Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Let's get S.M.A.R.T.

Goal Setting and Time Management

William Thompson, Diana Gedye, Will Thompson, David Thomas | Published: June 8th, 2022 by K20 Center


Learning to set and work toward goals is an important life skill. In this lesson, students will explore the concepts of goal setting and time management and then apply what they learn while playing the Advance U: Learning Strategies digital game-based learning (DGBL) module, which allows them to experience the impact of both concepts over the course of a simulated school semester.

Essential Question(s)

What are goals and how do I create and reach them?



Students will use the Appointment Clocks strategy to introduce the concept of time management.


Students will play the first few weeks of Advance U: Learning Strategies DGBL module to get an introduction to the characters and initial concepts.


Students will spend some time explaining goal setting in more depth and then practice making some S.M.A.R.T. Goals.


Students will complete their playthrough of Advance U: Learning Strategies.


The Card Sort strategy will help to evaluate students' understanding of the concepts of goal setting and time management.


  • Computers with Internet access or an iPad for each student

  • K20 Game Portal accounts or iPad apps of Advance U: Learning Strategies for each student

  • Whiteboard

  • Writing materials - pen, pencil, paper, etc.

  • Time Management Worksheet (in Attachments)

  • S.M.A.R.T. Goal Worksheet (in Attachments)

  • Goal Card Sort Handout (in Attachments)


Use a variation of the Appointment Clocks strategy to introduce students to the concept of time management. Give each student a "Time Management Worksheet" and have them try to find a partner for each time listed. They cannot schedule two partners in the same time slot. Give them about 10 minutes to do this.

After the 10 minutes is up, ask how many of the students have an empty space still listed on their appointment sheet. Then give them a definition for time management, such as the one below:

Time Management – the ability to organize and plan your activities to effectively use your time to accomplish tasks and reach your goals. Time is a finite resource that must be effectively managed to get the most out of it.


Once your students have been introduced to and started thinking about the concepts, introduce them to the Advance U: Learning Strategies DGBL module. Click here to learn more about the game. It is recommended that you play through the game at least once before teaching with the it so you have a general understanding of the story and the characters your students will encounter as they play.

Have your students play weeks one through eight of the game. This should take them roughly 30-45 minutes. Some students may finish faster than others, depending on how quickly they grasp the concepts and the mechanics of the game.


Now that students have played some of the game, you can start to explore the concepts that it has introduced more deeply. Below are some definitions of those concepts based on the way the game presents them to the students:

  • Goal – A goal is an outcome or accomplishment where we must specifically direct our effort to achieve a result. Goals should have obvious and measurable end results with a clearly defined time frame.

  • Long Term (Distal) Goals – These are bigger-picture objectives that can often take months or even years to accomplish. They require a great deal of time and planning to achieve.

  • Short Term (Proximal) Goals – These goals can be accomplished within a few days or weeks and act as stepping stones, building toward longer term goals.

Once you have covered these basic concepts with your students, start discussing S.M.A.R.T. goals with them. While these are introduced within the framework of the game, discussing them as a class will give you a chance to correct any misconceptions students may have and help them better understand a S.M.A.R.T. goal's purpose. Since there are a number of different variations of the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework, the definitions used within the game are listed below:

S.M.A.R.T. Goals - The S.M.A.R.T. framework is a method used to create effective long and short term goals. Using this framework, goals should always meet the criteria of being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific – The goal should be very clear and answer the questions of what you want to do and how you will accomplish it.

  • Measurable – There should be a clear way of determining if you have met your goal.

  • Achievable – The goal must be something you can actually accomplish.

  • Relevant – The goal must be relevant and related to your other goals.

  • Timely – The goal must have a clear time frame and deadline by which it is to be accomplished.

Now, use the Card Sort strategy to evaluate your students. Form the students into groups using their "Time Management Worksheets." Have each student pair with their 8:00 am partner, and then have each pair form a larger group by pairing with one student's 3:00 pm partner. This should result in several four-person groups. Then, give each group a stack of cards made from the "Goal Card Sort Handout." On the board, write the categories you want students to sort the cards into.

  • Long Term Goals

  • Short Term Goals

  • Non-S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Review how each group sorted their cards and then discuss. Focus on any cards that were sorted into the wrong piles.


After spending some time discussing the Card Sort, have your students go back to playing the Advance U: Learning Strategies DGBL module. They should finish the game this time, playing through the second eight weeks of the game. This should, again, take your students 30-45 minutes.


Now that you have discussed the concepts and your students have played through the entire game, have them practice creating a long- and short-term goal using the "S.M.A.R.T. Goal Worksheet." Once they have created their goals, discuss some of them as a class, focusing on the how they relate to the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework. Allow the class to help improve the goals discussed, as needed.

You can also use this time to correct any misconceptions students may have and reinforce the concepts as needed.