Video 4: How to Set Effective Goals for ELLs – Continued

Let's put this idea into practice.

In the previous video (click here if you missed it), we came up with a clear, concrete and manageable goal for the first day teaching the present simple tense.

Here is the goal:

"My students each need to be able to say 3 positive, present simple tense sentences without mistakes."

Now that we have such a clear goal, we can break it up into actionable steps.

  • Give the students 3 positive sentences in the present simple tense (write them on the board, give them a print-off, etc).
  • Practice the 3 sentences together as a class.
  • Practice the 3 sentences independently or in small groups.
  • When a student is ready, that student comes to the teacher and says the 3 sentences individually and without help.
  • If they can do it, they are done. If not, they need to go back and keep practicing.

Every student can achieve the goal of saying 3 sentences, even if some of them need a little more time than others. It’s not 10 or 15 sentences; it’s 3. And by the end of the class, not only has has each student said those sentences many, many times, solidifying the sentence structure, but you have also checked in with each student individually to make sure they can do it.

Here are 3 steps for helping your ESL students achieve your clear, concrete and manageable goals.

  1. Do it together as a class
  2. Do it in small groups/partners
  3. Do it individually

Start with the class as a whole, getting everyone to practice sentences or answer questions in unison.

Move on quickly to small groups or pair work. 

When ready, each student comes to you to show mastery of the learning objective for the class. If they can do it, they pass. If not, they keep practicing until they can.

If your goal is clear, concrete, manageable and testable, all of your students will be able to accomplish it.

If you check in individually, you will have personally confirmed that each student has mastered the material for the day.

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