Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Didn't See That Coming

Teresa Lansford, Shayna Pond, Lindsey Link | Published: September 16th, 2022 by K20 Center


Surprises and roadblocks can keep us from accomplishing our goals on time. In this lesson, students will learn how to consider what could become roadblocks to completing a task and how to build a calendar to stay on track and to minimize surprises.

Essential Question

How can we use calendars to stay on track and to avoid the roadblocks that keep us from our goals?

Learning Goals

  • Analyze problems that are likely to keep a task from being completed.

  • Determine solutions for dealing with roadblocks when planning a task.

  • Evaluate calendar plans for what worked and what can be improved.

Materials List

  • Activity Slides (attached)

  • Roadblock Sort (attached; one per pair of students)

  • Sample Calendar (attached; one per student)

  • Planning Calendar (optional; attached; one per student)

  • Highlighters (four colors per student)

  • Internet-connected device

  • Google Calendar access

  • Pencil


10 Minute(s)

Begin the activity by displaying the title slide from the attached Activity Slides.

Display slides 3–4 and share the essential questions and learning objectives with students to the extent you feel necessary.

Move to slide 5. Using the Google Chrome web browser, have students visit chrome://dino/ and give them time to play a few rounds. When they are done, ask:

  • Was it hard when surprise obstacles popped up?

  • How did you feel when the game started to speed up?

  • How did you feel when you hit a roadblock?

Remind students that, like in the game, unexpected roadblocks and problems are part of life, but planning can help us see the whole road ahead so that we can manage them more effectively when unexpected obstacles appear.


10 Minute(s)

Display slide 6 and share the instructional strategy Card Sort with students. Pass out the attached Roadblock Sort activity to pairs of students and instruct them to sort the roadblocks into one of two categories: NEAR or FAR.

  • NEAR: A roadblock that needs to be addressed immediately.

  • FAR: A roadblock that will not stop your progress right now.

When students have completed their Card Sort, have them share out why they sorted certain cards together.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 7. Share that a calendar helps us see things that are coming up that we may need to avoid or workaround to be successful. It also helps us uncover clear paths where we could take time to focus and make progress on goals.

Move to slide 8. Share the instructional strategy Categorical Highlighting with students and pass out the attached Sample Calendar. Instruct students to categorize the events into one of the following groups:

  • Pink: Focus Time

  • Blue: Breaks

  • Green: Time on Task

  • Yellow: Solving a Problem

After they have had time to highlight, move to slide 9 and instruct them to work with an Elbow Partner and compare their highlighting. Ask pairs to share things they had in common and what they had viewed differently.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 10 and instruct students to write down their own upcoming roadblocks and determine which category they could be sorted into: NEAR or FAR?

Move to slide 11 and share the linked video with students on how to create an event in their Google Calendar: "Creating an Event in Google Calendar."

Use slides 12 or 13 to have students plan their upcoming tasks depending on whether they have access to Google Calendar or not. If they don't, pass out the attached Calendar Template. Have them write down their own upcoming roadblocks.

Ask: Are there blocks of free time you could use to complete a task or focus on an assignment? Ask them to use the calendar to reserve that time now by adding focus time and what they hope to focus on. Remind students that planning isn't just for work. They need to make sure to give themselves rest time too. What are some times you could set aside to relax and refresh where you know upcoming tasks or roadblocks won't interrupt your fun?

Make sure the next week of the calendar has time scheduled for work and play. Try out following the calendar to discuss next time.


10 Minute(s)

Use slide 14 to have students reflect on their calendars. Ask the following questions:

  • How did planning help to get tasks done?

  • How did planning help to make sure you had time to relax?

Explain to students that planning makes sure we have a good mix of both. Be sure students have something planned in the coming week.

Research Rationale

Regardless of the focus of the extracurricular activity, club participation can lead to higher grades (Durlak et al., 2010; Fredricks & Eccles, 2006; Kronholz, 2012), and additional benefits are possible when these clubs explore specific curricular frameworks. Club participation enables students to acquire and practice skills beyond a purely academic focus. It also affords them opportunities to develop skills such as self-regulation, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking (Allen et al., 2019). When structured with a strong curricular focus, high school clubs can enable participants to build the critical social skills and "21st-century skills" that better position them for success in college and the workforce (Allen et al., 2019; Durlak et al., 2010; Hurd & Deutsch, 2017). Supportive relationships between teachers and students can be instrumental in developing a student's sense of belonging (Pendergast et al., 2018; Wallace et al., 2012), and these support systems enable high-need, high-opportunity youth to establish social capital through emotional support, connection to valuable information resources, and mentorship in a club context (Solberg et al., 2021). Through a carefully designed curriculum that can be implemented within the traditional club structure, students stand to benefit significantly as they develop critical soft skills.