This first person account on teachermagazine.org of a teacher who was able to get her class on task when she allowed them 30 minutes every Friday to listen to their iPods raises a couple of interesting points, some of which relate directly to issues covered on the Digital Education blog about technology's role in the classroom. Apparently, that half hour of listening time once a week was enough of a reward that teacher Jennifer McDaniel's 9th grade students would spend that time working diligently. However, when McDaniel shared her new technique with her colleagues, she was informed that allowing ...


Quite some time ago, I wrote a blog post wondering how the election might increase motivation levels in the classroom. And according to this story, it looks like my colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo has done my homework for me. The story talks about new online and tech tools that are helping students become more engaged in the election process. Both parties in this election are tapping into students' use of text messaging, online forums, and social networking sites to excite young voters and students, says the article. The examples that Kathleen gives about how students are becoming involved in the ...


If you've read the tag line for Motivation Matters, you know that our goal here is to document what works and what doesn't work to motivate students. And today we have an example of what works, sent in by Principal Paul M. Brennan of the Riverside Elementary West School in Taylor, Pa. "Here is something that works for us in an elementary (K-4) setting. It is a proactive 'Behavior Report (PDF).' The kids really buy into it," he says. Apparently each teacher in the school chooses two students who have demonstrated good behavior for that month to be photographed. ...


In light of the recent wave of schools trying cash-incentive programs to motivate students, it's only fair to point back to a commentary written by Alfie Kohn, an outspoken critic of these kinds of programs and of testing in general. Kohn explains that what is truly important in the classroom is not what the teacher does, but how it is perceived by the student. So if a teacher delivers a well-constructed lecture on a certain subject, no matter how good the lecture is, what really counts is what students gain from it. Likewise, if a teacher rewards a student in ...


Following suit with programs in Chicago and New York, it looks like a group of schools in Washington has now jumped on the cash-incentive bandwagon, according to this Washington Post article. About 3,000 students could earn as much as $1,500 per academic year for good behavior, getting to class on time, and earning high grades. The program, called Capital Gains, is the brainchild of Roland Fryer, who crafted similar programs in New York and Chicago. In light of the economic climate in this country right now, there's another aspect of this program that I think could be beneficial ...


Education Week's Stephen Sawchuk has written an interesting story about a massive reform effort going on in New Hampshire designed to personalize students' learning--allowing them more access to alternative education, distance-learning opportunities, and learning opportunities outside of school, like internships and apprenticeships. Educators hope that tying in curriculum to real-world applications will increase student engagement and ultimately boost graduation rates, says the article. Making learning relevant to students' lives is a huge part of increasing motivation, and I think this is an ambitious and thoughtful effort in that respect, although I do wonder how it will all pan out in ...


This story in The Washington Post is an interesting (though not totally unexpected) twist in the debate over rewarding kids in schools. Apparently schools in the greater Washington area are rethinking the way food is used as a reward for good behavior. Giving students sweets for doing well sends students the wrong message about nutrition, says the article. Instead, teachers are turning to other methods of rewarding students--like allowing them to be first in line to recess, said one teacher. Regardless of what students should and should not be rewarded for, in light of rising childhood obesity rates and the ...


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