Article Review: Setting Goals

Have you discussed goals with your students yet? The start of a new school year is an excellent time to go over goals, especially their learning goals for the term. It’s a good idea to review their goals once or twice throughout the year, too. The benefits are numerous.

First, it’s something interesting and easy to talk about. It’s a natural icebreaker when students may be getting to know new classmates. Have students discuss their learning goals, but also talk about their goals/dreams in life.

Second, it helps students focus on what they’d like to learn during the year. They’ll realize that they are in school to learn and improve—that it’s never a “waste of time” or only about having fun. My students always feel great when, later in the year, I can point out that they have accomplished certain goals, or at least are clearly on the path toward doing so.

Third, it helps teachers figure out what students want from the class. It might give you some good ideas for lessons, and it will help you tailor the syllabus to meet their specific needs. It will also help you with student evaluations when you can point out that they’ve accomplished their goals or need to do more work in certain areas in order to do so.

Fourth, it’s a good time to present the simple future as a grammar point. The simple future can be confusing for students because we have three forms in English: will + base verb, be going to + base verb, and be + -ing verb. Also, students find it hard to remember that we normally don’t use the future form twice in a sentence—we use the future form in the independent clause and the simple present in the dependent clause even though the entire sentence has a future meaning. I blogged about teaching the simple future over on our sister site, ESL-Library. Check out my simple future post for my favorite method of presenting the future and some fun activities for practice.

This week’s review is for the article Back to School: Goal Setting with Your Students by Maurice Elias. It was featured on Edutopia‘s website, and is full of great suggestions on how to set goals with your middle/upper elementary school students. Maurice has a step-by-step plan on how students can set positive goals that can be reviewed weekly. He focuses on more than academic goals—he suggests that students choose “virtues” and work to improve their characters as well.


Tanya Trusler

Tanya is a freelance editor and writer with an extensive background as an ESL teacher. She edits lesson plans, creates new materials, and writes weekly blog posts for ESL-Library and Sprout English. Her company is Editing to a T. Follow her on Twitter (@tanyatrusler) and Google Plus.

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