When the new marking period begins, I have students reflect upon their report cards, then write four goals for the next quarter on four different star cut-outs. Two goals must be academic — something they want to improve upon at school. One is a social goal, related to how they get along with others. The final is a personal goal, which is something they want to do for themselves, like spending more time with younger siblings or cleaning their rooms without being told. Each goal must be specific, realistic, and include a plan of action. For academics, an appropriate goal might read, I will read at least 15 minutes a night, 5 times a week; or, I will raise my hand for class discussions at least once each day. Keep your students away from general goals such as I will try to be nicer or I will get better at math. I actually ban the use of the word try in a goal because it doesn't show a strong commitment. Also, I insist that the goals are positive, stating what students will do, instead of what they will not do.

After the stars are completed, students decorate them. We use nylon fishing line to attach them to each other and students hang them mobile-style over their desks. Once they're hung, the goals are not forgotten. Once every 2 weeks a morning journal prompt asks students to write about the progress they have been making toward their goals.