Author Topic: Motivating Students At the Half-way Point  (Read 1836 times)

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Offline JABRocky

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Motivating Students At the Half-way Point
« on: April 20, 2017, 11:58:04 AM »
I am currently teaching a Reading & Writing beginner/low-intermediate level class and noticed that (as expected) students were starting to seem more fatigued and less engaged close to the half-way point of class around the start of spring vacation. This is something I to can remember feeling during my own language studies, especially in intensive contexts. The initial energy and excitement about beginning a new class has somewhat faded, perhaps they aren't reaching their goals as quickly as they would like, or are starting to realize that some goals were unrealistic. So, I planned this (45min)-ish motivational reading and reflection activity to help get their eyes back on the prize!

- Have students reflect on their own motivation levels
- Have students reflect on their language learning goals from the beginning of the semester and assess how they feel in their progress of their goals and whether some have changed.
- Have students think about how to use their mindsets as a tool to reach their goals.

(Source: Northwestern University Kellogg School)

For student reflections:
1) Ideally, some kind of original student contract or list of individual learner goals that the students created at the beginning of the class.

2) SLOs (student learning objectives) or SWOBAT lists of the linguistic/pragmatic/metacognitive items that students have done in class so far (e.g. I can write a short paragraph talking about the main idea from a short text; I can ask someone about their work/hobbies/job).

For this class, I first had the students look over their student learning objectives from the beginning of the semester and well as their individual lists. I then asked them to write a short paragraph whether they felt they were making progress on their goals. Or, to note if any of their goals changed.

After this, I presented the reading to the students in groups with them discussing what they found to be the most interesting or surprising things in the article. I adapted the original article and changed some of the text to higher frequency words (and trimmed some areas to keep it in a manageable length for time) to meet their proficiency level.

Each group then presented a few things that they found interesting (on post-it notes on the board), and then the entire class read all of the post-its (grouping the similar/same ideas together) and marking stars next to the points they found interesting.

We then discussed the one's identified as the key take-aways from the board (with some motivational pictures!), as well as this:

[/color]Motivation, the researchers say, only picks back up when we switch from thinking about "how far we've come" to "how close we are."
The danger of getting "stuck" occurs because of a shift in perception as we approach completion. When you're in the early stages of a project, you reflect on your progress ("Look at all the great work we've done!"). As you get closer to your goal, around the halfway point, your frame of reference shifts. You reflect on how much work there is to go ("Look at how close we are to being done!"). If we don't make that shift we're in real danger of getting stuck.[/font][/size]

Offline beecorleto

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Re: Motivating Students At the Half-way Point
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2017, 01:44:25 AM »
This is super cool! I think student motivation is something all teachers struggle with at one point or another. How did the students react to this activity?

Offline Jiwah

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Re: Motivating Students At the Half-way Point
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 04:50:29 AM »
I think this is a great idea and I completely understand where you are coming from. Student fatigue is very real and you have definitely found some excellent ways to combat this all-too-common issue.

I have a suggestion for you, and ALL TEACHERS, pedagogically that I think you will be able to include into your future classes. Personally, as a teacher and student, being lectured at for more than 10-15 is difficult. 15 minutes may not seem long but if you are really paying attention to the teacher, that is plenty of heavy concentration for a long time.

Something that I learned from observing a fellow teacher is that MICRO-TASKS are an incredible way to break up entire lessons into a bunch of little organized chunks while keeping students engaged. In this observation, the teacher only lectured for 3-7 minutes at a maximum! So, instead of presenting multiple topics at the same time for 30 minutes and then having students complete a very large activity where they have to remember all the topics they just heard while still effectively using all of them correctly, they only have a 2-3 minute activity on one topic. This allows student to:

1. Have less to recall for the activity
2. Focus on only one task and master it
3. Have minimal lecture time with plenty of practice in order to stay engaged

As an Example of his lesson:

He taught how Introductions were structured. In the intro there is:

1. A Hook
2. Background Info
3. A Road Map for the Paper's Structure
4. A Thesis
5. Etc. if I missed anything.

Now instead of lecturing for 20 minutes on all 4 and then having students recall that, he had 3 mini-tasks, breaking apart all of that information into small chunks.

And what do you know? No one was asleep and it was and hour and a half lesson on fairly mundane material!