Welcome to our session on motivation and background.Introductions
Dewey’s definition of motivation and engagement:Motivation: catching studentsEngagement: holding them
And here’s who saved Connor: Diary of a Wimpy Kid.But the cartoon reminds me of another youngster who I’ve been thinking about: Lance, a truly gifted little boy who at 3 ½ he started reading. In kindergartner his teacher realized that he was skilled far above his peers, so she put him and a little girl who also was a reader into AR. She challenged the two of them to see who could earn more points. And Lance, what did he do? Didn’t take the tests because he thought the tests were silly and wanted his friend to earn the prizes. This was a hint of Lance’s life in school. If he didn’t want to play the game, he simply wouldn’t.
Another guy keeps me awake at night: JustinJustin is a brilliant high schooler who has never earned a grade lower than an A during the entire time that he has been in school. However, listen to what he writes as he describes himself from the 3rd person and in the persona of Parum: He is not learning the subject matter; rather, he is learning how to format the notes that have been given to him into a paper that he will turn in to receive full credit. Parum is not learning how to read and write, how to understand complex concepts, or even how to learn from his books, but he is learning how to appeal to his teachers by spitting their notes back at them with a new, boring twist: he used MLA. How does he get such high grades if he has not learned anything since the second grade? Parum, like many students, recognizes that the school’s system is really just a game. Parum, like many students, plays to win. Finals are like the boss at the end of a video game, or the final free throw that could take a basketball victory from the clutches of an opponent, or even the last mile in a hundred mile bicycle race. All quests have a series of tests that get sequentially harder, the obstacles. School is a quest. Parum is a serious hero. He has an “A”. In fact, Justin has a game he plays with his pals, also highly gifted guys. Who can earn the lowest A possible in all the classes? A grade too high? Don’t do an assignment. Grade dropped to a B? Turn in work that’s just a cut above usual.Cynical, yep, that’s Justin.
Phil Schletchy nails it when he describes levels of engagement. His two categories for disengagement are particularly interesting:Justin is a perfect example of strategic compliance: He has a goal – but it’s not a learning goal – and he strategizes to meet that goal. His goal, one that he’s set for himself: maintain As but get the lowest A possible. And Connor often is in ritual compliance. School doesn’t have a lot of meaning for him, but he does the work so he can keep his computer and his cell phone. He just doesn’t want to get into trouble.And then there’s Lance. He won’t even begin playing the game. Even as a young student, he fits what Schelcthy would describe as rebellion: disengaged from classroom activities and goals but engaged with his own goals.
My argument is that we must begin with engagement. We must figure out ways to motivate and engage our students from the get go. So before we talk about how, let’s see what engagement looks like. I’m going to show you some photos of classrooms where kids are totally engaged in their learning. See what you notice.
STOP THE MUSIC AT THIS SLIDE.
What’s a metaphor you have for engagement? (Partner talk)
Csikszentmihalyi spent his life studying what made people happy. In the process of this study, he found that people entered a state of flow: when they were completely engrossed, fully involved so that nothing else seems to matter. Even time disappears. This is engagement: it’s an immersion in the experience. It’s what Justin does outside of school; he pursues topics of interest from music theory to understanding challenging novels. It’s in those moments when he enters the state of flow – or is engaged in thinking and learning. And Lance? Give him something about engineering and he gets caught up in the ideas – he enters the state of flow.For those of you who are fans of Jeff Wilhelm and Michael Smith who have studied boys and literacy, among other topics, they even named one of their books after Csikszentmihalyi’s idea: Going with the Flow.
And why does motivation and engagement matter? Let’s look at some of the snippets of research.
As John and I studied classrooms, interviewed teachers, and read the research on motivation and engagement, it became clear that a teacher can create the kind of context likely to engage students.
In our research, we found six key components that are under a teacher’s control that impact motivation and engagement. When all 6 are braided together, like a braided river, her classroom climate can be incredible.The braided river metaphor is based on a trip I took to Alaska a few years ago. I stood on the river banks in this charming town called Talkeetna. My husband and I noticed the various river channels. Someone explained to us that the rivers flowed down from the mountains and merged into one river creating a braided river. That’s how we see the six components of motivation and engagement: powerful as single rivers but amazingly powerful when braided together.
Let’s take a look at challenge, the lynch pin to engagement.Paula’s story:2 boys sitting in the hall deeply engrossed in reading something about articles and solving a problem the science teacher had given themWhen Paula asked why they were in the hall, the boys talked about how their teacher treated them like babies and read this article to them and told them what words to underline. They were ticked about how she was treating them and acted out.The irony: they’re doing the work in the hall but doing it on their own. These two guys reflect what Csikszentmihalyi recognized: challenge and engagement or flow are deeply connected.
Csikszentmihalyi talked about the importance of challenges and skills matching.
Let me introduce you to two teachers who figured out how to increase the challenge. As I tell you the story, listen for the 6 Cs.
Meet Martha Tudor, a science teacher, who also had to slightly shift her planning to challenge her kids. Listen to this very short interview with her when she talks about a defining moment in her coaching. Paula is her coach.********************Here’s how she applied it:Studying volcanoesIn the past, she would give her kids a follow up activity to reinforce their learningNow she wants to give them a situation to wrestle with where they have to build their understanding – where they’re being challenged.Listen to how she describes her new plan.++++She talks about being obsolete, but she isn’t. She’s moving around nudging students to show their thinking, to explain their ideas, and when she doesn’t like what she hears, she pushes them some more.
No More Clock Watchers! Motivating and Engaging All Our Learners
And why does it matter? Humans need more than anything to be engaged with significant tasks…[L]earning declines when schools ignore this need or set up circumstances that occupy rather than engage. -- BrosnahananedNeuleib
4th Grade Slump …For complicated reasons, some kids lose their mojo when they get to fourth grade. Principals and teachers around the country are growing increasingly concerned with what they call the fourth-grade slump. The malaise, which can strike children any time between the end of the second and the middle of fifth grade, is marked by a declining interest in reading and a gradual disengagement from school. -- Newsweek, 2007
Engagement trumps SES Krisch, de Jong, LaFontaine, McQueen, Mendelovits & Monseur 15-year-olds whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading achieve better reading scores than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who are poorly engaged in reading.
Adolescents and Engagement Educators who teach reading and writing skills without addressing student engagement are unlikely to yield substantial improvements. As anyone who has spent time with middle and high school students can attest, attempting to build the skills of disengaged adolescents is a futile enterprise. Whether expressed as defiant noncompliance or passive “checking out,” the student who refuses to learn will succeed in that effort. --NCREL
Chronic disengagement 40% to 60% of adolescent students are chronically disengaged in their learning. This disturbing statistic refers not just to academically reluctant students but also to students who are college-bound. --National Academy of Science
Shifting her practices Whoever is doing the talking/reading/writing/thinking is doing the learning An provocative question that required deep thought A variety of text that presented different perspectives Teacher modeling and then turning the thinking over to the students A fight against her yearning to save the kids
Reciprocal reading A collaborative scaffold for students to read challenging text