Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Simple Activity to Help Students Set Personal Goals

This activity was used with 3rd through 5th graders, but as a former secondary teacher, I think it could be used with middle school and high school students as well. It'd be a nice activity during an advisory period or used as part of a campus character development curriculum.

It's a pretty simple activity, but it gets kids thinking about ways to improve as students. And it lets them be creative.

Students take a sheet of blank paper and fold it in half length-wise, or hot dog, as they like to call it. Then fold that into fourths. They unfold the fourths and cut up one side only, until they come to the crease. 

On each flap, they write one digit for the year 2014. Each flap has a thinking prompt. 2 is for two things they want to improve upon, 0 is for one thing they want to stop doing, 1 is for one person they want to know better, and 4 is for four books they want to read this year. 

I had my doubts about whether students would take this mini-project seriously because it would come from a substitute instead of me personally. However, when I looked at the student responses the following day, I was really, really impressed. It was easy to see they put thought and effort into what their answers and their designs.  

Student under-the-flap responses

I loved reading about how they want to improve (study more and goofing off less were popular answers), what bad habits they want to stop, who they want to know better, and especially which four books they want to read this year. Of course, I'll be adding any books we might not already have into the library collection. 

Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful creations were ruined by glitter glue due to the papers being left on top of one another over night. There just wasn't any way to save the work. But I'm going to ask those students to redo theirs because I'd really like to display their beautiful work along with the other work. 

And as you can tell from the pictures, the student work is on display in the library. I only had time to hang up half of the papers this afternoon, yet the library already looks so much better! It's lively and colorful, and students can read each other's responses. 

This is something I can save for them until late May and use for reflection and discussion as the school year winds to a close. We can look back together and see how many of them met those goals and who might still be working on them. 

Just watch out for glitter glue. 

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