Friday, 8 May 2020

We Can Do This: Five Ways to Keep the Momentum Going

Motivating students to keep up the pace is a huge challenge at this time of year – especially from a distance. With many districts approaching the end of their traditional school calendar, the momentum for learning from home is grinding to a halt. This downshift is especially discouraging for teachers working with students who struggle to read at grade level. They worry that their kids will lose too much ground and have little time to make it up again.

Motivation is the spark that inspires students to keep going. Teachers can re-ignite it by encouraging students to take ownership of their learning. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Top 5 strategies from the BrightFish teaching community to keep the momentum going:

1. Use Student-Centered Tools: Online programs that provide self-paced instruction put students in control of their own learning. Teachers can take on the role of coaches, using data to remediate and redirect students with support and resources. For example:
  • Mastery-based instruction that takes students through an individual learning path.
  • High-interest content in different genres and multimedia formats engages students in their learning.
  • Feedback and rewards that are part of the instruction help to encourage and motivate students to keep working.

2. Plan for Individual Needs: Identify your students’ strengths and weaknesses, and plan for individual needs with different motivational strategies. Here are some examples:
  • Learned helplessness and dependence: students who wait for teacher direction and praise. Providing regular feedback by looking at their data helps to keep these students on task.
  • Risk-averse: students are worried about failing and avoid stress through withdrawal. Programs that celebrate success at each step of the way can be combined with encouragement from teachers that the student is on the right path. 

3. Connect and Share: Encourage students to try these new ways of interacting and learning.
  • Create a forum for students to share their new experiences through reading logs.
  • Moderate an online chat with the class. Teachers are using BrightFish story topics for discussions in science, biology, biography and literary fiction.

4. Encourage Self-Monitoring: Students need to be encouraged to take risks and learn that a certain amount of failure is part of learning.
  • Ask students to evaluate their performance. In BrightFish Reading, they can track their results in each story unit and use the "story tracker" to record their observations and errors.
  • Schedule data chats with students who are struggling in a skill area, such as vocabulary. Ask them to identify where they are making errors and why.
  • Anxious students in particular need reassurance that they can learn. Set clear expectations and have students document the strategies and tools they can use to improve.

5. Reward and Recognize: Acknowledge your students’ progress and provide specific incentives.
  • Praise students one-on-one (or in front of the class) in video meetings.
  • Award extra points for achieving goals. In BrightFish Reading, you can add points for students to use in the online Games Store.
  • Send parents/guardians the weekly certificates for their children with a personalized note of congratulations.
  • Create mystery e-prizes with different contents each week. Create a shortlist of students and place their names in a draw based on qualifying criteria (such as the highest time on task or activity scores.) At the end of each week, draw a winner and post the results on a shared forum.