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!