their children were taking ownership of their grades. They weren't having as many "discussions" about grades as they were before. When students finished their reflection post-its about their graded work, they brought their stack of work to me so we could have a quick conference about it. Students quickly learned fewer assignments to reflect about equals more Friday Fun Day time.
Speaking of goals . . . this month marks my first year on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each quarter I set goals for myself. In a year's time, I have uploaded 84 lessons to TPT and 31 of those lessons are FREE! Just like my students reflect on their work, I am continually reflecting my own. If you are a follower of my blog or my store you will get notice when some of my reflection has been put into action . . . in the form of revised lessons. If you previously purchased these units, you will get the new and improved version for FREE! Can you tell that is one of my favorite words?
Just like my students get assistance from their peers to help them reach their goals, I also have a group of teachers who have helped me reach my goals. For the next few weeks, at the end of my posts, I will be introducing you to some of my blogging buddies. This section will be called "Three Cheers" because that's what this group does for each other. We cheer each other on, brainstorm ideas, share tech tips, and in general we have become a V.R. (virtual reality) Faculty. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to some of the faculty members of my V.R. School . . . .
Heather a.k.a. HOJO lives in South Dakota where she is a horse and scrapbook fanatic. You'll have to check out her blog to find out what HOJO means. No, it has nothing to do with a chain of hotels. Her blog was recently named the top 25 Blogs for Educators by Education World. When Heather is not talking to her V.R. faculty members, she is a full-time teacher with experience teaching combined classroom of ELL students (2,3,4), Reading Recovery, Title I math & reading, 5th grade special education, and kindergarten. Her store has over 30 FREE (there's that word again!) items. Her top 3 selling items are: Multiple Meaning Word Cards, TH/SH/CH Picture Sort, and Long and Short Vowel Picture Sort. Hop over to her blog and see pictures of the newest 4-legged addition to her family. He has such beautiful eyes!
Every faculty has at least one person who is the "O-person". This person loves organizing people, things, and events. When they suggest something, most faculty member say "Oh! ya . . . we should probably do XYZ" which is why I call this person the "O" person. They are great at quietly working behind the scenes so that the rest of us can work more efficiently. "O" people are not looking for recognition, but I want to recognize our V.R. School's O-person. Our resident "O" is Robin @ Little Blogfish. Robin has been instrumental in streamlining our communication which is very important if you want a cohesive faculty, especially when your school is located in cyberspace! We now even have a faculty directory thanks to her. Robin is a former teacher who now homeschools her children and is an online continuing education instructor. Although Robin is quiet in nature, she is our resident party queen. I think she holds the distinction of hosting the most linky parties. When Robin is not organizing us, or hosting a party, she enjoys writing curriculum with a creative flair. Her current best seller is perfect for this time of year. It's called Spring Shapes Kite Glyph. Go check it out!
PHEW! You deserve a FREEBIE for reading such a long post!
Here is a happy note you can give your students when they reach their goal.