Page 1 of 1
Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 6:43 pm
I am trying to find better motivators for middle school aged students. At the elementary level it is much easier. Praise, stickers, and homework passes are successful. Those students also seem to have a positive attitude, and want to do well. However, it's often different at the middle school level. They are "too cool" for the usual type of rewards, and a lot of times they do not really seem to care how they perform. It's a difficult age anyway, and I would hope giving them the ability to communicate better with their peers would motivate them. As they approach high school, I also want them to be aware of how important their language skills will need to be to succeed not only academically, but in the workforce so they can lead happy, productive lives. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Posted: Mon May 14, 2012 12:31 pm
I am currently reading Teaching by Principles by H. Douglas Brown, and I have come to learn that finding ways to motivate ELL's is a common challenge for teachers. If students can be motivated intrinsically rather than extrinsically, they will be more likely to succeed. Instead of using extrinsic motivators, such as prizes or rewards, try some intrinsically motivated activities. Hopefully this will help students find their own drive to succeed. Try giving students the opportunity to talk about what interests them, using their own ideas to write freely, or reading about topics that grab their attention, these approaches should help spark students' interest and help them become self-motivated.
Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 3:45 am
I agree with Meg. Extrinsic rewards can only encourage the students to respond immediately, but intrinsic motivation has lasting impact on the students' drive for learning and acquiring new knowledge. Intrinsic motivation leads to feelings of competence and success. So, try some intrinsic innovations such as these: student-centered lesson plans, personal goal-setting, individualiation, cooperative learning, group work, set long-term goals, focus on the "big picture," peer evaluation (rather than tests), task-based teaching, routines, and so on. These intrinsic motivations help both children and adults to think and learn--free from the control of rewards (both tangibles and intangibles) and punishments.
Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:46 pm
I work with both elementary school students and Middle school students. I agree with your observations about student motivation and the correlation to the students’ grade levels. My students in grades 4-6 (six is part of the elementary school) seem to have much more intrinsic motivation than my older students. These students are eager to learn English because they want to and they enjoy the “self-reward” of learning the language due to their own efforts. However, I would be lying if I said that I am not a factor in their learning motivation. They do love to make me happy. Yet, I can see that most of their hard work is based on the personal goals they have set for themselves (establishing personal goals in an activity that I require all newly entered ELLs to do in the ESL classroom). I also believe that their younger age is still governed by their innocence and, as a result, they are more likely to take risk without feeling the pressure of their peers.
My middle school students are as diverse as the languages and cultures they speak. Some are only motivated by external factors; others focus on intrinsic motivators, and still many alternate between the two. It is a difficult age, and there are many uncontrollable factors that influence their behavior in the classroom. The fact that you acknowledge this difficult time for them is very important. Continue to communicate to them the reasons why language skills are important. Show them how advancing their language skills will help them to “lead happy, productive lives”. Continue to give them the security of comfortable routines in the classroom, teach them the importance of self-diagnosis and how that applies to their life-long personal goals.