The Power of Daily Student Goals

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photo credit: still searching... via photopin cc
Are you making goals? photo credit: still searching… via photopin cc

In a workshop setting — involving both individual and collaborative activities on computers and in books — there can be many distractions. Although proper coaching from the beginning of the year helps students understand the value of efficient work, it’s easy for the chaos to get out of hand, especially when the year is coming to a close.

What I always fell back on that quickly re-engaged my learners was daily student goals.

Teachers often help students set yearly, perhaps even quarterly, goals. While they do consume more time, daily student goals can be even more powerful.

When I taught 40-minute blocks, I didn’t have students set daily goals for the entire year, because I believed I didn’t have enough time for both goal setting and in-class activities. It is easy to have student goals everyday, though, when you teach in longer blocks. Anytime I felt like I was getting less engagement, I knew it was time to return to daily student goals.

The process is simple and works beautifully in a digital learning environment. A class blog or message board is perfect for setting daily goals, but goals can also be written on notebook paper or an index card. I instruct students to tell me what they’ll accomplish in a specific amount of time. So, a goal might look like this:

“In 40 minutes, I will read two nonfiction articles, bookmark  them on Diigo and annotate both. I will also post a reflection  letter on the novel, The Hunger Games, on KidBlog.”

What makes this truly effective is saving five minutes at the end of class and asking students to complete a self-evaluation, in which they now write down exactly what they accomplished and see if it matches the goal. If not, ask them what they could do differently next time to meet the goal.

If you want student accountability without the pressure of grades, try daily student goals. Let us know how it works.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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