Today I want to share with you a fun and easy activity I like to do with students when we return from winter break. The activity involves New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting, so first I wanted to provide a little information on what I have learned about student goal setting since I started working in the schools. If you’re just looking for the activity, keep scrolling to the end!
Collaborating with Students
One of the things my school district heavily emphasizes is collaborating with students. When I first transitioned to the school setting from a pediatric clinic, this made absolutely zero sense to me. I’m the expert – I know what I’m doing – can’t I determine the most appropriate goals and interventions each student on my caseload needs to be successful communicators? Yes, of course I can, and I don’t need to collaborate with students to do that. But, I have learned collaboration does have a valuable place in speech and language therapy. Collaborating with students doesn’t mean letting them choose whatever they want to do, but rather empowering them with information so they can take ownership of their own learning. One of the best ways to empower students is to educate them on their goals and engage them in the goal setting process.
Educating Students on their Goals
Student goals are posted in my classroom in a pocket chart. The blank blue cards have student names on the back. At the beginning of the school year, we spent some time talking about why we come to speech and what our goals are. I had each student write their goals in their own words on red cards that I keep in this pocket chart behind their names. At the beginning of each session, I tell them what we are doing today and ask them to find the goals we are working on. We use photo clips to display their goals next to them on the table during the session to continue to remind them of why we are doing what we are doing. This goal chart was very easy to put together and a template is available as a freebie in my TpT store.
Having Students Track Their Own Data
Another way I’ve been able to increase student engagement and ownership of their learning is by having them track their own data. It has been amazing to see how motivated some of my students are when they know what their goal is and see themselves making progress toward meeting it. I have created some custom graphs for articulation goals, but usually I just use plain old graph paper.
Here one of my students is working on following multi-step directions to complete a task when given visual cues (created with SymbolStix) but no other support. As you can see from his graph paper, he met his goal of completing 4 steps on 3 different occasions. My plan was for him to demonstrate some consistency at the 4-step level and then increase the difficulty of the task by giving him 5-steps. Because he was aware of his goal and motivated to continue improving, he asked me if we could try 5-steps. So, we followed the intervention plan I had all along, but we collaborated and made the decision together!
Here one of my students is working on “r” at the semi-structured conversational level by reading articulation mad-libs and tracking her data on graph paper.
Here one of my students is recording his baseline for a following auditory directions goal. Another great thing about having students track their own data is how easy it makes it for you to report progress! When it comes time to write progress reports and new IEP’s, I have all the data I need!
Student Goal Setting and Speech New Year’s Resolutions
Once students understand their goals and are able to track their own data, I like to get them involved in the goal setting process. Sometimes this means having them break bigger goals down into smaller steps. For example, if a student’s year-long goal is to produce “ch” in conversation with 80% accuracy, but we start by working on “ch” in single words, I might have them set a goal for the single word and sentence levels. Another time I like to have students set goals is when we return from winter break. By this time in the year, they should have a good understanding of what their goals are. However, after a couple weeks off, their memories might need some refreshing. Also, it allows me to teach the concept of a “New Year’s Resolution” and talk about personal goal setting – a valuable life-long skill. This year, I showed this video to some of my younger students who didn’t have any background knowledge on New Year’s resolutions. We made a list of the resolutions the students gave in the video to give them ideas of goals they could set for themselves. For older students, we just brainstormed ideas before they wrote their own resolutions. I had students write both personal and “speech” New Year’s Resolutions. Here are a few of my favorites:
I think my students set some great goals for themselves! What do you think? Do you do goal setting with your students? How do you motivate your students to “buy in” and take ownership of their own learning?
Happy New Year and thanks for reading!