Saturday, January 2, 2016

Helping Students Set Goals for the New Semester

For most schools, when students return in January they are not only starting a new year - they are starting a new semester.  This is a chance for them to make some changes in their approach to learning and studying and a great time to talk about goal setting as a part of the first lessons.

"New Year's Resolutions" usually aren't really goals - they are more like "wishes".  Real goals need to be SMART - an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.  Students may have heard of this concept before, or it may be brand new.  

This lesson is great for all ages.  In my 8th grade classroom, I use a combination of small group and individual work with this lesson.  Since my students are at an age where they love to share with their peers, this gives them a chance to discuss what is important to them and get feedback from those they value most (each other!).  

First, we go through the SMART goals as a class:  what they are and why they are different than "hopeful wishes".  Then, they choose a group to work with, grab a piece of chart paper and some colored markers for the group, and start brainstorming.  For this age, letting them choose who they feel comfortable sharing with has worked best for me, but you can use other methods for choosing groups (or partners) too.  I never let them work in a group larger than 4.  In their group, they will brainstorm on goals they might have for things they want to improve, new things they want to try, and things that would help others and enter those on the chart paper.  I time this activity (5-7 minutes) using a free online timer on my SMARTBoard and then have them tape their charts to the wall and we all do a "gallery walk" to see the ideas.

Now it's time for them to work individually on the next part - creating their own personal list of possible goals for the upcoming semester.  I use two different worksheets to guide them through this, to help make their ultimate goal truly SMART!

We revisit this periodically throughout the semester to make sure they are on track to attaining their goal, or revising it if necessary.  If you'd like the full lesson with all the worksheets, printables, and resources, it is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment