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How do you help elementary students set learning goals?

How do you help elementary students set learning goals?

The start of the spring semester is a great time for teachers and parents/caregivers to hold younger children accountable for performance and learning goals that will allow the learners to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. By setting goals, students will grow in confidence as they work toward new learning.

But how can you help your students strive for goals that are sensible and achievable? First, it’s important to understand a few different types of goals, so that students have an awareness of how to think and talk about what they have learned. By setting different types of goals, educators can better identify areas that need improvement and further development. Here are some insights into the types of realistic goal setting that empower students to reflect and celebrate as they hit those major milestones.

Performance goals clearly define a specific goal that can be easily measured. For example, students can focus on demonstrating a particular task, like a hands-on experiment or a show-and-tell classroom presentation. By doing so, this shows the students skillset that reinforces their ability to comprehend and illustrate a set of directions given to them. Students’ performance can also be measured by content knowledge. For example, this can be shown through their knowledge of spelling words. Furthermore, an acquired skill or task can be judged in comparison to others by the grade received on a test or quiz.

Learning goals focus on overall learning—how mastery of a skill or concept develops understanding. Learning goals give students a deeper understanding with which they can draw conclusions, connect ideas, and build relationships to new skills and concepts. Additionally, learning goals include gaining proficiency in reading, counting, or even mathematical functions. For instance, a learning goal would be to master the multiplication tables to complete a homework assignment. Mastery develops the ability to apply knowledge in new challenges.

To ensure you’re helping your students set goals in both areas, consider utilizing Edmentum’s K–5 project-based digital curriculum, Calvert Learning. The program’s project-based curriculum is designed using the research-based PLUS framework which consists of four elements: Project, Learn, Use, and Show, and prompts students to complete projects that give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned to real-world situations. These projects can help with setting performance goals as students think on their feet to independently complete the active learning activities; and learning goals can be assessed in the steps the students took to complete the project.

The purpose behind setting goals ensures that students have a vision and some take aways from what they’re learning in the classroom. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started with setting and exceeding student goals for this semester:

1. Physically write the goals on paper:

By keeping goals somewhere visible, the students will be constantly reminded to keep working on them daily and stay excited about completing them.

2. Ensure that the goals are worthy:

Think about how the goals will benefit the students. Will it help them to make good grades, or will it help them develop mastery over what they are learning? Does it give them the opportunity apply what they are learning to real-world situations?

3. Be specific about what needs to be accomplished:

Make sure that the goal is clear and well-defined, so that the student fully understands the task of achieving it. The more specific a goal is, the easier it will be to track and measure progress along the way.

4. Develop identifiable ways to know that students met the goals:

For progress tracking purposes, you’ll want to jot down step-by-step how to achieve the goal. This will also help keep track of any obstacles, as well as make any adjustments as needed.

5. Set deadlines for when the goals should be met:

Put together a visual that students can continuously review, such as a timeline of steps with deadlines illustrated. This will help with keeping the students on schedule.

6. Celebrate steps along the way and attainment of the final goal:

As students make strides towards completing their goals, make plans to celebrate their achievement. This will keep the student focused and motivated as they journey to the finish line.

It’s important to remember that once the goals have been set, there must be a plan to achieve them. This ensures that the goals are attainable and realistic for students to reach in the amount of time they have to achieve them. So, as you get ready to round out the rest of the school year, meet with your students and start developing goals, incorporate visual reminders, and celebrate successes. For additional resources to get you started, check out our blog Setting SMART Goals in the Elementary Classroom.