Goal setting is an essential skill for all learners. We must ensure all students understand how goals can help them achieve great things! These goal-setting activities are the perfect addition to growth mindset lessons, morning meetings, or social-emotional learning experiences.
Growth Mindset and Goal-Setting Activities
As teachers, we often create goals for ourselves. Whether we want to get organized, plan a couple of weeks in advance, or leave work at a decent hour. Goals help people (like us) in many ways and can help our students too!
Why is Goal-Setting Important For Kids?
Goal-setting is a great way to ensure students take responsibility for their learning, relationships, and other parts of their school life. It is also a great way to increase student motivation.
Setting goals with students gives them a sense of purpose, improves their confidence and self-esteem, and helps them focus and make better decisions.
Types of Goals
There are two goal types, according to Carol Dweck. Dweck and Elliot say that the kind of goals students set “reveal implications for the tasks students choose, how they approach these tasks, how they react to the outcomes, and in the end, what they learn.”
Learning or Mastery Goals
Learning goals that students set will help them increase their competence or intelligence. These goals have a purpose that revolves around personal development and growth.
Performance goals are often for students who want to demonstrate their academic ability. These types of goals sometimes cause students to avoid challenging tasks and anxiety about failure in students.
Although these goals are often the two most common, there is a way to make goal-setting work more effective and meaningful for students.
To help students with effective goal setting, you want to have students write down their goals. It is a great way to help them achieve the goals they set. They should write measurable and attainable goals or SMART goals.
Creating SMART goals with students is one of the best ways to help them achieve them. Each letter in SMART has a specific meaning and makes the goal-writing process easier for students. Think of these types of goals as an “action plan.”
- Specific – Students should clarify the who, what, when, and where of their goal. Discuss with your class using specific words vs. ones that are vague or open to interpretation.
- Measurable – When setting goals, students need to be able to know when they have reached their goals. They also need to know if they are making progress as well. While going over goal setting, discuss with your class how they could measure their goals.
- Attainable or Actionable – Students need to be realistic about what they will be able to achieve during the school year. Since students are in the primary grades, you may need to help them understand that the best goals to set involve things they can take action on now.
- Relevant – Students should be able to explain their goals’ personal and academic benefits and discuss the qualities that make their goals worthwhile.
- Timely – Students need to feel successful and see their success. It is best if you have them decide on goals that they need to achieve by the end of the school year.
SMART goals are going to be challenging for students in the primary grades. Writing SMART goals often involves multiple revisions, and students may need support from you or a teaching assistant to help rewrite their goals.
Benefits of Goal-Setting
If students can successfully set and achieve their goals, there are many benefits.
- Provide Direction – Goals give student direction and a destination. They also give students something to aim for and a way to direct their efforts.
- Focus and Decision Making – Goals help give students focus and allow them to decide which steps they need to take to accomplish them instead of randomly trying to accomplish one task or another. Goal setting lets students zone in on the steps they need to take and decide which action to take first or what they do not need to do at that specific time.
- Control – Setting goals helps students take control of their future. They can see what they are working towards and what their future will look like if they accomplish their goals.
Goal-Setting Read Alouds
If you want to add some read-alouds to your goal-setting workshop and goal-setting activities, there are many great books out there that can help. They can help show goal setting in realistic and easy-to-understand ways for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
Goal-Setting Read Alouds
5 Goal-Setting Activities
If you are looking to start discussing goals with students, here are some goal-setting exercises for students. These goal-setting activities for Kindergarten through 2nd or 3rd through 5th can help make the process of setting goals fun and educational all at the same time!
My Elastic Brain
Teach students that their brains can change, stretch, grow and become stronger when they learn new things. One way you can physically show this concept is to stretch and pull an elastic band, and this demonstration helps show how the brain can also stretch and change.
Discuss with students how our brains have billions of tiny neurons; when we learn something new, it causes the brain to grow more connections among neurons (neuroplasticity). The brain stretches and makes more room to learn new things and face new challenges. Read aloud the book Your Fantastic Elastic Brain to show students how all this works!
After this discussion, create a chart and brainstorm how the brain changes and things students have done to stretch their brains to learn.
SMART Goal Sorting
After students learn about goals, specifically SMART goals, work as a class to sort task cards into two piles (SMART goals and not SMART goals). Once done sorting the cards, discuss why each card is in a certain stack. If you are working with upper elementary students, have them try and figure out how to change each one to make it into a SMART goal.
This activity will encourage students to dive into the idea of SMART goals and look at each part of a goal to determine whether it is a SMART goal.
SMART Goal Reflection
Once students have set their SMART goals, it is a good idea to be ready to reflect. Have students write about their goals after a set time period.
This reflection sheet will help students see what they accomplished, how they accomplished it, what they learned, and what their next step needs to be.
Growth Mindset Journal
Students can keep a journal throughout the goal-setting activities and their goal-setting journey. Students write and draw about the different mindset and goal-setting topics they learned about and that you discussed as a class.
Once you have discussed growth mindset, the goal-setting process, and SMART goals, it’s time to allow students the opportunity to create a goal and write it down.
Create a garden of goals to display all of the student’s hard work and allow others in the school to see the goals they are working towards.
Growth Mindset Resources
Free Growth Mindset Journal & Goal Setting Templates
Developing a growth mindset and goal-setting skills is important for students. Try both in your classroom with this FREE growth mindset journal and SMART goal setting poster and templates.
Students can easily develop, write, and reflect upon the goals.
Click the image below to grab a copy.
Growth Mindset Units
Try the Growth Mindset Unit for K-2 or 3-5 by Proud to be Primary. A great way to start the year, build strong and independent students, and give students the tools they need to succeed as adults!
If you like this resource, you’ll love the social-emotional curriculum for K-2 and 3-5!
More Growth Mindset and Goal-Setting Ideas
Teaching a growth mindset in the classroom
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