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Goal Setting Activities for High School

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Whether it's getting to the next level in a video game or achieving your life dreams, goal setting is an important skill for all of us to learn. This lesson contains activity ideas for helping high school students develop their goal setting skills.

Goal Setting Activities

Too often, high school students are simply told what to do and expected to learn from the advice. Have a difficult milestone to reach? Set goals! It's much easier said than done. Students need some practice with the important life skill of setting goals and working toward them. The following activities can be used with high school students to help them hone these skills.

SMART Goal Setting

A great place to start when it comes to teaching the skill of setting goals is to introduce the idea of SMART goals. SMART is a simple acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

If a goal that a student creates meets each of these criteria, it is a reasonable goal and can be directly worked on. Give students an opportunity to think of something simple they would like to achieve, like a higher grade on their next homework assignment or earning enough money to buy something they desire. Then, have them write out one or more SMART goals to get them there. Be sure to give them ample feedback; this is not a simple task!

Backward Goal Setting

This activity can be a good way to get students thinking about goal setting from the perspective of something they have already achieved. First, have students write down one thing they accomplished recently that took some real effort. Examples of this include reaching a record or achievement in a sport, getting a high grade on a test, and being elected to a position in a school club. Then, have students think backward and write down all the steps they took in order to achieve that accomplishment. Once they have this list written down, ask them to start at the beginning and use their list to identify which of the steps could have served as a goal they could have set in order to achieve the ultimate goal. It would then be a good exercise to have student volunteers read their chain of goals out loud and receive feedback from their peers.

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