Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals


(Also, check out The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting — Help Me Find More)

An article in Wall Street Journal about weight-loss prompted me to write this post.

The Power of a Gentle Nudge: Phone Calls, Even Voice Recordings, Can Get People to Go to the Gym talks about a successful experiment where they had people and/or computers call people regularly to remind them to follow-through on their commitments to exercise. Those that received both the human and computerized reminders did a much better job (the human calls did the best) than those who did not get the calls.

It reminded me why I have my students choose “buddies” with whom they check-in weekly on the progress they are making with the goals they set for themselves.

Since I wanted to use this Wall Street Journal article, I thought it would be a good opportunity to collect all my posts on student goal-setting in one place.

You might also be interested in My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students and The Best Ways To Help Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed.

Here are My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals:

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

Report On How Goal-Setting Lesson Went

“What Can You Do To Finish The Year Strong?”

What Does A Study On Voter Turn-Out Have To Do With Working With Students?

Making Goals Public

Intriguing Study On Self-Control

“Will we succeed? The science of self-motivation”

More Info On Asking If You Can Achieve Your Goals (Instead of Just Setting Them)

Avoiding Goal-Setting Problems — In The Classroom & In Education Policy

“Learning Goals” versus “Performance Goals”

“Can setting goals make you happier?”

“Making Kids Work on Goals (And Not Just In Soccer)”

Students & Visualization

Research shows that feelings of powerlessness makes you less likely to be able to plan and focus on achieving your goals. I’m adding this info to this list and it’s certainly related to New Study Says Freedom & Autonomy More Important Than Money (& Classroom Incentives?).

Easy to Visualize Goal Is Powerful Motivator to Finish a Race or a Task is a report on a study that found it’s effective for people to actually see that they are making progress towards making their goal. I think that reinforces the importance of having students regularly reflect on how they are doing, and to, as the researchers suggest, even consider writing or drawing some kind of graph showing their progress. I’m not talking about some big public achievement chart and gold stars here — just one that students keep for themselves.

I recently found a video clip that I’m wondering if it might be a helpful addition to that lesson plan. In this clip from Cinderella Man (which is a great movie), James Braddock (played by Russell Crowe) is almost knocked-out, but then he flashes back to the reason why he returned to the rink – to win and make money to support his family (he sees images from his family and their hardships). He then becomes re-energized and wins the fight.

The movie is rated PG-13, and the clip is pretty bloody (boys will love it for sure). I’m thinking of showing it and then asking students why they think he came back to win the fight, and then talk about how in the face of adversity having goals and remembering them can help keep us focused. Check out the clip and let me know if you think it would be effective or not.

If YouTube is blocked at your site, you can also find it at Movie Clips.

A new study finds that a common goal with others increases the motivation people have to be successful. It’s not a brilliant revelation, but it did get me thinking a bit about one thing I do with student goal-setting. After students choose their goals, I also let them choose their own “buddies” to support each other. I wonder if I should be a little more strategic about that and encourage them to choose a partner who has a similar goal?

If You Plan, Then You’ll Do… But It Helps to Have a Friend
is another report on what I believe is the same study.

The Folly of Stretch Goals is from The Harvard Business Review and discusses the dangers of making unrealistic goals.

Here’s a good and short video from the youngest person to ever climb Everest =- he talks about setting goals:

The Downside of Planning is by Art Markman. It provides evidence for what most of us probably know already — that we have a much better chance of succeeding in goals if we focus on fewer of them at a time.

The Downside of Planning is by Art Markman. It provides evidence for what most of us probably know already — that we have a much better chance of succeeding in goals if we focus on fewer of them at a time. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Another goal-related study found that:

“When people have set for themselves targets about how much they should engage in a behavior (say, if the behavior is how much to exercise per week), asking them to predict whether they will exercise in the next week makes them think about what they think they should do,” write authors Pierre Chandon (INSEAD), Ronn J. Smith (University of Arkansas), Vicki G. Morwitz (New York University), Eric R. Spangenberg, and David E. Sprott (both Washington State University). “This reduces the chances that they will simply repeat their past behavior and hence breaks their habits.”

This research re-emphasizes, I think, the importance of having students regularly review goals and plan what they are going to do the following week, which is what we do in our classroom.

Sticking to our goals: What’s the best approach for success? reports on another study that showed evidence for another thing most of us know — setting short-term goals (in other words, small “wins”) that lead towards bigger long-term goals increases one’s chance of success.

Student Goal-Setting Form I’m Using This Month

Dan Pink was interviewed on CBS, and it really gets at some key elements of motivation and goal-setting. There’s nothing new there for people familiar with his work, but it’s a great piece to show to colleagues and to students. I’ve embedded it below, though am not sure if it will show-up in an RSS Reader:

Student Reflection Form On Goals & Joy

Here’s The Latest Reflection/Goal-Setting Sheet I’m Using With Students

Here’s A Goal-Tracking Sheet I’m Giving To Students

10 Things You Should Know About Goals is a good summary of research on goal-setting, and is from Neuronarrative.

Supporting School-Wide Social Emotional Learning

Ways To Support Students Setting Goals

Thinking of quitting smoking? Mondays may be your day is a report in USA Today about a new study that found people were more likely to initiate efforts to quit smoking on a Monday. It seems to me that this reinforces an idea that I’ve always thought — that having students review their weekly goals at the beginning of the week was a good practice. As the article says:

The researchers are not surprised. “People see Mondays as a fresh start, a chance to get their acts together,” says Morgan Johnson, research director for The Monday Campaigns, a not-for-profit organization that leads public health efforts such as Meatless Mondays. The group, based in New York, sponsored the new study after finding that calls to smokers’ quit lines and visits to the federal government’s website also peaked on Mondays.

“The Problem With Goal-Setting”

Feel free to your own student goal-setting strategies in the comments section of this post.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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