This lesson is done at the beginning of the year, after students have begun to read independently and preferably after you have met with students individually to talk to them about their current reading ability.
I tell students that this is a new year and sometimes, when we start new things, we create goals to work towards. I say, "Today we are going to make goals for the new year in reading."
I ask students to think about ways they can get better at reading and share their examples out loud. I write their examples on the board.
Some examples might be:
- improve stamina or read for longer amounts of time
- finish reading more books.
- learn more vocabulary
- become more fluent
- feel comfortable reading out loud
- move up a level (if students are reading leveled books based on their reading skill or it can be "read more difficult books")
- read different types of books
- enjoy reading
Because many students said, "enjoy reading" as a goal they wanted to accomplish, I chose this one as my class example.
I show students the acrynonm SMART and what each letter means.
S means specific refering to why we want to accomplish the goal and what we are going to do to accomplish it.
M means measureable referring to how we will know we have accomplished the goal.
A means achieveable referring to whether or not the goal is right for the student.
R means realistic referring to whether or not students can actually achieve it in the time they set for themselves or the time we have in the school year.
T means timely referring to a specific time frame that the student will work on the goal and at the end of that time students will be able to say they have or have not accomplished the goal.
I tell me students that in order for a goal to be something we work towards it needs to have all of these parts. I ask them to pick a big goal for themselves and after they do we will work on developing it together.
The big goal we pick for the class is "Enjoy Reading".
I go through each part of the acronymn and solicit ideas from the class. I then give them time to work on their goal.
In order to reach the goal of enjoying reading by the end of fourth grade we need to address each part of the SMART goal.
Specific: I ask students to look at their goal and add something to it that describes why they want to work on that goal and what action they are going to take in order to accomplish it.
Measureable: I ask the students to explain how I or anyone else will know they are working towards the goal. What would someone see you doing if you were working towards the goal.
Achievable: I ask the students to assess whether or not this is a right goal for them? Might there be a smaller goal such as reading more often or reading for more minutes in the books they currently like before they can branch off to new genres?
Realistic: I ask the students if they can be specific about any ways to get resources or information in order to accomplish the goals.
Timely: I ask students to add a date to check in on their goal. What are the stopping points that show they are making progress?
I give them time to revise or rework parts that they didn't have time for while we worked on it as a class.
After students have written their goals, I give them a checklist that helps them check whether or not their goal is complete.
This is also a tool for them to be self-reflective and for me to assess whether or not they understand the task and each part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Finally, once students have completed the checklist and written their goals, I ask if anyone wants to share their goal outloud. I do not force anyone because goals are sometimes private and revealing of areas that students need to work on. However, students who do share can also make other students feel more comfortable about their goals if they know that other students work on similar goals as well.