Happy new year, everyone! We here at Motivation Matters wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks for all the thoughtful comments and suggestions we've received on this blog over the past year. As always, we want to make this blog a helpful and relevant resource for you, so if you have any topics that you'd like discussed or explored in the new year or suggestions on what we could do to improve the blog, please email me ([email protected]) or Kevin ([email protected]) or leave us a comment! To get the year started on an uplifting note, ...


It will be interesting to see how Arne Duncan, Obama's pick for Secretary of Education, changes (or doesn't change) the way that schools are run in the United States after Obama takes office on Jan. 20. This article on the Washington Post site suggests that, based on his track record in Chicago, he is open to innovative and creative ways to boost grades and motivate students, including rewarding students for good grades with cash. What sets Duncan apart, education experts said, is his willingness to embrace a range of reforms and his ability to work with people who hold diverging, ...


This New York Times article discusses the increase in schools that are including students in the traditional parent-teacher conference, sometimes encouraging the students themselves to lead the discussions. Proponents of this conference method say that having students there encourages them to take responsibility for their education and behavior in school, makes parents more comfortable, and increases participation in the conferences. Some schools are even encouraging other family members—aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.—to attend the conferences. This model isn't appropriate for all situations, says one principal (such as a discussion about a special education diagnosis), but for most cases, including ...


This AP story shows how in a school where freshmen and sophomores are separated by gender test scores—and motivation levels—are up. "We've seen huge, huge increases in test scores," said [Principal Alisha] Kiner, who presented the data this fall at the National Association for Single Sex Public Education's international conference. The story examines how advocates of gender-specific classes say boys and girls are interested in different things, and separating them can make it easier to tap into both groups' potential. However, they also warn against perpetuating stereotypes, like teaching girls math with shopping analogies and boys with football ...


Not to hit you guys over the head with this public radio program, but there's another Radio Rookies episode that is definitely worth the 8 and a half minutes it takes to listen. It's the story of Kaddeem Wright, a 16-year-old boy born in Costa Rica who now lives in Brooklyn. Kaddeem starts by talking about how his whole life, teachers have been telling him how smart he is, but that that statement is often followed up by comments about how he is "unmotivated," "lazy," and "not keen on doing homework." He talks about all of the different reasons that ...


This article in The Salt Lake Tribune is about a new Web site called Mighty Authors, which allows students to publish their own books for free on loose paper and for a fee for soft or hardcover books. Launched by a Utah teacher, the aim of the service is to motivate students to write more and to use the site to help teach writing in the classroom. One of the things I hear from educators over and over again is that students are much more motivated and engaged in their work if they have a tangible audience, and it seems ...


Piggybacking on our post a few days ago about Radio Rookies, here's a commentary on edweek.org that talks about how giving kids, especially those growing up under tough circumstances, the resources to tell their own stories fosters resilience and hope. [Psychologist James W.] Pennebaker has found in his research that people facing chronic difficulties in their lives, such as traumatic losses or injuries, benefit greatly from telling stories about their experiences and feelings. In fact, a number of research studies have validated the fact that writing about difficult circumstances is therapeutic for those unable to change what they must ...


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