In the first week of school, it’s important for students to understand that they are an important part of the classroom community. In these five lessons, students introduce themselves to the class and learn about each other. The lessons contain teacher created resources using graphics from Handwriting Fonts by Kevin and Amanda, Melonheadz Illustrating, and Creekside Teacher Tales.
I’m a big believer in setting goals. I’ve been doing it my whole life; at times, I’ve been successful in meeting my goals and others have been epic failures! I think it’s important to have an idea of where you’re going and a plan to get you there.
Each year I have students write and revise goals for themselves. I start this early and then revise or make new goals throughout the year. I want them to be responsible for their learning and realize that their own efforts play a huge part in being successful throughout the year.
I begin by asking students if they’ve ever mastered or become great at anything. Most of the time, this gets me nothing but quizzical looks. So I question a little more: Have you ever beat all the levels of a video game? Have you ever tried out for and made a sports team? Have you ever learned to play an instrument? By this time, I’m usually getting several raised hands. I call on a few to share. Then I ask, how were you able to do these things? Did you just wake up one day and find that you were able to do great things? Or did you set a goal for yourself and work hard until you achieved it? After some discussion, most students are able to see that they were successful by setting goals for themselves and working until they achieved them.
I explain that in order to be successful in school, we need to the same thing. We must be aware of ourselves and make specific plans for how we want to improve. I pass out a goal booklet and instruct students to write their names where it says, “_________________ at the beginning of the year.” I explain that the box on the first page is meant for them to draw a self portrait. This should represent who they are today. I then direct their attention to the first page, which is their reading goal page. I show them my own booklet with my reading goal. I explain that while I love to read and read all the time, I rarely read adult books just for me. Most of the books I read every day are children’s books or books about teaching. My reading goal for the year is to read more adult chapter books. I write this in a complete sentence on the page. I ask them to think about themselves as readers and how they would like to improve this year. I give several examples to get them thinking: maybe you don’t like reading at all - your goal could be to find at least one kind of book that you actually enjoy, maybe you read mainly picture books - your goal could be to start reading chapter books, maybe you read mostly realistic fiction books - your goal could be to read more fantasy, etc. I give them thinking time and ask them to write their reading goal in a complete sentence. Lastly, I show them the box at the bottom. I tell them that they will use this box to draw a picture of themselves meeting their goal. I want them to visualize what they will look like meeting their goal. This picture should be very detailed and show how they would feel once they are successful in this area.
When I see that most have finished, I show them how every page in the packet follows the same format. Students’ task for today is to complete their booklet in the same fashion. They can work next to a buddy and brainstorm ideas, however because these are personal goals, each student must complete his own booklet.
When all students are finished, I have them select one goal to share with the class. This helps them identify others in the room who will be working on similar tasks during the year. After sharing I collect the booklets, read through their answers, and use to make small groups or partners. I have them meet in their groups every so often throughout the year to talk about their goals and encourage each other. This is also another artifact I keep for their writing portfolios.