One of the cornerstones of EL Education is authentic reflection and student-driven goal setting. Though this is extremely important work (and has lead to some of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had with my students), it is no easy task -- especially in the primary grades.
Encouraging students to be fully aware of where they’re at, reflect on their work, and then set goals for where they want to be, and discuss how they’re going to get there is the goal. One way that we do this in primary grades is have some sort of ongoing reflection and discussion surrounding where we are supposed to be a certain points of the year, compared to where each student is at. A specific way that we have done this in 1st grade this year in reading is making graphs! The student-made graph allows the students to visually grasp the data that we are talking about, which we then use to set goals for different points of the year, and share how we are going to get there. We also have a reading growth tracker in the classroom that tracks how much students have grown in reading. As the students move up in reading level, they get to move their flower up and watch it grow. Once again, being able to visually see the growth the students are making helps these first graders understand the data in a meaningful way.
Additionally, we want this work to be exciting, and when we reach our goals that we’ve set, we want to celebrate! In our crew, we have various modes of celebrating. We give each other cheers, we share compassionate words, or, my personal favorite, we throw dance parties (: This not only is a joyful perk of goal-setting, but it instills in students the crew mentality: we are all here to support each other, to challenge each other to do our best, and to celebrate with each other every step of the way.