#SOL17: Goals and Technique Cards Reprise


I’m still reeling from the information on goals in Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris’s post about the 1% of the population that set goals and regularly review them. It’s a short post. Go read it here. The numbers are staggering and the consequences for learning are dire if teachers are NOT setting goals in their classrooms.

Let’s Review:  How important are clear learning targets for students?

Hattie, Fisher and Frey say that their effect size is .75 for “Teacher Clarity”. Teacher clarity could easily transfer to deeper student understanding of the desired learning target. Clarity in knowing what the target looks like would make the target  easier to meet..

What kind of goals should teachers be setting for writing instruction?

“Teach the writer,  not the writing.

Teach strategies for elaboration and development.

Teach for transfer.

Teach for increased student independence.”

What could goal setting look like?

One way it could go is through the use of the goal and technique cards from this post. As a writer I could pull out the techniques that I have already taught for the writing types this year.  I could list them in descending order by the frequency with which students are using the techniques.  Then I could check the on-demand writing for the new unit and see which techniques are present. This is one example of using data to determine goals.

Another way it could go would be to set up an inquiry study.  Students could have the technique cards and could self-assess their use and / or understanding of the writing techniques.  Then these students could use the goal cards to set some writing goals for themselves.  Maybe the goals will be about structure, development OR transfer!  Maybe students can begin to be “better than the 1%” if they have:



and time

to practice using the techniques

and goal-setting to improve writing across the text types.

Win/Win in Student Goal-Setting and Teacher Clarity!



Are goals for the day, month, or year?

Won’t there be a variety of goals and time lines?  Perhaps there will be an over arching goal that all students will love to write that will have its own steps or mini-goals. Perhaps it will be to improve the quality of the students’ narrative writing during this unit. Perhaps it will be the goals for this week.  But without clear goals . . .  what learning path are you on?

How could you use the techniques cards, goal cards and teacher clarity of work to improve your own writing and/or student writing?

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


13 responses

  1. I am better and better about making my own goal setting clear to my students. It is my hope that by showing that I make goals, check progress, and reflect, it will help the students to see that real people make goals. My third graders set writing goals today as we are near the start of an opinion unit.

    1. Erika,
      I think that New Years’ Resolutions and goal setting have really been counterproductive in the past as many folks tried to set life-changing goals that are lucky to last a week. What about the goals in front of ourselves? Daily? Or unit goals? How can setting smaller, more purpose-driven goals help us be more successful? Just some of my wonderings for 2017!

  2. It’s a mindshift for so many teachers, as it involves letting go even more so that students can grapple with their own goals. We’re working on it, and the goals and techniques cards are great resources. Even the younger students can use them if you pare them down and limit the choices.

    Great post, Fran. I’m printing it out. Thank you!

    1. Melanie,
      I’m always amazed by the “talk” that we want to create independent thinkers, readers, and writers but yet so many practices are counter-productive and often create more dependence.

      The students have to have voice or “skin” in the game. We have to start the thinking, problem-solving, and goal-setting processes much earlier! ❤

  3. Goal setting is the key to so much. I work with my gifted kids on this all the time. Their minds are all over the place. If you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? Great post.

    1. Thanks, Kimberly.
      I think sometimes we use some words so quickly and almost inter-changeably that our students don’t see the “thinking equity” that has taken place. Different levels of goals or intentions can help aid this conversation and perhaps help more students fit more capably into the drivers seat!

  4. I have always found that setting goals, both long term and short term, helped my students know where we were headed. The goals also helped be stay on tract and held me accountable for what was taking place in my classroom. When we worked on goals together, wow, things really took off. Great post, Fran.

    1. There are just SOOOOO many ways that we can consider harnessing the benefit of specific, attainable and measurable goals. I think a combination of #OLW, some data-based goals and some other ‘Qualitative’ measures may provide the information that really keeps students and teachers focused on the prize – Students who love to read and write and who DO read and write a lot!!!

  5. We set new goals every marking period with reading and writing conferences, and by “we” I mean my students and myself. I think goal setting should be a habitual thing – the goal line is always shifting and morphing, and we need to adjust our vision of what can be done and why.

    1. Tara,
      I love that “the goal line is always shifting and morphing”, I agree that goal setting should be habitual. I’m not sure that it’s been routinized in classrooms for every marking period, but I think that is a perfect goal for teachers and students everywhere. Thanks so much for reading and adding your thoughts! ❤

  6. I have been reading a lot of Hattie’s work and it has really got me thinking…just like this post. I know goal setting is a weakness of mine. Many times, we set goals; we just don’t follow through with them. Thank you for charging up my thinking battery tonight!

    1. Leigh Anne,
      The good thing is that there are so many ways to set goals and starting with smaller, shorter goals seems to be doable. So many factors to consider and i loved one post that I read that said “do the drafting of your goal for three minutes max. Set a timer. Stop. Let it sit. Come back to it later.”

      Sometimes our quest for a “perfect plan” or goal my be one of our biggest roadblocks!

  7. […] Goal Setting – my blog post […]

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