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How to Guide Readers & Writers to Set Reasonable Goals

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Within the education world the word--data--can be so blinding.

However…as like-minded teaching professionals, we all know it’s important to profile your readers & writers using data. BUT...the right kind of 'data'.

Data that is found within a reader's & writer's authentic work.

Assessing a reader’s or writer's progress and tracking their growth means getting to know your learners AND your learners seeing themselves as readers & writers.

Reading & Writing Profiles

Creating a learner's profile is not just a task that is required by a school district. It's essential to tracking growth.

When you work with your readers & writers to curate authentic pieces of work to include in a literacy portfolio, you are empowering them to see the kinds of readers and writers they can become.

Learners need to see where they have been and how far they have come.

So, just what is a reader or writer profile?

This could be an individual profile to address each reader or writer's specific needs.

A Learner's Profile paints a visual picture of each reader or writer that documents growth and change throughout a school year.

Profiling a learner doesn’t have to take a large amount of time.

Profiling a learner simply means gathering a few reading and/or writing artifacts (work samples) from the learner and assembling some quick notes.

This can be done any time throughout a school year. Actually it’s an ongoing process.

Assembling a Learner's Profile

Think about the different kinds of artifacts that can give you the information you need to profile the kinds of readers and writers you have.

This could mean how the reader responds and reacts to text within stop and jots or longer written responses.

This could mean any reading interest surveys your readers have completed or reflections they have had about their own reading progress.

This could mean any tracking charts that show reading level and progress made over time.

This could mean notes you have about how they engage during independent reading or during talks and discussions about books.

This could mean any conferring notes you have taken about the reader.

It definitely means any running records you have conducted –formal or informal.

Running Records are a quick glance into a reader's head when a point of difficulty is reached.

These quick little snapshots show a reader's strengths and areas of difficulty or concern.

This could mean student written reflections about how they are working as writers at this point.

These could be published pieces of writing where the writer spotlights the their best piece of the writing.

I’ve Created Learner Profiles, Now What?

Help your learners see their own reading & writing profile to drive the goals they set for themselves as readers and writers.

Once you have built a profile, you get the privilege of sharing with your reader & writer all of the success and progress made up to that point.

Then you get to guide your learner into setting new reading or writing goals based on all the work & progress.

Literacy portfolios, reader/writer profiles and walks through student reading & writing work should not be conducted alone and filed away in a file cabinet.

👉 Learners need to see their successes and struggles as readers & writers.

👉 Learners need to reflect and think aloud about their reading & writing work up to that point.

👉 Learners will see what they can accomplish when they reflect on the reading & writing work they have done to set new goals.

👉 Learners need to determine what they are doing as learners and the kind of readers & writers they want to become.

When learners take part in the reflection and goal setting they are more empowered to work toward showing progress to move closer to the reader & writer vision they have made for themselves.


Steps for Setting Reasonable Goals

With Readers & Writers

Have learners browse through their reader or writer notebook and/or literacy portfolios to review all the work they have done so far.

They should ask themselves what they notice about their work and what they are wondering about what they can do as a learner to improve in reading or writing.

Have them jot a few notes down about what they notice.

Have a conversation with your learner about how they see themselves as a reader or writer right now.

Ask these questions…

1. What kind of reader (or writer) do you want to become?

2. How do you think you can become that reader (or writer)?

3. What would you need to do to become that kind of reader (or writer)?

Share your vision of the reader or writer.

Share what you kind of reader or writer you think the learner can become.

Then, ask, How are the visions the same and how are they different?

Based on the conversations determine a reasonable goal to help your readers (or writers) move closer to the reader (or writer) he or she wants to become.

Think about what they noticed, what they want to accomplish and the visions of the future reader (or writer).

Choose ONE goal to work on now.

Some readers may want to work on reading volume and stamina. Other readers may want to work on “reading between the lines”. Others may want to work on noticing characters.

Some writers may want to work on creating volume in their writing. Other writers may want to elaborate more to be more descriptive. Others may want to work on crafting a more catching lead or introduction.

A reasonable goal is all about what the learner wants to focus on for the next few weeks.

Write the goal together using a thinking stem, such as:

  • I will ____________ by _______________.

Examples to spark your thinking about reading goals:

  1. I will read for longer periods of time by tracking the number of minutes I actually read during independent reading using a bar graph.

  2. I will jot my noticings about text using the sentence stem “The author wrote…, so that makes me think….

  3. When I lose track of a character, I will go back and reread to gather information about the characters actions, behaviors and inner thoughts.

Examples to spark your thinking about writing goals:

  1. I will write for longer periods of time to create a larger volume on entries in my notebook.

  2. I will write 3 different leads for the piece I'm working so that I have a choice.

  3. I will find 3 places in my writing piece to revise for more description.

Work together to determine small action steps the learner can take to achieve the goal.


1. How are you going to meet your goal?

2. What steps are you going to take in the next few weeks?

3. What will you have to do to meet your goal?

Write those little steps down for easy access like inside the reader (or writer) notebook.

Review the goal and action plan together.

Place a copy in the student’s literacy portfolio and have the learner place a copy in their Reader’s or Writer's Notebook.

Return to the goal in about 4 weeks to review and reflect AND...

  • Determine new action steps to take to meet the goal.

  • OR, celebrate the goal achievement and set a new goal.


Creating a learner's profile is not just a task that is required by a school district. It's essential to tracking growth. When you work with readers & writers to curate authentic pieces of work to include in a literacy portfolio, you are empowering them to see the kinds of readers and writers they can become.

Until next time...

Goal writing and reflection tools found

here 👇 in the Literacy Treasures Shop



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