The Bridge School
Self-Determination Program

Activity 1: Defining Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Learning terms and concepts: Students explore characteristics of short-term and long-term goals and learn to differentiate between them through a variety of on-line and discussion activities.


Students gain exposure to short-term and long-term goals set by other students their age and get practice differentiating between them.


Students review the characteristics of a goal as something someone wants to work toward achieving in a specified length of time. As a way to personalize this, the students think of something they want to achieve when they get home that afternoon as an example of a short-term goal. The mentor shares an example of how she identified a goal and broke it down into achievable short-term objectives (Climbing the Mountain activity from Steps to Self-Determination). Students then discuss something they want to achieve over the course of the school year as an example of a long-term goal.

Students then explore a wide variety of goals posted by adolescent students on the, "It's My Life" website. Students and mentors discuss the goals and determine which goals fit the criteria for a short-term goal and which goals fit the criteria for a long-term goal.


  • Students access the internet with their speech-generating devices using computer interface hardware and text-to-speech software that reads aloud web pages.
  • During the discussion portion of the activity, students can generate their responses using their speech-generating devices, or they can use partner-assisted strategies with communication boards.