As a former teacher, I know the importance of cultivating a community of motivated learners. I’m also aware of the difficulty of this task as there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bringing out the best in each child. Teachers, you, are working incredibly hard to build out sustainable remote learning plans that set students up for success. Alongside this work, it’s important to think through ways to keep motivation high for all learners. Read on to discover tips to motivate your students and crush the monumental task of continued student growth outside of the physical classroom.
Roadblock 1: “I don’t have anything new to read!”
Even with a classroom library, my students would sometimes struggle to find new reading material that sparked their own interests. Your students might be running into the same problem at home.
To combat this issue, direct students to Freckle’s ELA library and get their attention by asking if they prefer fiction or non-fiction texts. Inside each of these genres, they’ll find multiple sub-genres that spark even more interest! Did they love your read aloud of Wonder? Guide them to read realistic fiction to connect on a deeper level with a character. Do they love watching the latest Disney movie? Suggest the Fantasy genre for a boost of whimsy. You could send out a quick survey or create a genre bingo card to encourage reader preference reflection.
You can entice reluctant readers by letting them know Freckle recently expanded the number of articles and stories each student can access. To highlight the expanded options, let’s look at a student reading at a Level 6C. Previously, their choice of topics was limited to 13% of the Freckle text library. Now, this same reader has access to a whopping 82% of the topics. Additionally, short reading passages help guard against frustration and loss of focus for some readers.
Roadblock 2: “I’m trying to complete math problems, but I’m getting stuck!”
Parents and caretakers are busy at home [we built this Freckle at home guide for them], older siblings are completing their own assignments, and some students are feeling helpless without classroom support. As monitoring and feedback are difficult to sustain from afar, it is important to help students’ build strategies to help themselves.
One way to help students solve problems independently is to review the resources available when completing a math session. First, make sure they know that the “hint” button now appears before they select an incorrect answer to preemptively help steer their thinking. Next, encourage them to click the video button to get a breakdown of the skill. If you notice your class struggled with a particular concept, you can download the skill video from the standards page, share it, and ask students to watch the video and discuss their understanding or lingering questions.
If you are virtually meeting as a class, leave time for students to share out their experiences overcoming confusion and challenge. I’m sure students would love creating their own list of Freckle success tips!
Roadblock 3: “I really miss your fun and engaging lessons!”
Maybe you aren’t hearing this exact comment, but hey, a teacher can dream! Students might be sending this same message in a more subtle way. I urge you to think about the students whose faces light up during some of your most engaging, well-planned lessons but struggle to maintain effort and focus during other parts of the day. These students thrive on engaging, structured lessons and might not be adapting as easily to the free-flowing nature of online learning.
One solution to bringing back a more traditional lesson structure is to utilize Freckle’s social studies, science, and inquiry-based lesson plans. These lessons could be split into multi-day virtual class meetings and adjusted to meet your own time restraints. To further engage students, propose three lesson topics, and start a class poll to vote on their favorite option.
To see how these lessons can be adapted to be taught virtually, be sure to check out the full video lessons we created:
Roadblock 4: “I already know all my math facts! I’m so fast!”
My former third graders were obsessed with mastering their math facts. Take a look at your students’ usage of fact practice and see what type of practice would help them grow. Are your second graders ready to attempt some multiplication facts? Would your fourth graders love to explore multiplying and dividing integers? Throw together some different combinations of fact practice in an assignment and see who can rise to the challenge!
Roadblock 5: “I miss our classroom competitions!”
A classroom community can thrive with a dose of healthy competition across classrooms. I encourage you to reach out to other teachers and set-up a friendly competition that could include most coins earned in a week, most assignments completed in a week, or most passages read in a day. If the coordination of this idea seems daunting, take a more direct path by encouraging students (grade 3+) to set their own weekly goal on their student homepage, meet that goal, and claim their reward.
The challenges of remote learning are real for everyone involved. Remember, even the smallest teacher move can spark a massive payout in student motivation. Keep up the fantastic work and keep the dialogue around student motivation going within your school teams. We admire, respect, and believe in you all.
If you have found other ways to motivate your students within Freckle, please share your ideas. We’d love to share them!