Student Portfolios: Goal-Setting

The portfolio-building process is a lengthy, time-consuming one. In some ways, I feel like perhaps I’m drawing it out too much; however, I feel strongly that, ultimately, the true benefit for students comes from reflection and goal-setting, and these things don’t happen overnight. It takes time–time to create the work, reflect on it and to set appropriate goals.

Most recently, my students and I reflected on the writing process and came up with these examples of what quality writing looks like for each of the four criteria we selected to focus on this year:


After I held an individual writing conference with each student during the revision process of their first writing project, students took another look at this table, and set personal writing goals. I asked them to choose one revision goal from the last column and one goal from any of the other columns.

This past Friday, I returned their first writing assignment with a rubric and specific comments about their final published piece.

I asked students to highlight positive comments in the assessment of things they were doing well, and highlight things I identified as “things they need to work on.”

Next, I asked them to review their writing goals. Based on this latest assessment, did they need to revise or add to their writing goals?

The purpose of this 3 step-by-step process:

  • Reflection on quality writing in connection with our criteria
  • Setting initial goals
  • Goal review and revision

…was to emphasize that setting goals and working on them requires continual self-reflection.

I think it’s important to revisit goals often–otherwise the goal-setting process is rendered quite meaningless. Now that their goals are set, we will review them every time we start a new project and at the end to reflect on improvement.

In the end, in order for goals to be meaningful they need to be:

  • Specific and measurable
  • Related to a real, concrete skill the student knows how to and NEEDS to work on
  • Revisited often
  • Reflected on and revised when appropriate

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