Secret to the Universe When Motivation Wanes

silhouettecircle_201403One of the things I do is coordinate the Fast ForWord program in our district.  This program uses the knowledge of neuroscience to provide intensive intervention to students identified (using Response to Intervention Model) in Tier 3 or Tier 2 who are significantly struggling in reading.

Many times I’ve been asked “how do you motivate students”? This is usually during the time when the newness of the Fast ForWord exercises (plays like video games) wear off and it’s clearly drudgery that takes over.  This might happen during week one (sigh) or perhaps pop up in week three.  If you’re lucky, you won’t see the effects for quite some time.

One of the challenges of any program is that teachers expect the program to be the motivator and all they have to do is get the student into the building.  While Fast ForWord does have embedded bells and whistles, when you hit the wall, it just isn’t enough. My secret to the universe is no secret at all.  It is simply … “relationships“.  Relationships that build on being the champion of the individual student.  It is overt and open and honest, not simply implied.  In good times and bad. Students need to know that you are the ‘wind beneath their wings’, especially when they get tired and frustrated. The act of learning to read is a strenuous workout for the brain (equal to a marathon run). Knowing that you have a safe harbour to rest, gain strength and much needed encouragement goes a long way.  Put another way, Bev Ogilvie says,

bk_connectzoneorg

“connectedness makes the world go round. It brings out creativity and helps everyone around us flourish. … It engenders hope, rekindles our inner light and allows us to feel joy. Our power comes from who we are, not from what we do or what we have.” [ConnectZone.org. p.162]

These words ring even more powerful as we go through our busy days. Sometimes I feel it takes super powers to stop, remind ourselves to purposefully and intentionally take the initiative to connect deeply with our students, to listen with open hearts and in doing so, help them feel they have a belonging place. Relationship is foundational to the process. However I have no right way to go about this. How do you go about building relationships or connections with your students?  Would love your comments or suggestions.

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App #10 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

App #10: Partner a beautiful image that you’ve drawn or photographed with interactivity and you’ve got Thinglink. These rich interactives provide another way to curate and organize information. I’ve written about this before using the SAMR Model as an example (developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D) and also here where I was participating in CLMOOC.

Thinglink offers interaction tools that tag photos or images with a a whole group of content, adding a layering effect. The system is built on the use of tags to add more information like audio, other images, web links, video, text information and anything else you might think you wish. Images can be from multiple sources and even a collage of images built through a program like Picmonkey (see App #8) or Pic Collage (app on ipad).  That leads me to think, why not use this as an infographic to visually showcase statistics. Swap PowerPoint with Thinglink and see where it takes you. Use Thinglink to connect all your flipped videos on your blog.  Or have students explain their science experience  or self assessment through sequenced captions. Teacher-Librarians – have you considered this as a tool to teach research skills or how to vet the mountains of information found? 

Simple tips: Sign up for a teacher account. Search inside the site and you’ll find other interactives giving you more ideas. thinglink_xmas

Click on the image to see a message for the holiday season.

App #3 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

app_BookcreatorApp #3:  What happens when you bring together an ipad, an app, words, thoughts, and sound?  Why Book Creator of course. This app for the ipad is a thing of beauty when it comes to creating ebooks.  Images can be drawn or photographed and inserted along with text.  As well, audio can enhance both the background environment and allow student voice. Several options are available for the published copy – email, export as pdf, sent to iBooks shelf or opened via other online apps. ibooks_shelf

Imagine using Book Creator to merge your research projects, collaborate on a writing series, produce an e-portfolio, create library bank of work for others to read. I think there might be a “passion project” in this?

How would you use this app?

Book Love

Book Love

Book Love by Penny Kittle shares stories on how readers develop depth, stamina and passion. Though written with adolescents in mind, the message is absolutely appropriate for elementary age.  She states that the path to difficult reading begins with books that students enjoy. To build capacity for reading requires practice and lots of it to build stamina.  This reminds me of exercise. Anyone who’s tried distance running can attest to the need of gradually increasing exercise over time. Building stamina to get over that hill and then add another hill the following week takes energy and committed focus.

Kittle does a great job of offering strategies integrated into the day to achieve the desired effect – passion for reading. A great read for those who are interested in supporting the reading process.