Betsy's post was like an A-HA moment for me.
I'm no stranger to student goal setting, but setting goals in writing has always been a fuzzy activity for me. What constitutes "good" writing? When students look at their own work, will they be able to identify their deficits? Their strengths? How can we move past the "capitalize letters" and "write neatly" goals to the more 5th grade appropriate "stretch out the important parts" and "use dialogue to move the story forward"?
But after reading Betsy's post, I was able to work through goal setting with my student writers. We looked at an example of strong 5th grade writing from Lucy Caulkin's Writing Pathways book and identified what worked in the piece. Then we looked at our own writing to see how it compared. From there, my students set goals for themselves for their next narrative piece.
What was the biggest "A-HA" for me from Betsy's post was her idea of dedicating the final few minutes of writing time to have students go back in their writing and focus only on their goal. If their goal was to mix up their sentence structure, they had the time to make sure that was happening. If they didn't see evidence of their goal, they added it right then and there.
Too often, I find that I get so caught up in the setting of the goal that I forget to allow time for my students to actually work on that goal. It's like I expect the achievement to magically happen! A few minutes of writing time dedicated to making those goals come to fruition is well worth it. It will result in my students becoming more accomplished writers and will make goal setting actually mean something.