Asking students to set goals without context just begs for fluffy, surface responses that students have no interest in looking at or thinking about ever again. But we all want to see our students setting concrete, challenging, and attainable goals. Setting the context makes all the difference; students will set great goals when given a solid set-up.
I tried something new at the end of this semester. I won’t know for sure if it works until June, but I can tell you that the energy I’m sensing from my students now is encouraging.
Let me explain. I was specifically inspired by chapters three and eight of Penny Kittle’s Book Love.
At the end of first semester, I asked my students to list out all of the books that they had read since the first day of school. I told them to include the books they had dropped, and write down how many pages they had read in the dropped books, then add that number to the total pages from the books they had finished. It was a nice moment when they realized how many pages they had each read during the semester. It’s worth celebrating – they need to acknowledge their accomplishments! As part of that celebration, we made a class poster with all of the titles of the books, and students’ individual page numbers. Then, we totaled the class page numbers and posted it all publicly.
After that we had a class discussion about what makes a book hard to read? We brainstormed together, discussed different qualifications, and ended up with a good list.
Next, I asked them to rank their books. They didn’t realize it, but they were creating their own personal book ladders. Then, they posted the list on their online readers notebooks (more on that in a later post).
I grabbed a screenshot from one of my students. I like how this student reflected on each book – it wasn’t something I required the students to do for this post, but he wanted to share some thinking. I really like what is said about Carrie – Stephen King is known for having somewhat weak endings, and this student picked up on it, even though it is the fist book by King he has read. Good on him.
I asked them to reflect on how they’ve grown as readers over the course of the semester. I’ll share some of those responses in a later post, but they were overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.
The next step was to do the ten-minute timed read that is described in chapter three of Book Love. Here’s what I instructed them to do: Continue reading “Celebrate and reflect, then use that momentum to set exciting goals”