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Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Ideas & Giveaway

Well, Christmas break is coming to a close and it's time to prepare for going back to the classroom. Most of my students have been spending their break sleeping in, playing video games, and hanging out with their friends. Very few (if any) have spent anytime looking back at the past year or looking forward to the year ahead of them. 

Goal setting is not an automatic skill with middle schoolers but it an essential life skill. Most students get overwhelmed with goal setting because they focus on the goal and it's overwhelming. It doesn't occur to them that breaking the goal down into steps makes it all less scary and easier to attain each step along the way. It's less stressful to be working toward the big goal by achieving the steps. This allows them success with long-term goals and showing the importance of short-term goals through the process. Students need to be taught the process of goal setting, including breaking the goal into smaller, manageable steps and creating a timeline to achieve the goal. 

My students struggle with both goal setting and assessing progress towards those goals. So the start of a new year is the perfect chance to offer practice with these life skills. One way I do this is using my Looking Forward Looking Back activity. This activity does two things: 

1. It prompts students to look back at the past year and reflect on their hits and their misses. They are asked to talk about their proudest moment and the best part of the past year. They are also asked to reflect on something they would change from the past year and talk about how they would change it for the better. 

2. It prompts students to look forward to the new year and practice goal setting. Some sections offer fun, creative ways to put down on paper things they would like to do during the upcoming year (places they would like to go, experiences they would like to have). But there are also in-depth, real life examples of the goal setting process that students must work through. They are asked to come up with two resolutions for the new year (one for home and one for school) and then they must take that resolution (goal) and break it into manageable steps. This not only lets them practice goal setting, which I feel is the easier portion of the process, but it pushes them to break down the long-term goal into smaller short-term goals (or steps) to help them work toward their goal. It is more likely that their long-term goals will be kept if they also create short-term goals that they can attain to keep them motivated to stay on track. 

You may download my Looking Forward Looking Back activity by clicking here

Feel free to look at my other New Year's products in my TpT store while you are there. 

Happy New Year!!

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