Ownership and Motivation


(Ariella T. sharing her math game that she created for a badge activity)

(Ariella’s game board)

I would like to get feedback from you.  How do you motivate your students to WANT to learn and take ownership of their work? I find this one of the most difficult aspects of teaching at this point in time.  It seems that students think everything should be like a video game.  Fast-paced, fun, and full of “bells and whistles”.  Well, unfortunately, in the real world this is not always the case.

As I have blogged about in the past, I have implemented the use of badges in my math class.  So far the students have been able to earn badges for simple tasks such as the mastery of basic facts.  This nine weeks, earning badges is project-based.

For the most part, the students have been very self-motivated and creative with this. Everyday when we have a few minutes at the end of class, the students ask if they can work on their projects. The projects that have been submitted are excellent.  The students seem to be very proud of their effort and hard work.

As a side note, I have made it a point, NOT to check the students’ work before they they turn it in to me.  They can show it to me and I will make suggestions, but I am not following up with them.  They have to follow the rubric and make sure they complete all of the steps in order to earn the highest possible grade. (The truth is, I am not going to be that picky with content as much as I am with the aspect of following directions on the rubric.)  This has been a problem with some of the parents.  They want me to double-check everything and report back to them with their child’s progress.  This has been one of the few times that I have said “no” to a parent’s request and I don’t think they are very pleased with me; but I am not going to change my mind this time.  I feel that part of my job as a teacher is to make the students accountable for their work.  As I told one of the parents, the kids are in the big league now, meaning once you enter Fourth Grade, more is expected of the student.

Also, the use of Khan Academy has proven to be a major source of motivation for most of my students.  They are so proud of themselves when they earn a KA badge or even better, a Mastery Badge.  We are still working on the ownership part of KA. Many students come to me and say, “I finished my 120 minutes for the nine weeks.  I’m done!”  My response is, “Well, no not really guys.  Now, push yourself and do some harder math.  Take my recommendations and go above and beyond the 120 minutes.  Own your learning and push yourself, just to push yourself.”

I usually get the deer and headlights look.  Once again, I think of Dori the fish.  “Just keep swimming.”

(KA badges earned by Jack H. and Samatha L.)




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March 2014
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