Setting targets in group based activities.

Pupils respond enthusiastically to target settings particularly in practical lessons or in group based activities. It takes a bit of effort but if you can look through your mark book and observation notes from practical lessons and set each pupil an individual target you can clearly see progress. A nice added touch is to put said target into a small envelope with the pupils name on it and leave it sitting at their workstation. If you want to link it directly to grades or levels then you can also put their current grade and target grade on the sheet. The idea is to use it as a starter and pupils get excited when they see the envelop with their name on it. They also take it very seriously and work diligently in that lesson to achieve that target.

I tried this once with a class who I was struggling to get to work effectively in groups during 1 hour practical lessons. A number of boys were very loud and just really wanted to have a laugh in food practical lessons, they struggled to focus on the task in hand. I applied this target setting activity to a practical lesson. Pupils were asked to make a pasta based dish called Penne Arrabbiata; a recipe which is also very popular with teenagers.I find boys in particular are keen to eat it afterwards, asking to borrow forks to eat it at lunchtime. A good sign I think!

I was amazed at how this normally difficult class responded to this target setting activity. The noise level in my lesson that day reduced dramatically, groups were trying harder to cooperate and take turns to do certain activities and to listen to each other. They also responded very positively to my input when I asked them how they were planning to achieve their target and as positive reinforcement was given you could see the pride in their faces.

Here are some example of the targets I set some of my pupils:

Name ____________
Current Level/Grade New Target Level/Grade
Focus today on following your planning sheet carefully and encourage your team to manage your time effectively

Name ______________
Current Level/Grade Target Level Level/Grade
Please focus on your listening skills today. Help your team to follow your plans to achieve a attractively finished dish.

Name ______________
Current Level/Grade New Target Level/Grade
Focus on encouraging your team to keep an eye on the clock and make sure you cook food for appropriate times. Try to help your team solve any problems they encounter.

Here is a link to the lesson plan and power-point I used for that particular lesson.

I find when I go to the effort of setting personalized targets the pupils really respond as they themselves can see how them improve from week to week. On occasions I also ask pupils to set their own target at the beginning of the lesson based on their performance in the previous lesson. For more able pupils , I try to set them a target that is going to challenge them and put them outside of their comfort zone.

Like all target setting activities it is important to set time aside to reflect on how they met or did not meet the target of that lesson and this can be done through verbal questioning, a plenary worksheet or as a homework activity.

Feel free to comment or email me at if you would like to discuss this blog further.

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