Pow Wow Principal's Press

Vero Beach Elementary 11-18-16

How to Motivate Students

This was such an awesome article, I had to share it with you!!!


The best lessons, books, and materials in the world won't get students excited about learning and willing to work hard if they're not motivated. Motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is a key factor in the success of students at all stages of their education, and teachers can play a pivotal role in providing and encouraging that motivation in their students. Of course, that's much easier said than done, as all students are motivated differently and it takes time and a lot of effort to learn to get a classroom full of kids enthusiastic about learning, working hard, and pushing themselves to excel. Even the best intentioned and educated teachers sometimes lack the skills to keep kids on track, so whether you're a new teacher or an experienced one, try using these methods to motivate your students and to encourage them to live up to their true potential.

  • Give students a sense of control.

    While guidance from a teacher is important to keeping kids on task and motivated, allowing students to have some choice and control over what happens in the classroom is actually one of the best ways to keep them engaged. For example, allowing students to choose the type of assignment they do or which problems to work on can give them a sense of control that may just motivate them to do more.

  • Define the objectives.

    It can be very frustrating for students to complete an assignment or even to behave in class if there aren't clearly defined objectives. Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work. At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules, and expectations of students so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards.

  • Create a threat-free environment.

    While students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, far more motivating for students than threats are positive reinforcements. When teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their belief in a student's abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do their work. At the end of the day, students will fulfill the expectations that the adults around them communicate, so focus on can, not can't.

  • Change your scenery.

    A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.

  • Offer varied experiences.

    Not all students will respond to lessons in the same way. For some, hands-on experiences may be the best. Others may love to read books quietly or to work in groups. In order to keep all students motivated, mix up your lessons so that students with different preferences will each get time focused on the things they like best. Doing so will help students stay engaged and pay attention.

  • Use positive competition.

    Competition in the classroom isn't always a bad thing, and in some cases can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition in your classroom, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge.

  • Offer rewards.

    Everyone likes getting rewards, and offering your students the chance to earn them is an excellent source of motivation. Things like pizza parties, watching movies, or even something as simple as a sticker on a paper can make students work harder and really aim to achieve. Consider the personalities and needs of your students to determine appropriate rewards for your class.

  • Give students responsibility.

    Assigning students classroom jobs is a great way to build a community and to give students a sense of motivation. Most students will see classroom jobs as a privilege rather than a burden and will work hard to ensure that they, and other students, are meeting expectations. It can also be useful to allow students to take turns leading activities or helping out so that each feels important and valued.

  • Allow students to work together.

    While not all students will jump at the chance to work in groups, many will find it fun to try to solve problems, do experiments, and work on projects with other students. The social interaction can get them excited about things in the classroom and students can motivate one another to reach a goal. Teachers need to ensure that groups are balanced and fair, however, so that some students aren't doing more work than others.

  • Give praise when earned.

    There is no other form of motivation that works quite as well as encouragement. Even as adults we crave recognition and praise, and students at any age are no exception. Teachers can give students a bounty of motivation by rewarding success publicly, giving praise for a job well done, and sharing exemplary work.

  • Encourage self-reflection.

    Most kids want to succeed, they just need help figuring out what they need to do in order to get there. One way to motivate your students is to get them to take a hard look at themselves and determine their own strengths and weaknesses. Students are often much more motivated by creating these kinds of critiques of themselves than by having a teacher do it for them, as it makes them feel in charge of creating their own objectives and goals.

  • Be excited.

    One of the best ways to get your students motivated is to share your enthusiasm. When you're excited about teaching, they'll be much more excited about learning. It's that simple.

  • Know your students.

    Getting to know your students is about more than just memorizing their names. Students need to know that their teacher has a genuine interest in them and cares about them and their success. When students feel appreciated it creates a safe learning environment and motivates them to work harder, as they want to get praise and good feedback from someone they feel knows and respects them as individuals.

  • Harness student interests.

    Knowing your students also has some other benefits, namely that it allows you to relate classroom material to things that students are interested in or have experienced. Teachers can use these interests to make things more interesting and relatable to students, keeping students motivated for longer.

  • Help students find intrinsic motivation.

    It can be great to help students get motivated, but at the end of the day they need to be able to generate their own motivation. Helping students find their own personal reasons for doing class work and working hard, whether because they find material interesting, want to go to college, or just love to learn, is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them.

  • Manage student anxiety.

    Some students find the prospect of not doing well so anxiety-inducing that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For these students, teachers may find that they are most motivated by learning that struggling with a subject isn't the end of the world. Offer support no matter what the end result is and ensure that students don't feel so overwhelmed by expectations that they just give up.

  • Make goals high but attainable.

    If you're not pushing your students to do more than the bare minimum, most won't seek to push themselves on their own. Students like to be challenged and will work to achieve high expectations so long as they believe those goals to be within their reach, so don't be afraid to push students to get more out of them.

  • Give feedback and offer chances to improve.

    Students who struggle with class work can sometimes feel frustrated and get down on themselves, draining motivation. In these situations it's critical that teachers help students to learn exactly where they went wrong and how they can improve next time. Figuring out a method to get where students want to be can also help them to stay motivated to work hard.

  • Track progress.

    It can be hard for students to see just how far they've come, especially with subjects that are difficult for them. Tracking can come in handy in the classroom, not only for teachers but also for students. Teachers can use this as a way to motivate students, allowing them to see visually just how much they are learning and improving as the year goes on.

  • Make things fun.

    Not all class work needs to be a game or a good time, but students who see school as a place where they can have fun will be more motivated to pay attention and do the work that's required of them than those who regard it as a chore. Adding fun activities into your school day can help students who struggle to stay engaged and make the classroom a much more friendly place for all students.

