Did you know that "life skills" can be specifically taught?
Self-direction is one of those skills. Teaching self-direction can be as simple as modeling the use of a calendar, personal notebook and checklist of tasks. Be sure that your students each have access to a collective task calendar as well as their own set of journals for note taking. Verbalize when you or a student is using the calendar and when the proposed task will be complete. Explicitly sharing this experience physically shows your students how to set goals and stay on track.
This photo is a snippet of a calendar my students kept on our classroom bulletin board. They would set monthly goals for their project and choose a date they would like to have this completed by. From there, they delegated tasks and put the wheels in motion. When “due date” came, they either experienced success in completing their goal, or had to reflect on why their goal was not met and experience the feeling of failure. An active calendar like this is a great lesson in self-direction and motivation to do better next time.
To learn more about teaching self-direction and other "life skills", visit the SCHOOL CITIZENSHIP page on Teach With Science.