Thursday, June 16, 2011

Technology Motivates Students

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but the one who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn.” Author unknown

I am sure you knew it would be coming…and now is the time. I have to discuss the impact technology has on student motivation. As an Instructional Technology Specialist, I have had the privilege to collaborate and view some awesome technology projects and practices. On the other side of the coin, I have also seen some disparaging practices when it comes to technology. In other words, I have seen a lot of paper, pens , and lectures. It may be scary, but we cannot afford to continue to teach like we were taught or even teach the way we have for the last 20 years. As John Dewey put it, “if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” Tomorrow looks different and information is constantly changing. Our students must learn a new and different skill set than many of us had to in school. The only way that will happen is when we, as teachers, begin to explore, execute, and engage our students through the effective integration of technology. And, that means more than just using PowerPoint to review some historical facts. What if they explored the question: What historical events should not be repeated? What if they investigated the time period on the internet, interviewed a family member who lived during the time, and shared their “new” knowledge on a blog or a wiki for others to see? In doing this, we challenge them to think critically, we involve the family/community, and we share with a larger learning community. You see, integrating technology is no longer a novelty it’s a necessity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Help Students Overcome their Fear of Success

"Procrastination is the fear of success." Author unknown

If you asked your students what does a successful student look like, very few will say, "like me!" Many of our students, like many of us, have a fear of success to some degree in some area of our life. For students, it sounds like this: if I make good grades in school, will my friends still be my friends? Will my friends think I am nerdy? Will I lose my social life because I'm working so hard to earn good grades? So, instead of being motivated to do their best work they sabotage their success and settle for just good enough. This concerns me because I don't want to take my children to a doctor that is just good enough. And, I don't want then to have a teacher that teaches just good enough. Hence, I would like to encourage all of us to help our students overcome their fear of success. Some things we can do are: respect and commend their effort, not just their grades. When they make notable progress, refrain from giving too much praise- some students don't want the extra attention. Lastly, remind them that you are there to support them on their journey to success and follow through!

So don't delay! Help your students overcome their fear of success, today!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Help Students Overcome their Fears (pt. 1)

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Sven Goran Eriksson

Before school started, our campus had the privilege of listening to a dynamic speaker- Crystal Kuykendall. One of the things, I remember most was the part when she told us she would get us to learn several new vocabulary words. Most of the audience, including myself, was a little doubtful but I was up for the challenge. After some vivid illustrations, gestures, and storytelling, she was RIGHT! We were able to remember each of those words!

We have all experienced a reluctance to try something new or take on a new challenge because we feared we might fail. Our students are the same way. Based on the experiences they have had with Math, Science, and Reading they may be unmotivated to do any assignments because they are afraid to fail. In Ms. Kuykendall’s book, From Rage to Hope, she provides ways that we can help students overcome their fear of failure. One way is to let them know, up front, they will succeed in this learning environment. Then, we must back it up with unwavering support, a variety of strategies, encouraging words, practice, assessments, and more practice. Secondly, we must help them to see failure as a learning experience. Next, we can share the failures of famous people they know and respect. Finally, we must remind them that they have overcome their fear of failure in the past (like with riding a bike, learning to swim, or learning to read) and they can overcome this fear as well- if they don’t give up!

By the way, I forgot to say that Ms. Kuykendall gave us lots of encouraging words during that activity, and I think that made a the difference!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Episode 5 Expect the Best

“Expectations impact ourselves and others.” Bruce Wilkinson, The 7 Laws of the Learner

Do you know what a placebo is? It’s a fake pill. 90% of all pills prescribed were placebos up until 1890. If you were really sick your pill was really big. Doctors knew the placebos had no power to make the patient better. Still, they would tell their patients take 2 of these pills every 4 hours for them to have their full effect. Amazingly, though, because the patient believed in the power of the medicine, it had a positive effect. They expected the medicine to make them feel better. When it comes to teaching, what do you expect of your students? Do you expect the best? Do you expect the best for each one or just your stronger students? Do you expect the best from those that make up our sub-populations? I think this opening quote is a great reminder for us to set high expectations for our students. This is one way to keep students motivated and challenge them to work hard. When they know that you are expecting their best work and you are giving them your best, they will rise to your expectations!

Episode 4 Choices

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

With all the objectives and skills that we are mandated to teach we can sometimes forget that still, we have lots of choices. We have the power to choose which technology we want to integrate, which novel we want to study, which resource we want to use. Just as we have choices, one of the best ways to motivate students is to give them choices. They may not be able to determine how many questions to complete but maybe you can give them the choice to work independently or with a partner. When it’s a major project, does it have to be done on project board or can they create a multimedia presentation. We have some great resources in the library to help you give your students menus or choices. To the students, maybe it will still seem like work, but when given a choice they will enjoy the work and at the very least do the work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Episode 3 Let's Get Personal

My high school choir teacher was the best! She modeled excellence in everything she did. She challenged and stretched us to rise to her high expectations. And, we did. Sure, this podcast is to give you helpful tips and strategies to help you motivate your students, but you know what? You are the best motivator. Not just your position as a teacher, but who you are personally! For example, do your students know what you like and don’t like? Can they tell someone where you were born or how many siblings you have? When was the last time you used a personal anecdote (silly, scary, or serious) to explain a concept or topic. When we share who we are with our students, we are connecting with them. They see us as the “humans” we really are and they see how much we care about their academic success as well as their personal success. This week I want to challenge you to get “personal”. Share some personal stories with them let them know more about you. And, ask them some questions so that you can know more about them. Finally, feel free to send me an email sharing your results. I would love to hear how it worked!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Accentuate the Positive

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between" – Johnny Mercer

You have caught them in the act. The act of breaking a rule. Now it’s time to dish out the consequences. How do you normally respond? Have you ever caught yourself saying something like, “If you are late again you are going to have morning detention.” Or “If you keep that up I will write you up!” But I read this article the other day that recommends that we focus on the motivation to achieve instead of the motivation to avoid failure. In other words, instead of focusing on being late to avoid detention (something they don’t want) focus on arriving on time so they can learn all the day’s class has to offer. If you are like me, this will take some time before it becomes habit. Still, I think it’s worth it. So next time you are tempted to say, “Be quiet or I am going to call your parents (something negative); say something like “Be quiet and show your classmate that you respect him.” (something positive).