Choice is so important, Heather. I think that at the start of trying to reach a student who seems to be unmotivated it is critical to find out what their likes and interests are. Giving a range of options allows a student to have a sense of control over their learning and gives them a chance to work at something they like, which will encourage greater effort and likely lead to more success. It is often that fear of failure and sense of disconnect from school and learning that contribiutes to these students' lack of motivation. It is critical to get them back on board by reaching out to them with choice and tasks that lead to success early on.
Maybe a combination of using technology to the utmost,humer and gamesmanship could be added to the list.
1-Use only the most productive teachers at every grade level to teach the class presented in an on line multimedia form. This will free up the time of other teachers that might be actually moving children to a lower ability by not understanding their needs. They would be used as technology aides. This could be done nationally, statewide or citywide.
2- The monetary savings would be used to give every child an e-reader or similar computer tablet. These are about $50 bucks in some countries and would cost even less if produced in more volume. No more cumbersome books. No more wasted paper. Upload new ones, delete old ones. Sites like Books Should Be Free, and other similar ones should be encouraged. Kids could also watch the multimedia courses (produced from #1) as many times as they need, rerun as often as they wish. See "Khan Academy" online for a simplified example.
3-Mike Hayes (above) seems to have a knack for making learning fun. The humerous portions of his methods and hundreds of other teachers) should be combined in the format.
4-99% of children love to play games. Wii, Playstation, Xbox, etc programmers and developers should be brought in to make the learning competetive and fun. Tricking the children into learning should be a major part of any teacher's toolbox.
5-Let them take a look at online classes from the world's best universities. Many are now putting them up for free viewing and including textbook downloads. These allow children to grow regardless of their background or parental income level. Using and developing sites like "big shot camera" (for example) which allow children from hundreds of countries to converse (80 language multilingual) while doing "hands on" learning.
6-Keep an eye on the newer design of worldwide manufacturing facilities and share with the children. Show the various types of robots that are being used around the world. This massive use of robotics will continue on a larger scale. The jobs that used to be available for those that were unmotivated or who teachers failed to reach are disappearing rapidly.
7-As harsh as it seems, some of the "scared straight" type programs might be a good suggestion for some of the harder core cases. These people seem to understand how to break through the psychological barriers of the unmotivated. Every child has thier own way of understanding.
Wow! There are some great suggestions here. After teaching for 30 years, I have found they boil down to just two main thoughts you must remember each day you walk into class. Number 1, and it is a big NUMBER ONE, ALWAYS BRING JOY TO YOUR CLASSROOM. Handle discipline with humor, they will catch on and respond in kind. The second thought you must always keep in mind, even for yourself is that the brain loves variety!!!. Keep the good labs, plans, and ideas, but always find new ones. I have older students and when they ask for extra credit, I tell them to go online and research some possible new biology labs we could do in class. Whoops! They're getting interested in science, and now it is THEIR science if we do the lab! Sometimes I ask them to research a children's book that relates to the science topic we are studying...there are a million ideas...VARIETY...it's a good thing!
At my school site, we use a "big buddy" system to help at risk students improve academically and behaviorally. In this system, a student is assigned to a staff member. It this the staff member's responsibility to track their grades, completion of work, and test prep. The staff is asked to check in at least once a week with their student and encourage and reward all progress. I have seen the success with this method because it does make the student feel that someone cares about their academic success and future.
I love the writing prompt of "Why do we need to read and write?" Iwould love to get inside the heads of some of the more apathetic kids. I had a bit of a run-in with one of the at-rick kids at my school this week and discovered that no matter how challenging he can be in the classroom, it seems that I bet his challenges at home are worse. I decided to make evey hour period that I have him in my class a time of positive learning.
I do agree that rigor needs to be kept high. After learning about Organic Chemistry we had a concluding discussion about the meat industry and the use of hormones and other harmful practices. This real-world discussion seemed to "wake-up" some of the students and get them engaged again. If they can see how a certain subjects is effective in 2012 and in some innovative way, then they show more interest.
Although I have trouble motivating the unmotivated like other teachers, I have discovered that the number of students who complete their homework each week varies not by the difficulty of the assignment, but by the “fun factor” or interest generated by the assignment. I teach science and when I assign a simple “take-home lab”, nearly every one of my 146 students does their homework. For example, after introducing the concept of density, my students were instructed to fill a sink or bowl with water and find at least ten objects or substances that are denser than water and ten objects that are less dense than water. They were to list the objects on a table and make a diagram showing the twenty objects in the container of water. For extra credit points they could bring in the most interesting or surprising object to share with their class. Next week we will be comparing the density of different liquids in class and then extend the learning at home. The parents even get involved in these “take-home labs” and have fun doing science with their kids. It’s simple, yet effective.
