Setting students up for writing success is important in the younger grades. We want them to enjoy writing and we want them to practice their craft. Putting too much focus on the conventions of writing–capitalization, spelling, and punctuation–can take away from the fun of writing. Giving students the freedom to choose their own writing goals not only empowers students, it can make writing more enjoyable
Goals in Writing
In the world of writing, it can be difficult to decide what should be a goal. It can also be difficult to look past the lowercase letters that should be capitalized and the misspelled words, but it’s so, so important for teachers of young writers to see beyond these errors. There’s so much more to writing.
So here is a list of writing goals for kindergarten, first, and second grade students:
- add details to pictures
- stay focused during writing time
- stay on topic
- write a beginning, middle, and end
- add dialogue and feelings
- word choice
- revise writing
- edit writing
- work with peers to revise writing
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good starting off point for young writers. You might find some goals more appropriate for certain grade levels. Either way, goals in writing can benefit your students, as it gives them a focus as they’re improving their writing craft.
Choosing a Writing Goal
There’s often the debate of should the teacher choose the goal or should the students? Of course that’s up to you, but it could be beneficial for students if you give them a starting off point and choose the goal for them. Or you can confer with students and use the this or that goal setting. In a conference you can point out how well a student is staying on topic then ask, “Which goal do you think would be best for you: staying on topic or adding details to your pictures?”
Giving students options is always a great way to get started. But also taking time to meet with each student to praise his or her strengths and asking what he or she would like to improve on in writing generally brings great results.
However you choose to set goals, remember that it’s a love for writing that we want our students to gain from their time in our classrooms.
Writing Goal Displays
The way you display your writing goals is completely up to you and your classroom management style. There are many ways to do it from writing it on a sticky note to posting it in the classroom. However you choose to do it, make sure it’s not forgotten and that it’s revisited every time students are writing.
Writing Goal: Focus
Some students need to practice staying focused during writing time. Your students might be talking to classmates or tearing the paper off of crayons, so working on goal might be a focus.
Many students enjoy having a timer in front of them and others simply need a graphic or written note of their goal as they are working. Another idea is to have students use privacy partitions or the opportunity to choose a spot in the classroom they can work.
Writing Goal: Adding Details to Illustrations
As students add details to their illustrations, they begin to see that small details can make their pictures more interesting. This can eventually be used as tool to remind students to add more details to their writing.
This goal begins with the teacher modeling how to add more detail to their illustrations. This can also be practiced with shared and guided writing. Another idea is to show photos and have students discuss the details in the pictures that make the picture interesting to look at.
Writing goals for kindergarten will likely begin here as students begin to tell stories with pictures.
Writing Goal: Stay on Topic
I have found that this goal is rarely and issue, but if it is, do quick check ins with these students to make sure they’re sticking to the topics they have chosen.
Writing Goal: Write a Beginning, Middle, and End
Writing a beginning, middle, and end reminds writers to use transition words and also demonstrated that connection between reading and writing. Have students write a transition word on each page or practice using transition words as they tell stories.
Eventually, students can learn other words besides first, then, next, and last, but this will keep students focused on telling a beginning, middle, and end of a story.
Writing Goal: Add Detail to Words and Illustrations
Yes this goals is similar to the one above, but this goal includes being more intentional with dialogue, feelings, and movement within the illustrations, which can be written into the stories.
If a student uses talking bubbles on an illustration, they can practice adding dialogue with quotation marks in the written part. These details require a bit more understanding of writing than just adding more pictures.
Writing Goal: Word Choice
Word choice can be the best part of reading your students’ writing. Seeing them experiment with new words in their writing can be what hooks you. Not only that, there are so many fun tools for helping students write creatively.
The Color Dictionary is one of my students’ favorite resources to add interesting words to writing. Instead of using the word blue, they can use robin’s egg blue.
However it is you set writing goals for your students, they will help students improve their writing. Give students more ownership of their writing and they’ll show so much progress.
If you’d more ideas for setting writing goals, you’ll like the post-Writing Goals: an Easy to Follow Step-by-Step Guide.