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Teacher: Mark Housel who teaches at Forest Avenue School in Glen Ridge, NJ. Mark Housel can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Reach For The Stars

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To build student self-esteem through goal setting.

Suggested Grade Level: K-12

Reach For The Stars

Reach for the stars is a self-esteem building program. Each student is sent home an "I Can..." list and a letter to each parent explaining what the program is all about. The "I Can" list consists of 10 different things that each student can do (i.e., I can... jump, run, hike, read, make my bed, ride a bike, make friends, sleep). They complete their list and bring them to me. I compile a master list and hang up all of the "I Can's" around the gym.

Last year we came up with over 230 "I Can's". These lists will come in handy later.

The second phase is done with my 2nd and 3rd graders. These students now come up with two things that they CAN'T do, but would like to or something that they would like to do better. One of these things must be something which can be practiced in Physical Education class (i.e., juggling, jumping rope, hula hooping, walking backwards on a balance beam). The other can be anything that they would like that can be practiced at home (i.e., playing the piano, riding a bike). We then talk about goal setting and why it is important to set goals. Then each student comes up with a measurable goal and is given 5-10 minutes at the end of every other class in order to reach their goal.

Because I can't be in every part of the gym at once to count or time each goal attempt, the students are each given a witness sheet. The witness sheet is designed so that the students can monitor each other. Once the student is done practicing they must round up two classmates to witness their attempt. If a goal is reached, the witnesses sign the sheet and bring it to me. A witness sheet is also sent home. This gives us a good chance to talk about honesty and trustworthiness. "Does a record mean much if it is embellished?" This is an excellent way to get the students working cooperatively and encouraging each other.

Each time a student reaches a goal, a star is put up on the wall of the gym displaying the students name and the goal they were reaching for. Once the students reach their first goal, they are encouraged to set the next one a little higher.

For the students who have trouble reaching their goal but are working hard towards it, their is a bulletin board that reads "We Are Reaching For The Stars". It has a star with their name and their goal. This also gives us a chance to talk about short term and long term goals. Lets say a student sets a goal of jumping rope 10x's without stopping, but hasn't even been able to do it 5x's. 10x's will still be the long term goal, but now 5x's will be the short term goal. Short term goals earn stars too!

Lastly, when the students frustration level gets too high, I take out those handy "I Can..." lists so that the students can be reminded of all the things they can do. Sometimes it is important to take a step back and appreciate all the things that you can do no matter what age you are!

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Posted on PEC: 10/7/2001 and has received 81 votes.

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