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Student Goal-Setting Lesson I’m Trying Out On Monday


I’ve been trying to make students setting their goals and evaluating their progress towards achieving them a regular part of my classes this year (see The Best Part Of The President’s Speech & How I’ll Use It). Each week, students complete a goal sheet that includes a reflection piece.

It’s gone relatively well, though sometime both they and I get a bit lazy about them. There’s a fair amount of research highlighting its effectiveness, though, so I’m trying to make it a priority.

To combat this laziness, every few weeks I do a special lesson on goal-setting. I thought people might find what I’m doing this week useful. It’s designed to help students focus between now and the break, and during the holiday break.

I’m first going to break students into pairs to read aloud to each other the Harvard Business School Goal Story (actually, that story is a myth. You can find my replacement reading at Uh Oh, Harvard Goal Study Is An “Urban Legend”). While they’re reading, I’m going to ask them to highlight two phrases they like (not more than eight words each) and then write a one sentence summary of the information. Then they’ll share both their highlighted phrases and sentence summary with another pair of students, and I’ll have a few students share with the entire class.

Next, students will read Michael Jordan On Setting Goals, and will do the same kind of highlighting, summarizing, and sharing.

Then each student will complete a End Of Semester Goal Sheet I’ve created. They then will have the option of sharing which ever goals they feel comfortable sharing with their partner. I’m going to collect them, make copies, and return their sheets to them the following day, and then we’ll review student progress each week. Student will have the option of having their sheets signed by their parents.

After students complete the End of Semester Goal Sheet, each one will make a poster picking one of the phrases they highlighted in the two articles and illustrate it.

We’ll see how it goes. Any feedback is welcome. I’ll certainly write a post letting people know how it goes.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Setting goals is always a good thing, as is reflecting about them, but I feel that sometimes goals change as you go along, as you learn more, as you meet other people, so it may be necessary to review, from time to time, the goals you had set for yourself.

  2. Goal setting is crucial for personal development and I strongly advocate doing this. I also think it’s important to make your goals specific and measureable. For example, most people set generic goals such as “I want to start working out.” Make it more specific, such as:

    – I will start working out twice a week.
    – I will focus on strength training.
    – By the end of three months I want to increase the number of pull-ups I can do by x%

    Set timelines to achieve success and you’re more likely to follow through.

  3. What helps for me is writing down my goals is a booklet you can download at . It keeps me focused on the the things that really matter. I review my goals regularly, i always have them in my pocket.


  4. Thank you Larry! Great blog topic. Plan on using with myself and with my 12 grade advisory students.

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  7. Thanks for the lesson idea. I’ve been working with my students on setting performance goals to finish out the school year. The piece by Michael Jordan on Setting Goals may help motivate some of my more reluctant students who just happen to also be sports addicts.

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