Thursday, November 15, 2012

Goal Setting and Responsibility: A 4- Part Lesson

Last year I set a goal to have Brooklyn be able to get her Good Canine Citizen award. Well if you spend more than two minutes around my dog you will instantly know we didn't reach our goal. She is a catalyst of bad behavior. So this year my goal has been for her to walk in Nashville's Christmas Parade with other Nashville Pitties.

I always do a lesson on goal setting, but what good is a goal if you aren't organized enough to ensure the  steps are in place to meet it? My goal for Brooklyn was a lofty one, in fact it was too big. So we are reorganizing to reduce the stress of dog and mother. This reorganization made and the stress I put on myself to accomplish made me think about how I could change my lesson on organization.

After a lot of brainstorming and about 5 drafts here is my new lesson for 4th Grade on responsibility and organization:

Lesson 1:

We started with a scavenger hunt. I gave teams either an organized back pack or a messy back pack and a list of items. I started the timer and they were off. Most of the teams with organized back packs finished the scavenger hunt within 2-3 minutes and the teams with messy backpacks anywhere from 4-8 minutes.

They really got into this, especially because I hid stinky socks, cereal, stuffed animals, and toys in the messy backpacks. Next we discussed that if you were organized that would save you about 2 minutes per day, just enough time to recheck your work, 14 mintues in a week, enough time to read a chapter or two in your new favorite book, and about 56 minutes a month, enough time to watch an entire episode of their favorite Disney show.

We ended with a pre-test of work habits so they could identify what they specifically need to improve on.

Lessons 2/3:

We talked about responsibility and what it means. We watched the video "I Can Do It! Taking Responsibility"  which shows the students different scenarios and allows us time to stop and discuss each one.

Next we charted what kinds of responsibilities they had in 4th grade.

We then role played different responsibilities (the examples are from AIM Education) and in teams practiced what we would do. For example:

A new movie you and your best friend are dying to see has just opened up, and your friends wants the two of you to see it this Saturday. The trouble is, your science project is due on Monday, and you and your project partner agreed you would spend Saturday gathering plants in the park. What should you do?

At the end of each skit we talked about the different feelings that come with responsibility: stress, disappointment, frustration, etc.

That lead us to the postcard activity. I laid several postcards around the room each with a different picture on it. I asked the students to (in silence) find a card that represented how they feel about starting fourth grade and the new responsibilities they are taking on.

When everyone had a card we broke into small groups and shared the card we choose and why.

Next I asked everyone to set 3 goals for themselves:
1) Something they could accomplish this week.
2) Something they could accomplish in the next 2 months. (I like to remind them of their work habits pre test here)
3) Something they wanted to accomplish by the end of this school year.

We then shared our goals with our small group and then with the entire class. I collected the cards and will give them to our students in two months with a personal check in note written on each.

**In the past I have done this icebreaker with my faculty and with 6th grade. They filled out the card like an actual postcard and I mailed it to their homes half way through the year.

Lesson 4:

We continue our talk of responsibility and stress.

First in groups they draw what it feels like to be stressed. Then each group shares and we look for similarities that we all have.

Next we watch the Brain Pop on stress and at the end they go back to their drawings and surround themselves with things they can do to help alleviate their stress.

To finish our series we take the same work habits post test and see if we have improved!

Since I only see this grade once a month this 4 part series starts in Sept and ends at Christmas break. Before I know it the sleigh bells are ringing!


  1. I really like your idea of the backpacks & organization. Great way to demonstrate efficiency and time management -- and of course kids love a challenge so I'm sure it was a hit!

    1. Thanks so much! It was, we had lots of fun.

  2. I love this idea and lesson! I am interested in the pre and post test you used for the work habits. The link takes me to a page that says "We're sorry the page you are looking for can't be found.? Would you mind emailing me the pre and post tests if you have them available? Thank you so much for all these great ideas and resources! I love your blog
    my email is

  3. Laura,
    I LOVE this lesson and think it's a great way to "hit home" with my students about the importance of being responsible. However, I cannot get the pre and post tests to open correctly. Would you be able to email them to me at
    Your help is greatly appreciated!

  4. I'd love the pre/post test as well!!!

    1. Hi guys, since they took down our last school sites I added the survey on survey monkey you can access it here:

      Hope it helps.

  5. Hi guys, since they took down our last school sites I added the survey on survey monkey you can access it here:

    Hope it helps.