Sometimes the most elegant solution is a simple one. Goal cards are a meaningful tool that can help students take a stepwise approach to independence. Begin with a large index card, markers, and a vision. Teachers can make a goal card on the spot during a research conference or have it prepared ahead of time for a coaching conference. Whatever the student need, a goal card can break down the learning into manageable bits. They are meant to be concise and easily put to use by the student. Pairing pictures and kid friendly prompts is a way to make learning both relevant and engaging. For example:
Teachers and students can use these cards flexibly to attain quick “mini-goals” that lead towards greater independence. They can be used in a variety of ways: nonverbal just point to the card, they can be a source for formative data during a conference, or a way to facilitate conversation during partnership work. The possibilities are endless. Think of them as a device to help the gradual release happen for students. Once the card is inserted into the work the teacher can take a step back and observe the student put it to use. Was it effective? Did the student get what was needed? Either way, they reveal what “next steps” need to be taken.
A simple tool that is easily understood and readily put to use by students is the solution we’ve all been looking for! Anchor charts and tools are becoming much more kid friendly than their wordy cousins. The card is powerful because it can be moved around, it’s small, it fits in students’ hands as they go to work at their own learning. Its strength is in its simplicity and proximity. This is a tool that is made for kids and is a device for agency. The kids are manipulating it as needed.
We believe in creating openings for students to see themselves in their own learning. We can model and show examples, and then we can explore student thinking and allow them to reveal their thinking to us. Here is a better one, as we are going through this process with children, we are giving students the power, they are creating their own tools as they construct meaning for themselves.
We were thinking about how empowering this tool can be when used strategically. An important question came to mind, how can we do more with this tool? A student who creates a goal card is working at the synthesis / evaluative level. Students are vested in their learning because it has relevancy. Agency is realized by the student as the goal card represents their best thinking at the time of the learning.
Meet Luka. He has created a goal card that gave him the language and the actions he needs to be successful. Consider his work, it tells a story about how he is approaching word solving through both word attack and meaning making:
Luka created this card back in February, he used the strategy independently yesterday. He no longer needs the card but he can explain the strategy and teach it to other students. This is real learning and true ownership.