Help!

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by Stephanie21, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Stephanie21

    Stephanie21 Rookie

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    Oct 11, 2007

    I teach in an inner-city (6th grade). My kids are COMPLETELY unmotivated, dont care, and take every chance they have to tell me so.
    How can I motivate them and get them to CARE!!!! Do you have any suggestions??? Most of mine read on a 3rd-4th grade reading level. Some lower.
     
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  3. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    Oct 12, 2007

    Stephanie, I wish I had some advice for you! I can imagine how frustrating it is for you. Hang in there!
     
  4. niseixtenshi

    niseixtenshi Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2007

    I have some of your types of kids as well...

    Maybe a reward system? I have a box w/ goodies that I picked up from the 99 cents store (pencils, erasers, pens, notepads w/ cartoon characters..etc).

    I got a roll of those raffle like tickets. If they get "caught doing something good"....I have them write their name on their ticket and put it into the raffle jar (which I do every Friday). You can give them a ticket for being everything from being helpful to doing their HW everyday that week. The more tickets they get...the higher their chance of winning!

    My kids LOVE any chance they can get to being part of the raffle.

    _______________________________

    Also, do you do silent reading time? I let them read ANYTHING they want during that time (as long as it's appropriate). They bring in magazines, newspapers..etc. For the ones who HATE to read...makes it a little more tolerable.

    ________________________________

    For their Social Studies tests - I am letting them use open NOTES (no books) tests since I wasn't getting HW turned in & the reading wasn't getting done. This has made a DRASTIC change in their attitudes on HW and classwork. We take "notes" in class together & they are all on task because they KNOW it's fair game for the tests. They are also making an effort to take part in the discussions so that they understand what they are writing.
     
  5. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Oct 13, 2007

    Is it every single kid? Don't miss the trees for the forest. It will help you keep your spirits up if you focus on the kids (even if it just a few)who do care and do want to learn. I taught at an inner city school for several years and I found what did help was finding something the students were good at. Some of them (not all)view themselves as a failure so any kind of positive feedback or reward will be good for them. Try to think outside of the box too, would they like to draw or film a play or something a little out of the ordinary for them? Most of my students of any age love to color. We color parts of speech etc. I am not saying to make the class easier but if they feel they CAN have some success in your class and that you do want them to be successful some of them may buy into your class more.
    Good luck. As someone who has been in the trenches I can feel for you. Unless you have been in the situation of teaching students who are apathetic, who will throw things at you, and cuss you out at the smallest opportunity it is hard to believe that it really can happen. :(
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oct 14, 2007

    Good advice Budaka. :)

    While I'm not discouraging you from treats and rewards, I would look at the bigger picture. You want your students to care in general, including when life doesn't give them a Jolly Rancher to do so. So, I think what Budaka suggested will motivate them. Prove to them they ARE good at something, and hopefully that will spark something within them.
     
  7. picky1

    picky1 New Member

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    Oct 14, 2007

    Rewards of a reading nature

    Hey there!

    I did an activity with gradefive kids,that grade six students would likely enjoy as well, and even the unmotivated students adored it.

    I had the students create a comic of their choice. Initially I had anticipated it being difficult for them to come up with ideas, but after seeing just a few comics that some kids had done in previous years they just ran with it. At the culmination of the activity the students decided the order in which they wanted the "comic book" to be organized in (based on themes or whatever other categories they decided upon) and then they all were able to create their personalized title page incorporating one aspect of each comic. It was a blast and motivated too!!
     
  8. new teacher11

    new teacher11 New Member

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    Jan 13, 2008

    Stephanie21,
    I teach in a very similar setting, 6th grade in a middle school. I am a first year teacher and have struggled to find that motivating factor. At first it was candy and rewards of that nature but I soon found out that this did not work for me. It has been a struggle but here is what I have done so far: reward the students who are consistently on task with computer time or when they complete their assignments give them a word find or coloring project. I have tried to have peer assistance in my classroom, when the class is off task we immediately end the engaging lesson and do "book work". I would also love to hear what others have done. It is very challenging teacher in these settings but I do believe I am making a difference in some of the student's lives. At least that is what I tell myself to keep my sanity.
     
  9. eager2teach2007

    eager2teach2007 Rookie

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    Jan 13, 2008

    This is my first year teaching and have a very similar situation. I teach 6th grade Language Arts, so each of my students are only with me 45 minutes (thank goodness!). I have a mix of students who are reading at grade level with students at a 3rd grade reading level.
    The apathy has really been getting to me these past few weeks. I understand they have 5-6 other classes to keep up with, so I try to encourage them to divide their time evenly among all their classes. Still, I get annoyed when I don't see them at least attempting to do the work, especially those who are repeating the class.
    The ones who want to do well are the ones who keep me coming back everyday. At least they take interest in what I've prepared for that day. It's not that I don't try with the unmotivated ones; I literally bend over backwards just to get them to finish makeup work and complete a vocab quiz. I've realized that I can't force them to do the work. By encouraging them constantly, I'm doing my part, and hopefully it will work!
    I've tried the candy thing, but I have 135 students, so it can get quite costly. I pass out several "No Homework" passes to those who are staying on task, and they seem to really enjoy those (any school supply store will have them). I reward them with 5 minutes of talk time at the end of the period if they have remained quiet and diligent during class. Also, praising any little positive thing they do in class, whether it be opening their books after I've asked them to, to being seated in a seat while others are standing, is something they gloat about all period. They really enjoy praise (something I didn't realize until I tried it!)Those are three suggestions I can give you, and I'm open to many more! Good luck, and I know we first year teachers will get through this year better than we thought.
     
