Many educators ponder this question: “How do I get my students to want to learn?” Some students do not necessarily want to come to school every day and be challenged to achieve high standards. Traditionally, motivation has been applied with a simple input-output model. Teachers praise students for their hard work and support their motivation to persevere through difficult situations. This cause-and-effect model could very well work in many instances; however, educators and researchers alike need to understand that student motivation is more complex than that. Cause-and-effect may be easily replicated within a laboratory, but not necessarily in a classroom. Why? Because students come to schools with a host of social contexts, including religious backgrounds, family dynamics, race, socio-economic status, and other factors, which all affect motivation.
Washington State ASCD recently published the article below, written by Duane, on their Critical Question Blog.
Why does it seem like everything in education is changing? And, is there a way to think about the work that could make the work more manageable?
Good teachers know how important it is to give students regular opportunities to collaborate with each other. Small group discussions can be a fantastic way to challenge students to think critically, while giving them social support to work through their ideas in a circle of peers, instead of in front of the class as a whole. However, the first time I tried a small group discussion in class, I quickly realized most of my students were more interested in talking about the latest video game or weekend plans than their assigned discussion topic. Some teachers are wary of small group discussions for precisely that reason.
So how do you give students the opportunity to share their ideas with each other, while ensuring they are actually discussing the topic at hand? If a fail-safe way exists, I haven’t found it yet. However, I have found a number of strategies that help to keep students on-task.
Observe these 6th grade math students working with each other to learn different types of angles and triangles by using strings as manipulatives. These newest additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel come from Lanai High and Elementary School in Lanai City, HI.
Clips from a 3rd grade English in Sedro-Woolley, WA are the newest additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel. Janell Doggett facilitates a discussion on comparing and contrasting using George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as examples.
The Washington Education Association (WEA) recently published a memo sharing some details about their visits to the 27 School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools in Washington to share the good news about their high level of performance compared to the others. They were joined by National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel for part of the tour.
"I wanted to come to Washington to meet you. I've been talking all around the country about the great work you've been doing and thought it was time to come see it for myself," Van Roekel said.
An overview of the SIG grants is provided in the Improving Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools: Lessons from Washington state annual report provided by the WEA.
In 2010, the United States Department of Education provided funding for three-year School Improvement Grants (SIG) to support the lowest achieving 5 percent of Title I or Title I-eligible schools identified by each state based on state math and reading test scores and high-school graduation rates. In 2011, the Education Department funded another round of three-year SIG grants.
Our research and evaluation team took part in this by providing a yearly Assessment of Progress (which we call School and Classroom Practices Studies) for each of the SIG schools in Washington. The Assessment of Progress provided schools with an overview of the school’s alignment to the Characteristics of High Performing Schools, an update on progress since the baseline report, and recommendations for continued improvement.
Interested in an objective and thorough study of your own school?
In this lesson, students start by thinking about "trends" in general and then narrow their focus into looking at trends in the periodic table. These additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel come from a 10th grade science lesson delivered by Steve Cornell and his students in Lahaina, Hawaii.
As a first-year teacher, I thought entry tasks had one primary purpose: to keep the students quiet and occupied long enough for me to take attendance. During my first two years of teaching, I tended to assign a lot of simple, skills-based activities as entry tasks. I was an English teacher, so my students typically had grammar or vocabulary exercises during the first five minutes of class. However, as I observed other teachers through my STAR training and grew stronger in my own instructional practices, I began to look for ways to raise the level of thinking and application in my lessons. As my lessons began to demand more from my students, so too, did my entry tasks. Although I still started one or two lessons a week with skills-based practice (there is always a place for that!), I began to focus more on activities that asked my students to think critically and to make connections from the moment the bell rang. Here were three of my favorite entry tasks.
We asked a handful of teachers a simple question: "Why are you a teacher?" This is a collection of their responses.
Interested in adding more purpose to your instruction?
When I first entered this job I had no idea what to expect from observations. I have held teaching jobs before and I am fairly comfortable at the front of the room, but observing was something else. Becoming this stealthy person who sits, invisible, at the side of the classroom and writes down what is going on is a lot harder than it sounds. Do not get me wrong. I love doing it. I love being able to see places in Washington I never knew existed before. I love watching enthusiastic teachers do what they were born to do. I love seeing students really engage and be part of their own education. But, there are sure some awkward times when you are trying to be an anonymous, invisible, fly-on-the-wall observer as well as many moments that make it very special.
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