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First Grade Learns an Important Lesson on Setting Targets

Tanya Olander

Zip-lining, using a bow and arrow, and crossing a rope bridge are just some of the thrilling ways first graders chose to practice setting targets during their first field trip of the year.

As part of their Super Unit, “Understanding Ourselves - Target Practice,” first graders have been learning how to set and reach targets, exploring the concept of a growth mindset. 

Students giggle as first-grade teacher Ms. Sana Abbas asks them if they could walk when they were babies. A resounding “no” fills the classroom. “That’s right, you couldn’t walk yet,” Ms. Sana, as the students call her, tells the class “but you kept trying, getting a little better each day, and look where you are now!”

The Power of Yet

The word “yet” is a powerful tool in helping children learn the life-long lesson of setting and accomplishing their targets, says Ms. Sana. 

“Consider the difference between ‘I can’t cross a rope ladder’ and ‘I can’t cross a rope ladder, yet,” she shares. “Yet” is a simple but powerful word. It supports learners in developing a growth mindset.

boy with arms outstretched atop a climbing structure

Students feel joy and pride when they realize that the more they practice, the closer they are to their targets. Who doesn't remember the joy of climbing higher than you thought you could?

So before setting off on their field trip, students set goals for which activities they’d like to try at the outdoor exploratory park, Tinkerplay. Once there, the only prompt is to “go try,” and students also reflect on how they feel when taking the next step. 

Some of the many things students tried are captured in this fun video from their day at Tinkerplay. 

“Practice helps me improve” is the enduring understanding students are meant to take away from this unit, learning that through targeted practice it is possible to reach your goals. 

Healthy and Safe Independent Choices

When, one day, as part of the unit's emphasis on making healthy independent choices, a teacher walks into the classroom eating a sugary snack, students react within seconds: “That’s not good for you,” “You shouldn’t eat sugar,” and “You’re not making a healthy choice,” are just some of their spontaneous reactions.
 
And these are just the reactions Ms. Sana and the other Grade 1 teachers are hoping for. Coming to these conclusions on their own can have a huge impact on students and it allows teachers to gauge how much the students already know. Using the students’ own words, Ms. Sana is able to capture their attention and introduce an in-depth and interactive lesson on making healthy choices.

first grade students sit on floor as teacher explains poster on whiteboard

Grade 1 students in Ms. Sana's class reflect on ways to keep our bodies healthy.

By the end of their “Target Practice” Super Unit, students in Grade 1 will have gained more confidence and independence. They will understand why we set goals and why it is important to try new things and they will have the confidence to make healthy choices. And best of all, they will have discovered it mostly on their own. We can’t wait to celebrate what they have learned about these valuable life skills!

Thank you to Sana Abbas and Patty Walton who contributed to this story and to teacher Craig Armitt for the wonderful video!

Learn more about Super Units on our website.

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