Monday, September 6, 2010

Ch. 8 - Reinforcing Effort

The reinforcing effort chapter is all about teaching students that effort is a key ingredient in success. The act of reinforcing effort helps students to comprehend that there is a relationship between the two.

There are a few easy methods to help students see this correlation. Teachers can make a rubric showing what they believe to be "good" to "unacceptable" effort in any category that they believe to be important in classroom success. They can then give the students blank spreadsheets so they can rate themselves. After they have graded themselves, the students can highlight the Total Effort and Grade cells and create a new graph in which they can see the coorelation between the effort they expel and the grades they receive. Another example the authors gave was a math teacher who used his unit on graphing to help his students see that in the relationship of effort and grades, when one works harder, his grade is generally higher than when one doesn't work as hard.

It is also imperative to show students success stories of older or past students. When students see that their peers have overcome the same problems they have now, it is easier for them to believe they can succeed, too. Rather than just telling your students of success stories, there could be a section on the school website where teachers submit stories of their students. Teachers can also send out surveys to older students asking about how they overcame difficulties by hard work; teachers can then show their younger students the results of the survey.

Until reading this chapter, I never thought about needing to teach students that effort is necessary; it was always so obvious to me. But just because something was obvious to me, that does not mean that every student grows up with parents teaching them that hard work is the only way to achievement. I was lucky in that my parents instilled a great work ethic in me; but I now see that as teachers, we may have to do the same for our students. Using other students' success can be useful; instead of students just assuming, "Well, I'm a girl so I can't be good at math" or paying attention to other stereotypes, if a younger girl hears the story of a girl going to State for math, the younger girl may begin trying a little harder in math class. I also love the idea of using graphs and charts to show students the coorelation between working hard and achieving what they are striving for. As students grow older, this will probably be the most effective method for teaching students what hard work can do. When students see their grades raising as they put in more effort, that is probably a much more profound realization that simply hearing about a success story of another student.

1 comment:

Annie Tillmann said...

Like Sam, I've always thought that putting my own personal best effort was the only option and definitely obvious, but sometimes it was clear which of my classmates were not on the same page about that. Looking at it from a teacher's point of view it'd be really hard to motivate students because just lecturing and telling them a little effort will improve their grades is not really going to work. Again, it goes back to the whole visual learning that I'm so fond of. As soon as you present the information, or in this case the correlation of effort and grade improvement, it becomes crystal clear that there is a positive effect. It also introduces them to working with spreadsheets for something other than just math and money problems, so your students are learning two very important lessons out of this one activity.

They also mentioned using older students model the way their own effort has paid off by taking a survey and then presenting the information to younger students. This would especially be effective whenever students are switching into a new school building, I'd say. It makes it less intimidating because it's "cool" to do your best in put in a lot of effort, because the older students are too.