One word visual goals – a powerful form of thinking 8/365

I hate setting SMART targets.

Both for myself and also with the students.

I hate reducing the complexity of learning down to some meaningless sentence that I write down somewhere and then forget about.

The kids goals often end up being more behaviour focused rather than learning focused. Moreover the process of writing often impedes the thinking behind the goal.

Last term I threw out statements in favour of the children using visual goals with just one or two words as their goal.


As a PYP teacher I turned to the learner profile and attitudes for a common language to help articulate their thinking.

The kids used the classroom iPads to create a photograph based on the word they wished to focus on that term.

By creating a photograph the children had to think carefully about the meaning behind the word. They were already visualising themselves as having that quality rather than using words to explain it.

We then used Path On, an app which overlays text onto lines the kids draw over the image, to create the finished product.

The children really enjoyed being able to create high-quality images with a modicum of fuss and the app remains a classroom favourite.


The images were then printed out and placed on the PYP display. Instead of being more visual noise in the room, the display now had a purpose.

Both the kids and I kept referring back to the visuals throughout the term when we felt people were showing growth and also when they needed reminders of their goal.


The simplicity of one word and a visual reminder helped keep that goal alive. While the common language helped the children to articulate the growth.

Next term the challenge will be to create a goal using just shadows. I can’t wait to see what the kids create.

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