For several years, my colleagues and I have tried various ways to help our students to set and track academic goals. Most often these goals surround the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test because it is the most frequent test that is given for our students. There are also a wide variety of resources available for teachers (ala the Learning Continuum) to help find materials and resources to support students who are struggling in any specific areas of the test.
Since moving down to 3rd grade, I have definitely discovered that they are not fourth and fifth graders. For one thing, they aren't quite as mature and for another, most of them have never been asked to set goals before. (I even asked my colleague who went to 4th when I came down to 3rd and she said it was definitely easier to do this with 4th graders in her opinion.)
At any rate, since last year was my first time in 3rd grade, I didn't do some things I would have done if I had stayed in 4th where I knew the curriculum very well. I spent the majority of the year focusing on learning a new curriculum and managing a very large class. But this year, since I have a much smaller and better behaved group, I have been able to up my game again and push myself to help them to be the best they can be.
This includes our Power of Yet poster to foster growth mindset to getting back to helping student to set and work toward goals. I feel this is so incredibly important for the students I work with because many of them will be first generation college students. If they can learn to set and execute a goal starting in 3rd grade, they will be better off in middle and high school.
A fabulous colleague of mine showed me this cute file by Teacher Karma called the Smile Folder. I absolutely love the kids' smiles and I had to download this file and make my folders. Super cute! I just want to smile every time I see these little faces.
I started by making a copy of the cover for each student. I also typed out the SMILE acronym onto smaller strips that I could glue onto the folders as a reminder. I used colored manila folders, drew a design on them for hte information I wanted to include and then laminated them. I write on them with a Vis-A-Vis marker so that they can be erased and reused.
Sorry for the reflection. Aren't they adorable?
This folder is from one of my highest achieving students. You can see that I wrote the student's spring score (from 2nd grade) in black. The current score is in blue. It is very normal for the students to have a big slide back from 2nd to 3rd grade because our district has students taking the primary test from K-2. So in 3rd grade, the test no longer reads to them which can throw them off at the beginning of the year. Our school goal is to have students meeting at least the 60th percentile on the MAP because studies have shown that if they are at or above that range, they are more likely to pass the state standardized test.
I wrote the test information in for the students and then they made a short-term goal for the winter test. We revisit these every couple of weeks to help students remember their goal and discuss how we can ensure we will meet that goal (for math that might be practicing math facts or practicing word problems).
This is the same student as above, the other side of the folder. You can see that in reading, she stayed in the same place, but with a slightly lower number. At the bottom of this page is also their reading tracker. I am using a running record intervention program this year and this is how the kiddos are tracking their reading. I do not ask my students to read books only within that level but for the running records, we are keeping track of the level they are at. (I will write a blog post about the interventions very soon.)
This is a different student's folder. You can see the student was very high achieving at the end of 2nd grade (the black) and had a huge backslide (the red) for the beginning of 3rd grade. Again, this is actually fairly normal...I saw it last year as well because they are so used to having the reading support and once it disappears a lot of the students panic or they don't read carefully and thus they go backward a lot. (Personally I like to consider the fall of 3rd grade data to be "dirty data" because I really do not believe it reflects well their ability....by January when they are used to taking some tests on the computer -- as they take their weekly reading tests on the computer -- they tend to do much better with the MAP and those scores are usually much more reflective of what they are able to do.)
This student was much more stable in reading scores than in math. She stayed within the same band and actually went up a few percentiles over the spring. It doesn't happen very often but sometimes they do come in with a higher score than they had in the previous spring. This student is in a much lower reading level than the student above and we will track their progress in the same way. Any students who are not at "benchmark" are doing two intervention cycles with me a month so much more tracking comparing to students who are benchmark or above and are only doing one cycle a month (again more on that in a future blog post).
I absolutely love this system. First it is very easy for my 3rd graders to follow and track their own goals. Second because I can add their new scores when we get them and the students can track their progress over time (in January/early Feb when we take the next test, their scores will be recorded in green so they can tell which is which).
Stay tuned for more information about the reading intervention running records I am utilizing.