  10. new teacher11

    new teacher11 New Member

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    Jan 13, 2008

    YES WE WILL :up:
    I also give them time at the end of the class to talk if their behavior warrants. I understand, it is not that you don't try with all of them but there is only one of you. I agree praise them for everything, it does work, even that student who you look forward to not being in class. Easier said than done most days but every student has his or her moments.
     
  11. LA/FLnewbie

    LA/FLnewbie Companion

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    Jan 14, 2008

    I also teach 6th grade Language Arts, but it's a HUGE 90-120 minute block depending on the day. It has been an absolute uphill battle for me. I trained in a high school, and my 8th grade class (my homeroom) is much better -- not perfect, but better -- and the way I envisioned it would be (occasional chatting, issues, etc). 6th grade feels like walking into a battlefield in comparison, especially for that length of time. The talking, the rudeness, the immaturity...argghh! I have been trying everything I can think of with them, and I think it is getting better in baby steps...but I also really think I just don't belong teaching kids this age. But then, I also wonder if H.S. kids would be worse. Either way, I am losing my mind, and my will to teach :(
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 17, 2008

    I teach in a poor area and have motivation problems as well. I've had a lot of luck with my classroom motto--"Makin' it Real". I may not be able to make math fun all the time, but I can always make it real. They do a real life math journal where they have to write a paragraph about how whatever we're doing relates to real life, which gets them interested in the topics. We play games (there's the fun part). I can get pretty goofy in class...hey, sometimes you just have to get them laughing, then you can sneak in the learning. I can come up with really outrageous analogies in order to get them focused (pigs feet...fractions and pigs feet...don't ask).

    Anyway, not everthing will work, and you won't be able to reach all of your students, but you will be able to reach some of them, and then a few more, and then even more, till eventually, you'll get most of them (then the school year ends and you get to start all over again next year).

    On another note, have fun yourself. A lot of my own teaching style comes from my 6th grade history teacher. I used to be one of those totally unmotivated students, but Mr. Hartley was just so cool. He was having so much fun up there teaching that I couldn't help but get interested in what he was saying. That eventually got me learning in his class, then got me learning in my other classes until *gasp*, I became a teacher myself.

    I hope some of this helps. Good luck.
     
  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 18, 2008

    Praise is usually better than a zinger. Self-motivated types don't need much external motivation. Unmotivated kids generally have one question in need of answering by the teacher - "Why should I?" This usually involves incentives or something to work for. Although lots of teacher use them, the candy or treat thing sort of cuts across the lessons on nutrition and health. As you noted, it gets expensive too. Talking time is not too educational, wastes valuable class time, and is little different than what kids do all the time anyway.

    Consider Preferred Activity Time (PAT). In this incentive system students are rewarded with a preferred activity. To be valid the activity *must* be learning related and something the teacher can live with - kicking back and talking to friends would not be a PAT.

    1) Gift - to start PAT teacher gives class 20 minutes of PAT for doing *nothing* -- it is a gift from teacher to class for just being kids. 20 minutes is listed in + column on board.
    2) Increasing PAT - class can increase PAT (+ time) by hustling (being in seats within 30 seconds of bell and on task -- actually this can be done in 17 seconds, I've timed them) Might go something like this, "Class, as you know it takes us too long to enter room, settle in, and begin on bell work. I think we can do this in under three minutes (err on high side in beginning, judgment). Tomorrow when you enter I will time you (get a big stopwatch). Any time under three minutes will be added to your PAT. Let's see how you do. And remember to help those slow pokes who might take too much time."
    3) Decreasing PAT - "However, watch will keep running until every student is on task. Any time over three minutes will be subtracted from PAT. (use a - column on board)

    First PAT - after explaining PAT to class give them their first one. Right now. 20 minutes. For doing nothing. This is to let them experience a fun PAT. What activity? Anything you were probably going to teach or review anyway except make it into a game. Jeopardy, Cash Cab, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? are just a few that can be turned into review (or readiness) of subject content.

    4) Teacher Bonus - teacher bonus is + time given to class or individual student for doing something special. It is a set time - say two minutes. "Class, let me have your attention. I just caught Mark heading his paper without my assistance. As you all know (they do) Mark usually waits to head his paper. Mark has just earned the class an extra two minutes of PAT for his diligence. Let's give him a big hand!" "Class, everyone turned in their homework today. That's an extra two minutes of PAT. Let's keep it up and earn more PAT." "Class, Michele showed great self-control and problem solving when discussing her problem with Jenny. This is great to see Michele. And you have earned the whole class an extra two minutes of PAT. Give her a hand!"
     
  14. curious

    curious Companion

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    Jan 19, 2008

    Loomistrout, thanks for posting PAT. I'm student teaching this semester with 1st graders and this behavior management plan sounds like it'd be really useful with the students I'm working with. My CT has a similar plan, but PAT uses more praising--something that sounds like it'd get students to cooperate more and think of others.

    Do you think the PAT plan would interfere with the school's reward system of giving "Caught Being Good" tickets to students (for which they get to put them in a raffle for a prize at the end of the month)? Should I give a student a ticket in addition to increasing the PAT minutes for the class?
     
  15. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 19, 2008

    Should not interfere. Do not drop any program already in use if it is successful. I used to run PAT along with another program at the same time. Sometimes just one or the other. Consider, however, the test of any worthwhile management program - does it self-eliminate? If it's a good one you should find yourself relying on it less and less until it is gone. If raffle tickets are used in Sept. and the same kids are still goofing off in Jan. that system isn't working. Hope this helps.:)
     
  16. curious

    curious Companion

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    Jan 20, 2008

    Loomistrout, thanks for the tips (especially your point about a good plan being self-eliminating).
     

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