Regardless of the grade you teach, motivation is the driving force behind all forms of learning. In order to acquire and absorb new information, skills and practices students need to want to do so. Before you can motivate your students you must make them understand the relevance of the learning activity or assignment and encourage them to make connections between the activity and relevance in the real world.
The Five R’s of motivation, relevance, real world, relationships, results and recognition can be embedded within your teaching approach in order to motivate your students to become life long learners.
1. Relevance – to the age and ability level of your students…
In order to engage your students in the learning process, it is vital to ensure that the information, activities and resources that you utilize in your lesson plans are suited to your students. You must ensure relevance by aiming at the age and/or ability level of the students in your class.
If you have students of widely differing ability levels then it is important to incorporate strategies that can cater for these differing levels. Group work can encourage peer tutoring, for example, where more able students help less able students.
Activities can be structured to include ‘extended learning elements’ to enrich the task for gifted and talented individuals or more structured and straight forward tasks for students who require additional support.
Catering to different learning styles, for example visual, kinesthetic or auditory can ensure that the teaching approach is relevant to the learner.
2. Real World – How does this information relate to real life and real world situations?
Real life situations can excite and interest the learner and assist them in maintaining motivation and focus.
Placing lessons in to context connects and motivates the learner in ways that factual instruction cannot. Simply asking students to list the ways in which information or situations connect with their own lives can be a great starting point. Tables tracing cause and effect are also useful. For example, if you are teaching the concept of recycling to students, you could ask them to rule up a table with three columns headed ‘Effect on Me’, ‘Effect on my Town’, ‘Effect on my Country’.
3. Relationships – Relating learning to students own interests
Using students’ particular interests to motivate them to learn is an excellent technique. Bringing popular culture into the classroom is an excellent way to do this. For example, using TV characters or popular movies to link with themes of work, a unit on astronomy can be linked with Star Wars movies, learning ABC’s using Dora the Explorer interactive games online.
4. Results – What is the end result of the learning, what is the goal or the outcome or the end product?
Students are highly motivated when they have a clear picture of the end result. What am I trying to achieve? What are my main goals? What is the end result? These questions should be used at the start of a unit of work, so that students then work towards the end goal and stay focused and motivated.
Always begin a lesson by explaining why students need to know the information and what they will achieve by the end of the lesson. This approach focuses on outcomes based educational approaches and has been proven to be a highly effective.
5. Recognition – How to recognize effort and ways to reward effective learning…
Reward good learning! Praise, charts, free time, stickers, sweets, trips, and good grades – the possibilities are endless.