Setting Writing Goals

I get so many questions about how I set individual goals with 5 year olds (when they are not so independent yet).  So I thought I'd show a quick little tutorial on the process I use that works well for me. I just started goal setting today with some of my writers that need the most support, and here is what it looks like.

1. Assess students' independent writing.
The first and second week of school we took independent writing samples from our kindergartners in each genre (narrative, information, and opinion) based on the common core.  These writing samples were taken with very little direction; simply "write a narrative piece with beginning middle and end." There was absolutely no help from the teacher.

2. Score writing on a rubric with grade level team.
We use the rubrics in Lucy Calkins New Units of Study. I love that these are grade level specific expectations along a continuum so we can really see where kids fall. Also a big reality check for how much most of our students need to learn as a majority were scoring minimal and basic with a small handful scoring close to proficient. I'm not too worried though because we have plenty of time to get there!

3. Look at goals from VOICES menu that may be appropriate for groups of students.
I use the goal cards from the writing menu that I created based on the rubrics to choose the goals that might work for at least a handful of kids based on the assessments/rubrics. You can find it here.

4. Pull students individually to look at writing and choose from 2 or more goals.
I pull out the writing sample I took and read it back to the student then give them a choice of 2 or more goals.  For now I chose 2 that would work for about half of my kids, and 2 that would work for some of my more capable writers. Here is an example of one of my students needing a lot of support.
(sorry its upside down, this is from my view as I show the cards to the student, as you can see both choices would be good goals for this child)

5. Students complete their goal sheet while I pull the next student.
The student selects which one they would like to work on and then writes it on their goal sheet by copying for now.
 I then begin to confer with the next student while they finish writing their goal.

The goal setting sheets that we use in our district also have a spot for the students to add how they will show their evidence of learning and their learning plan.  I will post more about those parts soon.  but this is about all they can handle in their first goal setting conference so we stop here for now.  

After setting goals with all my students I have my writing strategy groups and I know my focus each time I confer with a child.  I am always amazed at how good students are at picking a good goal for themselves.  Of course it is guided so that I don't have 22 different goals at the same time, but still I rarely have to point out why a particular goal might be a better choice for them.  

These personalized goals really make learning more meaningful to students because they feel ownership in what they are working towards and it is specific to their needs.  making even the youngest student a part of goal setting has been a powerful tool in accelerating learning and increasing motivation/engagement in my classroom! I cant wait to post pictures of our first reading and math goal setting conferences soon :)


  1. We use Lucy as well in my district. Do you develop a different beginning of the year rubric? Just curious. I am a WI teacher as well:-) Would you be willing to share your district goal setting sheet? Or is it in your pack? I am always looking for how others have used Lucy.

    1. We use the rubrics included in the new Lucy Calkins books right away at the beginning of the year. I have simplified the wording in the rubric for my kindergarten students for my VOICES goal cards. I posted the goal setting sheets I use in my post here:
      You can get them in Google Docs there.

      Good Luck!


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