Monday, October 15, 2012


“…it isn’t smart kids who do well in school, it’s the kids who do well in school who get smarter” (Fisher, 2012).

Bryan Goodwin of McREL feels motivation is “tied to five key areas: intrinsic rewards, engaging content, student self-regulation, growth-minded perspectives, and mastery experiences” (Fisher). However, Goodwin gives a warning about using intrinsic rewards since a student’s motivation can disappear once the rewards are no longer available. In other words, the motivation is somewhat artificial and may not be sustainable. Instead of rewards, Goodwin recommends making lessons personal, using mystery, and “incorporating imaginative play…[because] imaginative play is critical in developing self-regulation” (Fisher). Goodwin also states that it’s imperative for students to develop a growth-minded perspective. “Students who believe that hard work [not purely intelligence] leads to success are more likely to believe they can control their own fate” (Fisher).
Douglas B. Reeves (founder of the Leadership and Learning Center in Salem, Massachusetts) also gives “five practical techniques to motivate the unmotivated student: give them challenge, choice, significance, feedback, and competence” (2012). So many teachers think students are incapable of more challenging work, so less challenging work is assigned. The downward spiral begins as the students become less motivated and outwardly appear to be less capable. The teachers simplify the work and so the cycle continues. My campus conducted a survey in which students and teachers were asked if they felt assignments given were challenging. Teachers felt the assignments were sufficiently challenging; students felt the assignments were too easy. Another strategy Reeves provides is choice. He uses the word “choice” to describe one aspect of differentiation. This one is hugely important for every student from the highest to the lowest of abilities and knowledge. The teachers on my campus have been provided massive amounts of professional development in an effort to give them a toolbox full of differentiation strategies such as Kagan structures, CRISS strategies, and QTEL. Another of Reeves’s suggestions is feedback. I have become a huge fan of feedback and its value when given in an efficient manner. Research shows that feedback has greater impact on student learning and progress than any other single effort. Coaches and fine arts teachers are great models of the use of feedback for improving performance. Classroom teachers need to apply feedback in a similar manner. This feedback can help students feel more competent (much like Goodwin’s mastery experiences). Terry Heaney (a Learning Strategies teacher at Calgary Academy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada) works with students who have learning challenges. Based on his experience, Heaney says that as students struggle and have more negative experiences, they will be less likely to respond to motivational efforts. However, feedback “can motivate our students more directly with a thoughtful approach to providing feedback on assignments and tests” (Heaney, 2012).
Bob Sullo (2009) incorporates many of Goodwin’s and Reeves’s ideas in Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning. He, too, believes teachers should stop giving intrinsic rewards and instead help students develop internal motivation. Also similarly, Sullo believes it’s important to teach students how to self-evaluate (or self-regulate). The other things he suggests reflect best practices in any classroom. They include making the classroom a safe environment in which students can ask questions, receive feedback, and maintain trusting relationships with the teacher and classmates. Additionally, Sullo stresses the importance of a good classroom management system that provides routines and expectations.
There are many ways a teacher can help motivate students. None are easy, but I believe they are worth the effort if they help students achieve success. I would not want to be responsible for a student’s feeling of failure if I can make a difference. After all, “it isn’t smart kids who do well in school, it’s the kids who do well in school who get smarter” (Fisher).

Fisher, C. (2012). What matters most when it comes to motivating students? Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from:
Heaney, T. (2012). Motivating through feedback. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from:
Reeves, D. (2012). Motivating unmotivated students. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from:
Sullo, B. (2009). Motivated student: Unlocking the enthusiasm for learning. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 5 in EDLD 5363

Well, I attended my last web conference for EDLD 5363 Sunday night. There was a bit of confusion about exactly what needed to be completed for the last week of the course, but Dr. Abernathy was diligent in helping everyone feel at ease about her expectations. Thankfully she understood our work load and relieved some of the pressure we were all feeling by excusing us from posting comments to our class discussion board.

It was also interesting to hear more information about how and why Ed Tech students can work toward their principal certification. It was enlightening to hear Dr. Abernathy’s explanation of why Lamar University now has a master’s program through which Ed Tech students can also prepare for the principal certification. So many Ed Tech students would finish the master’s program and begin work in central administration offices and then be told they needed to have principal certifications. Thankfully, LU responded to that need and created a program to work toward Ed Tech leadership and principal certification at the same time.

Thank you Dr. Abernathy for your cheerful web conferences.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cyber Help in the 21st Century

I really appreciate the help my Lamar University professors have been so willing and eager to give through web conferences. Taking courses online can be a bit intimidating. However, anytime I get a little confused, there’s another web conference I can attend in order to ask my questions. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, if I don’t have the opportunity to participate in a live web conference, I can almost always catch the recording of the conference.

Thanks Dr. Abernathy for sacrificing your precious time, after being away from home, to conduct last night’s web conference…and thanks for answering my questions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Did We Do Before We Could Record?????

Thank goodness for the ability to record! My husband is grateful that he can record sporting events when we are unable to be at home when they are originally aired; I am thankful that my educational web conferences are recorded for my convenience. Although I have had trouble attending a live web conference during EDLD 5363, I have gained a great deal of insight into the course expectations by watching the recorded versions of these conferences.

This week I watched the recording of the November 22, 2011 web conference. Of course I received clarification on some of the expectations for the week 2 assignment, but I really appreciated Brian Conner’s humor. Being a math person as well, I could relate to his viewpoint on a few matters. For instance, many math teachers only know how to use paper and pencil as Brian pointed out.  It helped a lot for Dr. Abernathy to answer questions presented by my classmates. Some of the questions were issues of concern to me, too. I was having trouble understanding exactly what we were supposed to post about the video editing software we had chosen. Dr. Abernathy explained that we needed to make a podcast about how to use that software. She also helped us understand the importance of using subject tags on our podcasts when we put them on YouTube. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that with the video I put on YouTube during week 1; now I know.

It was also very helpful and a relief to know more about what to expect in week 3, 4, and 5 as we work with our groups. I think I even understood that one of those weeks we won’t actually have anything to turn in because we will be building in one week in order to turn in something later. It was also nice to know that I’m already doing some of the things about which other students were unsure. My partners and I have been using a google document to record our collaboration during weeks 1 and 2.

I know I need to attend a live web conference before EDLD 5363 is over, so I am striving to reach that goal. Hopefully the next few weeks won’t be as overloaded as weeks 1 and 2 have been.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creating a Digital Storybook...scrapbooking in cyberspace

Oh my! What an experience. I honestly started this week thinking I wouldn’t be able to create a digital storybook anyone would be interested in watching. My mind truly whirled trying to narrow down ideas that seemed too large to manage. When the idea I finally used came, I knew it was right. The biggest challenge was finding images to use. Although I have many photographs saved, most of my photographs were lost in a house fire a couple of years ago. Thankfully, I found free images on that I was able to use to fill in the gaps between personal photos.

I really enjoyed learning how to create a digital storybook and I look forward to playing with that piece of technology more. I can see great potential in using things like Movie Maker and iMovie to document important events.

I also enjoyed collaborating with Jennifer Canizares and Jennifer Ralston through our google document. ( )