Learning any new concept is usually accomplished more efficiently when clear goals are set and worked towards. And even more importantly, success feels really good when we set out to accomplish a goal and meet it. This concept is not a new one, and as a teacher, it is fun to find creative ways to teach even the youngest learners how to set and accomplish both long term and short term learning goals.
In math this year, my 2nd and 3rd grade students have been discovering that learning is a journey. Specifically, a journey that is not always easy. We are using an online program called Accelerated Math which assigns students math skills at their working level. They must master a skill by demonstrating that they can do it independently before moving onto the next skill. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, as my students have found out, it isn’t. Sometimes, the skills they are assigned are very difficult, and they do not know how to independently complete them the first time. Despite my reassurance that being unsuccessful the first time just means that we need to practice, some of my students were extremely defeated by the journey that I was asking them to take. Motivating them was becoming increasingly difficult and frustration levels were at an all time high. So, after some thought, I knew that each student needed to set an attainable short term goal in order for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to also give us a benchmark to celebrate success throughout such a difficult journey.
After conferencing with students about goal setting, we decided to create math rockets to document our progress on our goals that we set. Each student has a rocket with the number of boxes for the number of skills they want to master before the end of the quarter. When they master a skill, they get to color in a box. Once they have colored in all the boxes on their rocket, it means that they have successfully completed their goal. I explained to students, that when people meet a goal, it is appropriate to celebrate and even reward ourselves for all of our hard work. Each student was able to pick how they wanted to reward themselves when they make their goal. Some students chose to give themselves 10 minutes of free time, others wanted to pick a prize from our classroom treasure box, and some wanted the option to use the IPAD instead of the computer for a day. It was amazing to see how excited my students were to get started, and when they came across a difficult skill, how motivated they were to keep practicing in order to be able to color in a box on their rocket.
Since starting this new journey, many of my students have already completed their first rocket goal and are now working on a team rocket. I notice a larger amount of perseverance and determination in my students, and it is evident that they don’t view the journey as being quite so treacherous anymore. In the words of one of my third graders, “Making my rocket goal feels really good!”
|He is soooo excited to make his rocket goal!|