I have been struggling with this all year in one of my classes. The students are motivated in class and fail to attempt their homework. I started making our class pets a reward to motivate. I tried both positive and negative rewards. I tried getting parents involved, but no success so far. I will try some of these ideas including the "fun factor". Thank you.
How do you motivate the unmotivated? is a topic that is back in the news.
This eSchool News article, How can schools better motivate students? by Meris Stansbury (June 7, 2012) states there are four dimensions of motivation: competence, control/autonomy, interest/value, and relatedness.
Surprise! No single strategy will work to motivate all students. Strategies should be implemented thoughtfully, and schools alone can not motivate students.
Reflect on the "difficult" student(s) you have had in your classroom over the years. How did you motivate the unmotivated student?
Hi Jane Brown,
I cannot read the article because you have to login to read articles on the eSchool News website.
I usually find out the unmotivated student's interests, favorite subjects, learning abilities, and learning styles. Then I alternate the activities and lessons covered based on their interests.
I had a reluctant reader who liked reading about historical women like Rosa Parks. Before I showed her the Time For Kids Biography Book on Rosa Parks she was not willing to read too much. I did a lot of paired reading with her. While reading the Rosa Parks book she read more and more herself.
1. Try to appeal to student interests.
2. Use variety in lessons, activities and assignments to keep things interesting.
3. Incorperate technology into lessons, and choose materials and activities that appeal to a variety of learning styles.
4. Take time to get to know students and let them know you care about them as a person.
5. Smile and have a good sense of humor. If the teacher does not enjoy the class, why should the kids?
Our school tried a new program this year to reach our unmotivated students that was very successful. Students who were missing assignments or who scored less than 70% on an assignment or assessment were required to stay at the after school homework center until the work was complete and correct. The center was staffed by highly qualified teachers every night for 1 1/2 Hours after regular school hours. Many of our unmotivated students started getting their work in on time so they would not have to stay after school. Other students stayed after school voluntarily to do their work because they could get help from a teacher. Some students learned it is easier to just get your work done during class time.
I will be interested to see if the after school center has a positive effect on our CSAP scores.
Hi Jonathan Wiesenberg,
I found a blog from Danielle Schultz, a school counselor about motivating the unmotivated from my Upbeat Newsletter from Free Spirit Publishing. It can be viewed at http://freespiritpublishingblog.com/2012/05/14/counselors-corner-engaging-the-disengaged-student/?utm_source=e-newsletter&utm_medium=web-link&utm_content=June&utm_campaign=JuneUBN2012.
Thanks for posting your question. It got us all thinking about how we motivate the unmotivated students.
This is a puzzle that I think all teachers and parents struggle with. Many children are occasionally disinterested while some are perpetually disinterested and lack overall motivation. Often there is something going on relative to basic needs--a child isn't rested, is hungry, is worried about things outside school, is despondent by a lack of power or control over things. And, as others commented, some children are so accustomed to being entertained that they aren't interested if it isn't fun...and not everything is. We have a large number of children with short attention spans and an "entertain me" attitude.
I do think Laura had some great suggestions relative to personalizing education--really knowing your students and developing that community within the classroom. Not easy to do as some children are resistent, with behaviors that reflect a desire to be outsiders.
Some of the Wonder Year teachers, who have had mini-grants this year to use Wonderopolis in creative and interesting ways and share their ideas through blogs, have found the out-of-the box website has piqued the interest of some hard-to-reach students and allowed them opportunities to explore areas for learning that are not necessarily mainstream topics yet apply learning acrossthe curriculum and address many common core standards. The visuals, videos, and links all add a touch of pizzazz to learning that a textbook may lack.
I also love ddrab's ideas for "take home labs" because it's hard for students to resist active learning. It's more self-directed and far more fun and interesting. So maybe that's something I'd add to Laura's list--incorporate active learning into daily learning topics. As a way to take less of that precious dedicated class time, I found that rather than explain and then experience, it worked well to begin with the activity and have students debrief what they learned. They usually are far more interested and seem to get the main points and remember them better.
Donna thanks for the examples and the question. I believe in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Enneagrms Dona great job of discussing personality types and they are a great source of discussion and motivation for students trying to find their way. Technology and multimedia is a great motivator as well. Good question I have several power point presentations I use with music to get students interested in school contact me on Thinkfinity if you'd like examples Mr Sandy Womack Jr I'm also on YouTube under Sandy Womack