student motivation problem...help!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MrsSweet, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. MrsSweet

    MrsSweet New Member

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    Jan 3, 2010

    I was wondering if anyone has ever used any raffle ticket style motivation? or if anyone has any ideas about how to motivate Urban school 9th graders? I teach English.

    I started teaching the students at the beginning of the second card marking. Progress reports went out right before break and on them about 1/3 of my students were failing. Now...they took a test on the Odyssey right before break that number is even larger. And they also had another large point assignment due right before break and many didn't turn it in. Some went from As to Cs and Cs to Es. I am really concerned!!!

    Much of the issue is that they don't focus on what I am trying to teach them or they don't do their assignments. Sometimes by the time they do do them they just got the answers from someone else and so they didn't learn anything. Attendance is also VERY poor! This doesn't help at all because they are way behind. Our school policy is not to give much homework because of the students' "home life." They are 'parents' to their younger siblings, are forced to work, etc.

    Please help!!! Any advise would be appreciated. I thought about doing some type of reward system...get a raffle ticket towards earning something...or receiving some other sort of item that will help them work towards a "prize"... not sure.:confused:

    I feel like the students are testing to see how little work they can do before I will fail them... I hope they have gotten the point now.
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jan 4, 2010

    Sorry you're in such a tough situation. You might take a look at Whole Brain Teaching's download on teaching tough teenagers. You have to register for the site, but it's all free. http://www.wholebrainteaching.com/
     
  4. marrbarr

    marrbarr Rookie

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    Jan 4, 2010

    financial rewards

    You might go to local clothing, food, costume jewelry retailers, movie theaters, etc. and see if they will let you buy stuff at reduced prices to then give to your students, or maybe even give you free stuff. Try buying iTunes cards too. I used to give out the Susan B. Anthony dollars for my kids for excellent work. If there is a local positive youth leader ask that person to come in to your classroom and give the old pep talk.
     
  5. MathNrd

    MathNrd Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2010

    While I totally understand your situation, (I teach two sections of Algebra 2 standard level to a very unmotivated group), I think that "bribing" them is teaching them a life lesson that we do not want them to learn.
    The successes that I have had with my students, be them small, have been when I try to relate the material to their lives and their interests and by fostering intrinsic motivation in them instead of using extrinsic rewards.
     
  6. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 6, 2010

    I LOVE inner city kids. They're a fabulous group with a unique set of issues that isn't addressed in traditonal teacher prep programs. You school's policy is reasonable. The issues they described are very real to these students. Homework is needed, but if it's overwhelming, its just not going to get done. There's too much else these students are responsible for.

    Failing the kids because they can't keep up with "traditional" expectations isn't the answer. Yes, they need to be held accountable, but instead of trying to make them fit your expectations, change YOU. Make the material relevant to their lives. You just did a unit on the Odyssey. Did you do all the typical stuff? Read the epic, answer plot questions, discuss the format, test on those things? I bet they were bored to tears. Beyond that, they were thinking that they didn't have time for that. It had no bearing on their lives. Why care about classic literature when you're worried about how you're going to pay for heat and when you might be able to eat next? Like most kids, they want it to be relavent NOW...not ten years from now. What if, instead of all the typical stuff, you had them write their own epic in the same form, but shortened. Change the plot to reflect the streets, change the character names to relfect their culture, ect, but make it required that all the essential points of form and function be present. I bet you would have had a much greater participation.

    I teach math, and in many ways, I think its a lot easier to make the topics relevant to their lives, but it is absolutely essential that you make the connection.
     
  7. Miss.H

    Miss.H Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2010

    Hi Mrs Sweet,
    I think you need to do both of the suggestions so far...

    you need to make the work you are doing 'relevant' to your childrens' lives...ask them what they want to learn about...find out if they are passionate about anything in particular.

    As an example, i had a child pass away with cancer and so my class decided that they wanted to buy teddy bears for the children in the cancer ward in hospital (to cheer them up). So they made posters to promote our 'crazy bear day'. They got the whole school to bring in their teddy bears for the day and also bring a monetary donation. They had to plan the 'crazy bear day' making posters/ speeches (to promote the day), they had to count the money we had donated, and decide how and where we would buy the bears for the hospital, we had to work out how to get to the hospital (mapping), we took the bears in (took photos)and then we wrote a recount of the whole experience to match the photos. They also made cards for the kids to go with the bears. So as you can see one small idea made a lot of learning experiences (in many curriculum areas). They were so engaged in what they were doing, that a difficult class became easy with not one behaviour problem.

    I don't think it hurts to give the children some incentives. Not ALL tasks can ALWAYS be interesting for everyone in the class. I relate my rewards back to a learning experience. For example, we made a 'bank book' and each time the children finish an activity they earn 'dollars' in their bank book. (YOu could also withdraw dollars from their bank account for misbehaviour). At the end of the term the children balance their bank book and I make a shop of goodies (that I bought myself or had donated). I put a price on each item depending on how much it is worth and the children can 'buy' the item with their bank book money. If two children want the same item then we have an auction.
    Through this reward system they are learning about money management, saving money, how to balance bank books etc.
    You could also make it that the children have to write the letters to get businesses to donate the prizes. Then harder they work to get donations (the better prizes they can buy). I found this very successful.

    I hope all this makes sense...good luck
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 6, 2010

    Oh, and relevant doesn't always equal not boring, but it's amazing how much boring work they'll do if they see the need for it. :)
     

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