As the calendar moves closer and closer to the end of the school year, students’ motivation often begins to dwindle with the days. How can we keep our students motivated and driven by their personal growth? This question is often asked by teachers. Here are some steps to keep the learning train moving full speed ahead in your classroom.
When students enter my classroom, one of the first things I do is give them a literacy learning inventory. There are many of these available. I have found a few I like and used them to create my own. My inventory asks questions about the students’ interests, ways they like to learn, and how they feel about themselves as learners.
After our April vacation, I revisit these surveys. I want my students to see how far they have come. I want them to see that, perhaps, there is still some growing for them to do. Each time we revisit the inventories, students laugh at who they once were and remark at how much they have changed. Those changes are always for the better. I use these comments to inspire students to continue progressing as the year comes to an end and throughout summer.
At the end of the year, I administer a similar survey. I do not collect that one. I tell the students to keep them and revisit them at some point the next school year.
Even younger students can examine their growth. Posters like these can help your students track progress in a very personal and visual way. Looking back at the past is important to students as they move towards the future.
One thing I like to do in my classroom is use pre-assessments. Pre-assessments can help drive instruction. They can also help students to see how much growth they have made. I usually return pre-assessments after a unit so that students can journal about or take notes on changes they’ve seen in themselves.
Students take ownership of the learning that has occurred and pride in their growth and knowledge. Students also are exposed to concepts that perhaps they did not master. They use this information to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Towards the end of the year, I take time to return all pre-assessments to date, (I always keep them handy, even after students have examined them). I allow students time to reread their work. I then give students the task of setting three “big” goals to accomplish before the end of the year. They write them on Post-Its and keep them in their notebooks.
Portfolios of student work are a great resource for keeping students motivated. When students are allowed to finger the pages of previous work, they can see changes in themselves. If they can’t see progress, that is obvious too. By reviewing student portfolios in April or May, you can create goals similar to the ones listed above. Allow students the time, and their intrinsic response will be taking ownership of their learning. Use this as a tool to continue to motivate towards year’s end.
If you haven’t done the front work, there are still ways for you to use student learning to drive your instruction and keep students fresh and excited. Survey them. Ask them their opinions. What do they want to take away from this scholastic year? What can you do to help end the year on a positive note? Allow students time to share their thoughts and opinions. This short activity can help to reignite the flame in several students.
As June rapidly approaches, remember there are many ways you can keep your students motivated. Use what you know about your students to help them buy back into the big goals of your classroom.