Question Detail

Motivating High Schoolers?

Jan 30, 2013 8:17am

What strategies have you found to be effective in motivating high school students to participate in Algebra I? I have one student in particular who is constantly sleeping in class and refusing to participate in the variety of activities that we complete (lecture/notes, stations, cooperative learning, discovery activities, etc).

  • Math
  • 6-12
  • Assessment / Behavior / Class Culture / Differentiation / Engagement


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    • Feb 2, 2013 1:03pm

      I use protocols to engage students. I have collected data for three years that shows high engagement level for high school students that use protocols for learning. Go to the SRI site or the Right Question Institute for free protocols. They can be used in all disciplines. They provide DI, micro democracy, a safe learning environment and natural behavior management. Yes they really do work this well.

      • Feb 2, 2013 6:40pm

        First of all, yo have to ask them why they sleep in class and refuse to participate in the activities. Then you might be able to offer a solution to their sleeping situation and refusal to participate. Try to find the root cause of the problem and not a symptom. Have an honest talk with the student and I think you can easily turn the situation around.

        • Feb 2, 2013 8:24pm

          Problem-solving in pairs / small groups usually works in my Algebra 2 classes, especially if they are at an appropriately challenging level.

          Believe it or not, stamps work quite well! I have used stamps of various designs (stars, hearts, and holiday motifs) for years . . . it's amazing how students will complete their work to get stamps! :)

          "Speed Dating" and other game-like settings often get all students involved in the process.

          • Feb 4, 2013 11:23am

            I teach 10th Grade English/ESOL and one of my students kept falling asleep in 1st Period, never had his h/w ready. This went (in my mind) from mildly amusing to his classmates to a blatant disrespect and (again, in my mind) non-compliance.

            In response to a writing assignment --- the topic was, "What You Need to Know About Me to Teach Me" --- the student informed me that when he got off his bus each day, he changed clothes and went directly to work at a restaurant, which closed at midnight... if they'd had a busy evening, it took them more than an hour to clean up, and he typically got to bed at 2:00am. His parents usually got the family up a 6:00am for school and work, so he was getting 4-5 hours sleep most nights.

            I found ways to accomodate him, and he stuck with me.

            I'm sure there are exceptions, but haven't personally encountered a student who "didn't care"... not always easy to discover what they care about, but once you get your "hook" in, almost anyone can be brought in.

            Good luck.

            • Feb 2, 2013 11:20am

              Telannia, I don't guess I know what PBL is. Can you explain?

              • Feb 2, 2013 3:08pm

                Richard, by "protocols" do you mean the QFT - question formulation technique? That's all I could find at the Right Question Institute, and I'm not sure I ever found the right SRI website. Can you be more specific?

                • Feb 3, 2013 6:55am

                  Hi Alice, The Q Focus protocol can be used before starting a unit-you can use it to prepare students for formative or summative assessments as well. It creates ownership even for challenging students.
         is the site for lots of great protocols.
                  Enjoying the collaborative spirit on this blog.

                  • Feb 3, 2013 7:09am

                    I am not sure that using one particular teaching method or another is always the answer, especially since it only concerns one student. If you change your entire teaching methodology for PBL,or any other, it might contradict what your objectives and goals were for the entire class, and maybe interfere with your syllabus.. You have to develop intrinsic motivation by praising, increasing responsibility, and increasing autonomy. It should be a plan to implement, rather than change your entire system around.

                    • Mar 20, 2014 10:53pm

                      Kids are a blank hard-disk or a blank DVD disc or blank pen-drive.

                      You can write anything you want to to write in that

                      each kid have ability to do things by own self.
                      they have more solution for current problems

                      let them give direction
                      give them scope to think

                      once they find the way
                      they start reading
                      they start finding solutions

                      Be a consultant rather then dictator

                      Make a list of social problems facing by your country and society.
                      find out NGOs working on that

                      Let them explain meaning of opportunity.

                      so many developing country facing learning English
                      let them know that their native language is English
                      In that way they may realize the value of a language.

                      Use this kind of examples and finding reason to why do they have to learn what they learn.