Set Meaningful Goals With Students

Goals help focus all of this data presented to the student as a way to put it all into action. Most importantly, they can create a perfect opportunity for reflection about their achievements. Now that students have two graphs to reflect on and their own pretest it’s now time for them to make goals based on that information. 

Some goal topics that students might chose from could include the following:

  1. Grade goals: “To get an ‘A’ this time.”, “To get a passing grade on the test.”
  2. Goals on improvement margin: “To take my two out of 21 pretest to at minimum of 15 out of 21.”
  3. Learning behavior goals: “To turn in my homework on time, every time.”, “To have all my materials for class.”  
  4. Peer Goals: “To help all my group mates get a ‘C’ or higher.”, “To participate with my group much more.”
  5. Behavior Goals: “To not bother others any more.”, “To not talk so much and focus on my work.”

To represent these goals I suggest that they should be posted in the classroom. There are endless visual ways to accomplish public goal posting which are both aesthetically pleasing and useful to your class. Below you see a picture of a tree on a large bulletin board where the die-cut leaves are the goals for students.  Spend some time visiting the tree at random moments and read what the students have written. Ask them how they are doing on their goals. This does not need to be a time consuming task for you.

The students will enjoy a visually pleasing representation of their goals as well as the symbolism. Most importantly, students will be thinking about goals and reflecting on what they have done each time they stop to admire the tree.

After the posttest and subsequent data conversations are over, have students get their goals from the tree and one at a time with students, quickly ask them if they were successful or not. If they were, celebrate it! Below you see a second tree in the same classroom where the students are given a die cut fruit to represent success on their goal and the ‘fruits of their labor’. On it have students write why or how they were successful on their goal. 

Large cork board made into a goal tree

If students are not successful, help them identify why they were not and what they can do next time. They can flip their goal leaf over and write a new goal with the chosen method to achieve that goal.

“Fruit of Your Labor” tree or Achievement Tree

On the next couple of pages are some examples of real students’ goals that they have made for one unit in my class. You will see that many of the goals are not perfect examples, but are an honest reflection of what these students wanted to choose as a goal for themselves. 

The second page of these pictures are goal leaves and the apples from the fruit tree. When a student reached a goal, he or she took the leaf off of the goal tree and received a ‘fruit of their labor’ apple. They then put both on the success tree.

All the goal leaves are real students from my 2010-2011 seventh grade math class at the American International School, Vienna, Austria. 

This Goal is So Meta


2 thoughts on “Set Meaningful Goals With Students

  1. Been brainstorming different ideas on how to decorate my classroom, and remembered this great idea that I stole from you years ago. Will send a pic!


    1. Excellent! I’m always missing you and I hope your new adventure pans out well. It sure looks like an exciting part of the world at the moment. I’ll look forward to the picture for sure!


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