Effective goal setting is an important life skill. Even without formal education about goal setting, high school students have likely set personal goals in the past. They aspire to graduate high school, get their driver’s license, get a job, get a car, get a date, and accomplish a variety of other tasks. Use this vision to engage high school students in activities that will expand their vision and help them work toward meaningful goals.
Goal setting can make an excellent semester project. Start the term by having each student identify two or three short-term personal goals that he hopes to accomplish within the duration of the term. Goals could include getting a job, passing all his classes, reading the dictionary, or raising a certain amount of money for a school or extracurricular activity. Students should not select goals that they are unlikely to obtain, such as walking on the moon, earning a million dollars or buying a house.
Have each student define her goals on separate pieces of paper. They should outline the steps required to achieve each of their goals, consider potential problems and solutions in obtaining their goal, and set a deadline.
Throughout the term, check on students' progress. At the end of the term, have each student give a thorough report of her status. Students should have accomplished at least one of their chosen goals or at least given the goal a serious effort. Have students analyze their efforts for areas of success and areas that need improvement.
Today, Tomorrow, Next Week
For very short-term goal planning, have students decide on a goal and describe the steps they will take today, tomorrow and next week to achieve it within two weeks. For example, a student who wants to get a job could decide to fill out two dozen applications today, make ten follow-up calls tomorrow and physically visit each location next week to speak with the hiring manager.
Have each student turn his goal setting into a board game. To do this, each student will need to define the goal, or objective, of the game. Encourage her to design a creative board game centered on this theme. During the creation of this project, students will have to define the rules, outline the strategy, and identify potential pitfalls, hazards and challenges.
At the end of this project, have students share their games with others and designate a goal game day where students can try other students' games.
Create Your Own Assignment
Give goal setting entirely new meaning by allowing students to create the lesson plan. This activity is much more complicated than it sounds, because it requires students to communicate, think creatively, work as a team, trust each other, manage their time and set goals as a group.
Divide students into groups of five. Each group must choose their own activity, one that they believe they can do better than any other group. Groups earn points if they are actually better at their activity than any other group and if they can copy another group’s activity when each group presents.
Reach high school students by connecting on their level. While real-world goal setting may seem elusive, many students enjoy computer gaming. With parental and administrative consent, encourage students to participate in a certain online game or website to achieve a certain status.
Many popular online games, including Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft game, offer free trials for short periods. Students can establish a trial account and set a goal to reach level 25 or have a certain amount of currency on hand by the end of the week. Since World of Warcraft is a multiplayer online role-playing game, students can work together or alone to achieve their goals.