Tag Archive: goals

IMG_2292Yesterday marked the last day of school at Lowell.  I can’t believe my 5th year is in the books.  I still feel so new to the game, yet I feel like I’ve been teaching for a lifetime.  I love being a teacher and I love helping kids achieve greatness.  Back in April our kiddos took the Iowa Assessments and I got to be in Mrs. Ryan’s room to help with testing/supervision.  I promised the kids that if they met all 4 goals they could water balloon me at the end of the school year.  Mrs. Ryan said she would go in on that deal with me, too.  Well, yesterday we made good on our deal with the kids.  3 of Mrs. Ryan’s kis met all 4 goals and got to throw water balloons at us.  They soaked us!!

IMG_2288So this is my last post for the 2013-2014 school year.  I am taking the whole summer off to spend with my son and visit family in Alaska.  Thank you for reading my blog, posting wonderful comments, and being supportive.  I’ve learned SO much this year and look forward to my 6th year back at Lowell.  This year has been very difficult for me and I thank each of you who have provided support in some way.  You make me a better person and a better teacher.  I look forward to 2 months off with family to recharge and come back a better Ms. Acuff and ready for the challenges of 2014-2015.


1st grade writing rubricIn a previous post you saw my writing conference sheets I use with my 2nd and 3rd graders to help them focus on some goals they need to pick for their writing.  This wasn’t appropriate for my 1st graders, but I felt I needed to establish something that would have them making reflections on their writing as well.  I found a Kindergarten writing rubric online (which you can download here for free) and thought it fit well with where my 1st graders are developmentally as well. (Photo of the rubric to the right.)

Currently I am not having my 1st graders fill out the entire form.  I have them focus on the top 3, which are my biggest priorities right now–handwriting, appropriate capitals, and spacing.  Typically I let my 1st graders draw a picture to go with their writing for the last 2 minutes of group and they like to fill out the drawing portion of the rubric as well.

IMG_5604It was a big overwhelming to try and take on everything on that sheet.  Plus, there just isn’t enough time.  I would eventually like to be able to focus on the bottom half, which talks about mastering sight words and moving away from invented spelling.  Right now we need a starting place and then seemed like a small enough chunk for my 1st graders to bite off.

But honesty is a really hard thing to deal with when you are still so small.  I let my kids circle what they think first, while I’m working with other kids.  Then I conference with them and we talk about what they IMG_5603circled.  We had to have a group conversation that this does not mean you are a bad writer, but that this gives us a goal on how to be better.

After that conversation I started to see some more honest reflections on their writing.  Students we recognizing when they had capitals in the wrong places and whether their handwriting could be better.  I was proud of them for looking at their writing and evaluating things that could be improved upon and celebrating things that are going well–such as our spacing!  Woo hoo!  We are finally getting to a place where MOST of the time we have spaces between words.  We’ve been working on Spaghetti and Meatball spacing–I’ll tell you more about that in another post!

IMG_0068Part of the Comprehensive Intervention Model (CIM) Guided Reading Plus intervention is to have reading and writing conferences with your students.  I conference with my students regularly, but I was beginning to feel like what we conferenced about wasn’t sticking with the kids.  And to be honest, it wasn’t really sticking with me either.  I often times couldn’t (and can’t) always remember what I’ve told the kids we should work on.  Then I started to feel bad because 1. I couldn’t remember giving them praise on anything particular they were doing well, and 2. I don’t think I was showing value in the conferences if neither of us could really remember what we had talked about.

So I had seen plenty of guided reading conference sheets online, but I wasn’t finding any writing ones.  I decided to develop my own.  I thought about all the things I was harping on the kids to do and typed them up.  It’s a half sheet and we ended up conferencing today by looking through each of the journal entries and decided what they were doing well and what things we could continue to work on.  I highlighted what they were doing well and what they needed to work on.  To make sure I didn’t lose them we glued them to the back of their journals right by where they glued in the synonym rolls.  Now before they write I can ask them to check their writing sheet to see what they need to focus on for the day.  This is a good reminder for me so I can check it before I conference with them.  Then as they start to make those goals into strengths we can check them off the list.

The students seemed pretty excited about the sheets.  I hoping this helps make our time a lot more productive and meaningful.  If you would like a copy of this please shoot me an email or leave a comment on this post so I can get it to you.


As a specialist I hear many times from the classroom teacher, “Whoa!  He was able to do that with you?” or “No!  She isn’t using that strategy when she’s in group with me.”  These types of comments can be extremely frustrating for me AND the classroom teacher as the student is seemingly not transferring knowledge from me to the classroom or vice versa.

One of the things I decided to try with my 2nd and 3rd graders is a “What stuck with you?” chart.  (I wish I could say this was my own creation, but I stole the idea from Title 1 teacher, Erin Sale, from Lincoln, who is in my Reading Intervention cohort)  Today I had my students write on a post-it note something that “stuck with them” from our reading or writing conferences we had.  Things varied from “break down the word”, “the edge is my friend” (referring to filling the page and not just writing in the center of the paper) to “using capitals”.  My hope is that each student will really stop and think after each lesson about something that really stood out or stuck with them that they can use in the classroom when I am not there.

This worked really well with my 3rd graders.  They each very easily were able to talk about something we had conferenced about and made it their goal to work on for the next time.  This was a difficult task for my 2nd graders.  When I asked them what stuck with them about our conference, they each started talking about the story they had read or about their writing.  They weren’t mentioning anything we talked about that they needed to work on or a strategy they could use to help themselves at a later point.  It took a lot of discussing before we got to a point where they could write something down.  Perhaps in the next coming weeks we’ll do some goal setting and work our way up to using the “what stuck with you” chart.  I will continue to use this with my 3rd graders.  I’m excited to see in the coming weeks if there starts to be more of a transfer from the work they do with me to the work they do with their teacher.