Monday, September 23, 2013

Goal Cards for Students & Science Conferring

I started something new this year. I wanted to hold students more accountable for their own learning - so I created Goal Cards. Our Goal Cards are just a list of the "I Can" statements created from the COS Standards that I use while I am creating my lessons. When we start each new unit, I pass out these Goal Cards. We go over each goal to make sure that we understand exactly what we are learning. We talk about the importance of setting goals - (we even made an anchor chart at the beginning of the year) and we talk about how we can improve ourselves through goal-setting. There is also a space for students to create their own goals for science, as well as reflect upon their learning at the end of each unit.

Throughout the unit, I make sure that students know to go back to their goal cards to see how they're doing. Mid-way through our unit I *try* my best to meet with each student to check on them to see how they're coming along with their goals. (This is in addition to any other quick assessments that I am doing throughout the unit.) We go over their goal sheets while we confer and I take notes in a handy-dandy class notebook that I made specifically for mini conferences. I have 4 classes, so I needed a way to organize my notes in a way that is both easy for me to access AND easy for me to quickly see who I haven't met with. I print each class on pages that are side by side so that when I open the notebook, I can see who I've written notes for and who I still need to meet with without having to rummage through pages and pages of a binder. Each class is organized on a large grid and each student has a large space for me to write notes. I have about 9 students per page. It's working very well and I'm actually learning more about my students this year. I just printed it on regular paper and then used cardstock for a quick cover. I just bound it together using black plastic binding. It's going to come in really handy when it's time for 5th grade conferences - a 2-day span of back-to-back conferences with 75+ parents. Whew!

I meet with the students again once we've accomplished all of our class goals and we make sure together that we have everything checked off of our list. It's an easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Peek of goal card:

I'm still struggling with conferences. Science conferences are very difficult to have. The students that I know are doing well - I have a hard time conferring with them. I just don't know what to say. And the ones that are struggling a little - I have to pry out of them what they are struggling with. I'm so inexperienced with conferences since I am a 2nd year teacher - but I think it's more that science is just really difficult to confer about. I can confer all day about writing and reading and math, but science - I'm struggling. Am I the only one? Do you have conferences for science? What are some good starter questions that I could use? Or anything that might help me! 

UPDATED - per request, click here to access all of my goal cards, along with my notes sheet for conferences. :)  


  1. Would you be willling to share other goal sheets you have created? I would really like to start doing this with my 5th graders. I stumbled upon your blog last week and I am highly intrigued!

    1. I will! Thank you for reading. I will attach the file to this post. Just look for it shortly. I've also included the anecdotal note sheet that I also use when conferring. Hope it helps!!

  2. I am very excited about implementing this as we begin a new unit this week. Can you tell me how you have students reflect. Do they reflect before the test, after the test? Also do you have the students keep their goal sheets and review them weekly or do you keep the goal sheets for them?


    1. I am so glad you're using this!! My students reflect every week in their science journals. I have a standard writing prompt that they use to help them reflect on their learning. I also use different prompts to help them write about something specific that I might be looking for, depending on what we've learned on a particular week. Students keep their goal sheets in their 3-ring folders. I put holes in them so that they won't lose them. We look at our goal sheets mid-way through each unit that we're working on and then again at the end, right before the test. I try to confer with students at the halfway point through each unit and we look at our sheet together. This way, I can pinpoint which students are struggling and help them accordingly. I am trying to start science small groups and I've been really having a difficult time trying to find meaningful activities for the rest of the class to work on while I am conferring. It's a work in progress!! I like to have them look at their goal sheets before the test because everything from the test comes from those goal sheets - so essentially, if they can check everything off of that list (honestly), they will pass the test. I hope that makes sense! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I'd be more than happy to help.