Juggling family, work and community responsibilities is the ultimate challenge in our fast-paced society.  In the high school Family and Consumer Sciences classroom, students are using Mindmeister to apply their value system as they set goals and SMART objectives.  For the first step, they analyze Maslow's hierarchy of human needs and a description of their role models to clarify their value system.  From a beginning node in Mindmeister "MY LIFE", they list the values.  Their goals and objectives are prioritized based on that value system.  Then they brainstorm their goals from a node "DREAMS", in other words, things that they are passionate about now or wish to accomplish in the future.  The next step is to add nodes called, "INDIVIDUAL, FAMILY, CAREER and COMMUNITY."  They drag the goals to the appropriate location.  The most difficult step for high school students is to break the long-term goals into short-term SMART objectives.  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  Mindmeister allows the students to add a "note" to the nodes.  On this note they'll add the objective, which must have a time frame within one month, a cost (if there is one), a specific action, which can realistically be achieved within the time frame, and the resources that are will be used to achieve the goal.  They enjoy adding pictures, graphics, and colors to their Mindmeister maps. Sharing the mindmaps with their classmates and instructor allows them to collaborate not only within their own class, but also with anyone in the school, or for that matter, anyone in the world. Mindmeister, or any other on-line graphic organizer, such as bubbl.us, provides the perfect opportunity for adolescents to critically think about their identity, now and in the future.

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Tags: goal, identity, mind-map, mindmeister, objectives

Comment by Andy Petroski on March 24, 2011 at 12:12pm
How do the students generally respond to using the mind maps?  Do the maps meet the level of reflection that you expect from them?
Comment by Andrea Holtry on March 24, 2011 at 9:43pm
The individual reaction to the mind maps varies.  Some students embrace the tool wholeheartedly, and use it in other situations.  I've even had students use on-line graphic organizers for personal use outside of school.  I'm always pleased to get the comments from other teachers that the students are using Mindmeister in other classes, and showing other students.  Most students generally enjoy the activity and learn how to manipulate objects on the screen very quickly.  However, in reference to the second question, the concept of writing SMART objectives is extremely difficult for high school students.  The high school student that can process this assignment easily is rare.  They can set vague and long-term goals easily, but it's hard work to analyze the goals and break them down into attainable, measurable objectives with a specific timeline for completion.  Evaluating the best resources to use to meet those goals can be equally challenging. Any suggestions to improve the activity?
Comment by Andy Petroski on April 1, 2011 at 8:13am

<They can set vague and long-term goals easily, but it's hard work to analyze the goals and break them down into attainable, measurable objectives with a specific timeline for completion.  Evaluating the best resources to use to meet those goals can be equally challenging.

 

I think you've described most adults too. 8-)

 

You might try having them practice by writing SMART objectives for someone/something else.  I know I find it easier to help other people with goal setting, objective writing versus doing it for myself.  A few different scenarios that I can think of that might work:

 

- Set goals for the classroom, the school, the district or the community . . . based on something they want to change

- Set goals for a pop culture figure (sports star, musician, talk show host, etc.)

- Set goals for a public figure (mayor, senator, governor, president)

- Set goals for a company, maybe related to philanthropy or public support efforts by the organizaton

 

In addition, setting the goals as a group (or several small groups) might allow them to focus on the SMART objective approach.  Maybe they could be in teams of five (5) and each team member is responsible for one part of the S-M-A-R-T.

 

After writing goals for someone else, they might find it easier to write goals for themselves.

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