This brief project, which is perfect for returning to school in January after the new year has begun, highlights the importance of setting goals that can be measured and broken down into smaller pieces to allow for daily or weekly assessment of whether one is on track to meet an annual goal by the end of the year.
Students are given a brief background on goals, then given 7 steps to complete for this project. They choose a goal (it does not need to be an academic goal) and decide how they will quantify that goal (should it be measured in minutes, points, inches, # of successful attempts, etc.?). They then calculate approximately what this quantity was for the previous year before setting an annual goal for how much more/less they will need by the end of this year. They calculate a percent increase or percent decrease, compared to last year, and decide upon a piece-by-piece way to measure their goal (In order to meet my annual goal by the end of the year, how many minutes of practice do I need each day or week, how many points do I need to score on each assignment, how many baskets do I need to make each practice? etc...).
Finally, they begin working on the end product of this project, which is a mini poster telling what their goal for this year is (both in words and as an annual quantity), what percent increase/decrease this is compared to last year, and what they would need to accomplish each day/week/practice/assignment/etc. to meet their annual goal.
Mathematically speaking, this project encourages critical thinking and problem solving, as students must figure out how to take information like "I practice three times a week for 45 minutes each time, but only during the school year" and make a reasonable estimate of how many hours or minutes they practice in an entire year. Students are also able to use math in their own lives to figure out whether or not they are on track for accomplishing their goals that matter to them. This project gives them a way to think about making calculations, not just for assignments and tests, but for something they find to be important in their own world.
This pdf file contains both a student handout page that gives directions and the steps necessary for completing the project, as well as a page with 3 copies of the grading rubric that I use for this project.
I usually have students brainstorm 3 or 4 personal goals for the year (often as bell work) before handing this page out. I give students the opportunity to share one or more of their goals, then I pass out the student page and talk through each step using a different student's goal, emphasizing how they can quantify/measure various types of goals.