Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cultivating Motivation or "Grit" in a high school Blended Learning setting

Motivation, or the newest buzz word for it, "grit," has long been a topic that educators debate.  Famous is the saying that, "you can't teach kids to care," and although true, there are factors that can contribute to fostering an environment that supports, encourages, and even cultivates any amount of "grit" that a student may have.  And truly, everyone cares about something.  Sometimes this is the difficult part for us to realize - that students do care about something, but we just have to link what they care about to the activities in the classroom.

The simple truth is that an adjustment needs to be made for us as educators to teach skills and applications (where you would use this much needed skill) rather than the piece of literature itself.  The "How" and "Why" has become, for our students, more important than the "What."  I believe that this shift is most likely permanent in our classrooms of digital natives.  After all, if you don't know it, you can always Google it!  And this is a difficult realization for some of us.

Having said this, it is far easier said than done.  Educators by and large agree that by high school, many students have lost some degree of intrinsic motivation towards the education process. "What's the point of this?," is a phrase that is not uncommonly heard in a high school setting.  Fortunately, ELA has the strongest support and retort to this question and it is one that should be employed more frequently in my opinion.  "Because YOU need to know how to communicate with the outside, professional world in an effective fashion so that you can be successful in whatever college, career, or instantly famous billionaire type situation (insert NBA player, Rapper, Lottery Winner, etc. here) that you imagine you will most definitely achieve."

By tying the skills and abilities that are being taught in the classroom to the students' own goals for their futures, we can regain some of that lost intrinsic motivation.  But the trick is to find out, and successfully apply the students' own longer term goals.

Please check out this link regarding motivation for more information.  I found it to be extremely helpful.

Cult of Pedagogy - Student Motivation

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why A La Carte?

As with all elements of teaching, we as educators are constantly striving to improve our methods and delivery of instruction.  With the arrival of the digital age and the digital native, we are forced to learn new ways to deliver rigorous instruction in order to effectively communicate with and educate our students.

Enter Blended Learning.

For many educators, some inclusion of technology in the classroom has been a norm for the last fifteen years or so.  However, use of technology is not enough.  Students have changed; the way they communicate has changed, and the way they find information, and therefore learn, has changed.   So our communication and delivery of instruction must also change in order to meet the educational needs of our students.

The A La Carte model of Disruptive Blended Learning enables the student to be in control of when, where, and to some extents how, the instruction is being absorbed.  In many ways, the student becomes responsible for his own success by removing obstacles that could previously have impeded him. Gone are the days of "my dog ate my homework," and "my alarm didn't go off."  Instead, we allow for the student to be the author of his own learning by self-selecting time and place for interaction with the material.

However, this does mean that our students must have some amount of motivation or "grit" in order to be successful.  As educators however, we all know that if a student has ownership of, and sees validity in, a task, the chances of their effort increase.  By giving a student the freedom to select and personalize his experience with the material being learned, "grit" or motivation increases simply through the student's ownership of the classwork.