  • Provide opportunities for success.

    Students, even the best ones, can become frustrated and demotivated when they feel like they're struggling or not getting the recognition that other students are. Make sure that all students get a chance to play to their strengths and feel included and valued. It can make a world of difference in their motivation.

Accountability Walkthrough 11/17

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DA Walkthroughs

The State DA will be here this Monday.

Please make sure the following is taken care of:

Bulletin boards updated, clean, no rips or tears.

Writing updated outside classrooms.

Tribal Passes up to date and hanging outside classroom as part of a PBIS School.

*** Please take pride in your classroom. Unfortunately, there was a lot of garbage all across the campus in classrooms. Each transition is a great time to have the students "show their vibe" by cleaning their area before leaving.***

Have an activity you want on our School Calendar??? Have no fear...just fill out an activity form with Ms. Yvette. Once the activity is approved it willbe added to the school calendar by administration.

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ESE Adjustments for 11.21 and 11.22

For 3rd - 5th Grade
Ms. Wilson is out on Monday and Tuesday, so Ms. McMillan will be facilitating the groups for all 3rd-5th grade ESE students in Ms. Wilson's classroom with the substitutes. Thank you for your flexibility and understanding!

Messages from Mrs. Van Brimmer

"The ascent to the top of any mountain in life requires the same: a meaningful goal, a map, initiative, preparation, stamina, efficiency, resilience ... And most of all, belief."

We B.E.L.I.E.V.E in you Very Brave Educators!

You have been assigned this mountain to show it can be moved.

The question is: How can we strategically use our resources, strengths, and time to create proficient readers and problem solvers?

Initiative is the next step for any successful journey. A meaningful "destination," and a map are critical elements -- but initiative is going to be what takes us there.

We are so fortunate to have a ton of instructional support staff here to help us along our journey. However, the "difference maker" and the critical element for any school's success is the classroom teacher.

Here are a few questions to reflect on as you continue to grow your own professional practice:

*How do you keep up to date on current trends in education and the subject you teach?

*What changes have you made in your instructional practices as a result of receiving feedback?

*When do you take advantage of setting examples for your colleagues, especially those that are newer to the profession?

*What is the best way for others to provide support to you? What can you do on your own?

November Reading Camp Out: Special thanks to the faculty and staff that helped with the reading camp out this week. Ms. Hatcher's amazing read aloud skills built a great community with our students and their families. I am so thankful for the following people who attended and helped out: Ms. Mathews, Ms. Robinson, Ms. Henson, Ms. Blidgen, Ms. Renninger, Ms. Williams, Ms. Bucknor, and Ms. Sitkowski. Tribe Work Makes the VIBE Work!

Congratulations! These are our top schoolwide AR readers! Way to go fifth grade! Each student will be receiving 100 Wampum and each teacher will be receiving Warrior Wampum for promoting literacy.

I feel a reading challenge coming on!

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Science Fair


Why do we have a science focus with our unit planning?

We used to say third grade focuses on reading, fourth grade focuses on writing, and fifth grade focuses on science because of the way students were assessed. We can no longer isolate our content areas this way. Even though science is not state tested until fifth grade, it is extremely important at each grade level. The fifth grade state science test covers standards from K - 5 (focus on 3-5). In both the 2015 and 2016 science assessment seven of the standards tested were from other grade levels.

When the school grade is calculated it is out of a total of 700 points.

Fifth grade science is worth 100 points alone. This is huge and has a great impact on us being on our way to an A!

The points are determined by the percentage of students that were proficient (Level 3 or above) on the state science assessment.

In 2016 VBE had 22% of students score at proficiency level or above. Imagine the impact on our school score if we have 50% of our students score at proficiency level or above. This would mean a 28 point gain!! This is a school wide effort, not just a fifth grade effort.

Example of a third grade standard that was tested on the fifth grade state science assessment.

For other science sample questions from fifth grade state assessment please click on the following link.


It truly takes a village! It truly takes a TRIBE!

Why is Spiral Curriculum so Important? By Elaine Ragley

In a spiral curriculum, learning is spread out over time rather than being concentrated in shorter periods. In a spiral curriculum, material is revisited repeatedly over months and across grades.

“Space learning over time” is the first research-based recommendation in a recent practice guide from the U. S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences (Pashler et al., 2007). In a recent review of the literature, Lisa Son and Dominic Simon write, “On the whole, both in the laboratory and the classroom, both in adults and in children, and in the cognitive and motor learning domains, spacing leads to better performance than massing” (2012).

Implementation of 4 Square Spiral Review of Standards is being implemented in Grades 2-5. 4 square is a Spiral Review Component to address Specific Standards with multiple days for repetition of the standards and type of questions or items. Students will work daily for approximately 10 minutes completing 4 problems of review standards. At the end of the 10 minutes, the teacher will review the process for answering the questions, and correcting any misconceptions. Students will use pen or colored pencil to mark corrections or to extend thinking. Over the course of days, teachers should witness students becoming quicker in the amount of time need to complete the 4 questions. This being due to the fact that students will have a better understanding of the depth of the standard. After the class becomes comfortable with the process of 4 square, allow students to review/teach their thought process to the class. Remember students that can use Error Analysis as a strategy have a 45% percentile gain in Learning.

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Conscious Discipline - A Reminder by Lisa Segroves

Let the students make their own choice. Don't make it for them. Give students choices instead of making it a power struggle.

For example: A student wants to sit in the same spot on the carpet, starts arguing with another student because someone is sitting there. "You have a choice, you can sit next to Sam or sit next to Becky."