K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Helpful hint

This lesson works particularly well at the start of the school year in August.

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Related pages

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  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 1 (setting goals ): This series of lessons is designed to help develop a sense of classroom community. Group goal-setting, brainstorming, peer feedback, group decision-making, positive reinforcement, and positive peer pressure are used to create a safe, supportive environment for learning in the classroom.

    In Part 1, students are introduced to the goal-setting process. They will practice the first step of the process as they set individual and class behavioral goals.
  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 2 (cooperative planning): This series of lessons is designed to help develop a sense of classroom community through use of group goal-setting, decision-making, brainstorming, peer feedback, positive reinforcement, and positive peer pressure. The lessons will help students create and maintain a supportive environment for learning. Part 1 focused on goal-setting process and practice. In Part 2, students will apply knowledge of the goal-setting process by cooperatively creating a plan to work on group goals.

Related topics


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Learning outcomes

  • Seventh-grade students will learn the importance of setting goals, and record short- and long-term goals to complete during the school year.
  • Eighth-grade students will understand the value of setting goals instead of just letting things happen, as well as record several goals to complete during the school year.

Teacher planning


Technology resources

  • Eighth-grade students will need to create a login on the CFNC website in order to complete all activities.


Activity for seventh-grade students

  1. Hand out the “Goal Setting” activity sheet.
  2. Invite volunteers to answer the question, “What are some choices that you have had to make recently?” Tell students that these could include choices about how to spend their time, choices about how to behave, or choices about activities that they are planning to do in the future.
  3. Ask a volunteer to answer the “Imagine you are a builder…” prompt in the activity. Request that a second volunteer read the rest of the text on the page and invite students to discuss the meaning of the quote, “Today’s choices are the foundation for tomorrow’s options.”
  4. Compare the students’ examples of choices with the samples that are listed in the activity. Ask a student to read the paragraph that starts with, “One key to making good choices…”
  5. Tell students to complete the “What Do You Want?” section in the activity, which asks them to create a plan for accomplishing two goals. Remind students to record the “By when?” dates in their calendar. If there is time in the lesson for students to create more than two goals they can make a list on another piece of paper.
  6. Ask students to share one goal that they have for the future with either the entire class or a small group. Encourage students to describe why it will be beneficial to accomplish this goal.

Activity for eighth-grade students

  1. Hand out “A Visit to the Fortune Teller” activity sheet.
  2. Tell students the following: “Welcome to the 8th grade! You are only one year away from high school, so this year we will be using these activities to help you pick the right classes for grades 9-12, prepare for college or other training after high school, and start thinking about careers. To help you accomplish these goals, you will also learn to use the online resources on CFNC.org, including the ‘High School Planning’ page located under the ‘My CFNC’ tab or in the ‘Plan for High School’ page under the ‘Plan’ tab.”
  3. Ask a volunteer to read the introduction of the fortune-teller activity aloud.
  4. Working in small groups, students should complete the activity (what they will become, where they will live, hobbies, etc.) individually and share their results with their fellow group members.
  5. Have some student volunteers reveal their “fortunes.” Discuss how well these fortunes fit with their current career goals.
  6. Read the section “Thinking about Your Future” aloud and have students offer suggestions of choices that shape people’s lives to write in the spaces provided.
  7. Direct students to the Career-O-Matic found on the right side of the Explore Careers page and allow them to spin a couple times for some funny examples of careers. From here, lead students into the real career options. Explain how real careers need real preparation, then transition into the topic of the necessity of goal setting for the career you want.
  8. Have students write down two goals for the coming year and the steps it will take to get there. Explain how these simple goal-setting exercises can form good habits that will influence their career success. If they have more than two goals, they can make a list on another piece of paper.
  9. Ask students to imagine their lives five years from now. What will they be doing? Where will they be? How do they plan to get there? Most things in life won’t just happen: you won’t just fall into a great college and you probably won’t just be randomly offered an awesome job. If you want these things, it will take some preplanning and goal setting. College means getting good grades in high school, taking entrance tests, and filling out applications. Good jobs take good grades, professional resumes, impressive applications, successful job interviews, in addition to a lot of effort and time. Suggest to students that they should start thinking early about what they want and how they should make goals to get them to where they want to be. Given this information, have students write a one-page reflection paper on their five-year plan.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Independent

        • EI.CR.1 Understand the meaning and importance of career self-awareness and career goals. EI.CR.1.1 Demonstrate knowledge of the career-planning process and its relationship to one's self-awareness and goals. EI.CR.1.2 Analyze your career plan and goals in...
        • EI.CR.4 Understand the connection among attendance, collaboration, course selection, grades, grade point average, undergraduate admission, career expectations, and life goals. EI.CR.4.1 Re-evaluate your educational plan to support appropriate career goals,...
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.1 Understand the meaning and importance of career self-awareness and career goals. P.CR.1.1 Explain how personal skills, interests, and abilities relate to current career plans. P.CR.1.2 Develop a competency plan in your chosen career areas. P.CR.1.3...
        • P.CR.4 Understand the connection among attendance, collaboration, course selection, grades, grade point average, undergraduate admission, career expectations, and life goals. RED.CR.4.1 Compare the effects of personal and academic decisions upon career goals...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Guidance (2001)

Grade 6–8

  • Goal 2: Complete school with the academic preparation essential to choose from a wide variety of the substantial post-secondary options, including college.
    • Objective 2.07: Apply knowledge of aptitudes and interests to establish challenging academic goals.
  • Goal 4: Acquire the skills to investigate the world of work in relation to knowledge of self and to make informed career decisions.
    • Objective 4.03: Demonstrate the importance of planning.
  • Goal 8: Make decisions, set goals, and take appropriate action to achieve goals.
    • Objective 8.08: Calculate long and short term goals.
    • Objective 8.11: Develop an action plan to set and achieve realistic goals.