Our Winter Break is coming to a close, and I thought I’d share two activities I’ll be doing with my Beginning English Language Learners on the first day of our return:


I’ve done lots of goal-setting variations with students over the years (see Best Posts On Students Setting Goals).  Today, though, I read a fascinating piece from New York Magazine headlined To Change Your Life, Learn How to Trust Your Future Self that shared a different “take” on the idea.

It’s interesting (though overly-long – reading the second half of the article would be sufficient). I’m not going to go into the whole thing but it reviews research suggesting it’s better to start off with relatively easy goals that you can meet, and then gradually, each week (or some kind of short period of time), increase the difficulty of them. Achieving the goals each week gives you more confidence that you can achieve the next more difficult ones.

This is how I’m going to apply it first thing Monday morning:

I’m going to ask students to develop three goals — two school related ones and on non-school (they can do all three school related ones if they want.).
I’m going to give them a summary of the research described in the article and ask them to identify small goals that they are pretty sure they can meet by the end of the week. I’ll provide this sentence-starters:
“Everyday this week I am going to _____________________”
I’ll provide sentences like these as models:

Everyday this week I am going to do Duolingo for ten minutes outside of school.

Everyday this week I am going to read a book in English for five minutes outside of school.

They’ll also draw an image for each goal and present them in the front of the class.

We’ll review them at the end of the work and, if it goes well, create slightly more challenging goals for the following week.

I think it’s worth a try, and will write about how it goes….



Cellphones clearly have a place in the classroom, but they also have to be kept in their place (see The Best Posts On Student Cellphone Use In Class — Please Contribute More).

I’m generally fine with ELL Beginners having their phones out for translation and definitions but, of course, the lure of texting is always there.

I’m going to begin enforcing having the phones put away in backpacks more (even having them in pockets can be too much of a temptation.

And I’m going to introduce this new “rule” using research that has just come out describing the distractions generated by just having a phone out near you.

Science Daily summarizes the research in Who gets most distracted by cell phones?

Here’s an excerpt:

Researchers have verified that the mere presence of a cell phone or smartphone can adversely affect our cognitive performance…

Introducing changes by connecting them to research always seems to be better received.

Here’s some other similar research:

How about you – are you making any changes on Monday morning?