I found it difficult to diagnose learning styles, though I think it is valuable knowledge. I believe, like you, in holistic teaching/learning. I wonder if getting to know something special about each student i.e. what their preferences are, what their beliefs are, how they feel about themselves...might be a healthy, holistic approach. One of my mantras is "Students teach teachers how they need to be taught if teachers are willing to listen."
When one of my students is unmotivated I try to first figure out why and if it is a problem I could solve ( bullying, shy, etc). Then I usually try to talk to the student more one on one and see what intests them and what makes them tick.Then I give a survey of interests and then get them books they like on that topic. After that I I let them decide how they would like to share their new learning with the class. Seeing other students get a "special project" usually motivates other and we have a spiral effect. I am not sure how this idea would work for grades other than first grade, but it has done wonders in my classroom!
I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts and agree that motivating my unmotivated students is one of the biggest challenges I face as a high school science teacher. Getting to know my students and trying to find topics that appeal to them does help some students. Other students have not had much success in science and feel that doing well is impossible. For these students I start with simpler tasks and assignments and praise even their smallest achievements. When these students realize that they are capable of succeeding, they begin to welcome bigger challenges. Still other students don't realize the point or importance of education and showing them what education can do for them sometimes motivates them. Motivation is an ongoing challenge and reading everyone's posts has strengthened my motivation to help my students!
Jonathan, I think technology is great. However, sometimes "simple" is a better way to introduce real-life solutions toward motivating the "unmotivated." There's a school on Cape Cod, the Nauset Regional Middle School, where the Occupational Therapist joined with a caterer to introudce children (with and without special needs) to the world of work. They opened a cafe and bakery and it is the most motivating project yet! The students provide breakfast for the staff and bake the items that are sold in the Cafe! This project reminds me of when I worked as a teacher in a group home for children at risk. They were averse to school in general. Making myy responsibility was to give them instructions in both classwork and life skills a challenge. Being a non-traditional teacher, I decided to set up programs where they could learn the Three R's, so to speak, along with life skills. We set up a Wreath Business, wrote and produced a play and created and presented a workshop at a regional conference. The students took an active part in classroom instruction by taking turns "teaching" by following a lesson plan and conducting the class. Amazing what motivators these projects were. They even performed community service at a day center for children with special needs. They had to earn certain of these opportunities and it was a wonderful sight to see them compete for them. Remember, these were children whose claim to fame were things like breaking and entering and illegal drug activity. Just a suggeston. Hope it helps!
Katherine, your examples of projects that teach life skills to students who may not be motivated by school sound amazing (the bakery, in particular — and writing and producing a play feels like a terrific way to help show students the value in self-expression.) I can really see how hands-on experience would help students take ownership of their skills — building pride in themselves and their accomplishments and find value in new, everyday exchanges with others. Great examples!
At minimum, kids need to know that you care deeply about them and are interested in their well being aside from the subject matter. Especially with disengaged kids, make sure that they know that you really care about them by taking them aside and personally engaging with them with conversation and generally showing interest and commititment.
Last night on #SSchat there was discussion of this topic under the title "Engaging the Hard to Engage" moderated by Dave Burgess.
Here's the archive of the discussion.
I have found making creative videos online that I can show in class and PARENTS and STUDENTS can watch at home for review has truly made my students more motivated this year!!!
My goal is to get the 90% of my content recorded this year, and I will work next year to add more in depth topics and branch into other areas of middle school science.
Feel free to check it out, and share it with other educators and students. I make approximately 2 new videos each week to post. Feel free to subscribe to my channel to receive updates when I have poststed new videos!
Hope you enjoy it!