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Short Excerpt From My Upcoming Book, “Helping Students Motivate Themselves”

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I thought readers might find it useful/interesting to read the short introduction to my upcoming book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges. You can see more information, including the table of contents, at that link. The book will be published next month.

Lengthier excerpts will be published in Education Week and elsewhere over the next few weeks, and Ed Week is sponsoring an online chat with me on April 12th to talk about the book.

Here it is:

This book comes out of my seven years of teaching at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California, and out of my previous 19 years working as a community organizer.

This book comes out of my recognizing that in order for me to be as effective as I wanted to be as a teacher, I needed to identify ways that I could help my students not only learn content knowledge, but also develop higher-order thinking skills and the attributes that good community leaders must have, including self-motivation, personal responsibility, and perseverance. More and more research is showing that these qualities are critical for success in careers, college, and in life. In fact, a 2011 review of over 200 studies covering nearly 300,000 students found that simple lessons taught by teachers covering these kinds of topics resulted in substantial student academic gains. (Note to readers: You can read more about that study here in the Washington Post).

And it comes out of my understanding that developing these kinds of attributes needed to be done in conjunction with students gaining the academic skills they needed to learn. In most of our schools today, for better or for worse, both we teachers and our students are primarily held accountable for teaching and learning those academic skills – no matter how important we might believe those other life skills might be.

This book is an attempt to share classroom-tested strategies to accomplish both of these goals simultaneously.

Most, though not all, chapters follow a similar structure:

They begin with a question relating to a common classroom problem, which is then followed by an imaginary complaint/concern voiced by a teacher. Even though it is “imaginary,” I’d bet that most of us have either said or thought something like each concern at some point during our teaching career.

Next comes a section on immediate responses that teachers can take today to deal with the issue. Each response is accompanied with research that supports it. Almost all of these suggestions support the idea of developing higher-order thinking skills and enhancing self-motivation, personal responsibility and perseverance.

A “Setting The Stage” section comes next and provides ideas (and supporting research) on what teachers can do to provide longer-term solutions.

The last section of each chapter includes detailed lesson plans, including reproducibles, to implement some the “Setting The Stage” recommendations. Each lesson plan includes the Common Core Anchor State Standards For English Language Arts, Grades 6-12 that are covered by the lesson. A webpage containing all Internet links for use with these lessons can be found at the Eye On Education website . All the reproducibles in this book can also be found at the Eye On Education site and can be downloaded. In order to download them, however, you must type in the code found at the front of this book.

In addition, the lessons have specific suggestions for how to incorporate technology into the activities. Even though each lesson has a different tech suggestion, most of them could be included in all of the lessons in the book. Those ideas, along with the activities recommended in the free-standing chapter on using technology in the classroom, provide a wealth of different ways to effectively use tech to enhance student learning.

This book is not designed as a road map. Rather, it should serve more as a compass that might help point us, and our students, in the right direction….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Congratulations on your upcoming book. Great title! In providing intervention students I find consistently that only half the battle is teaching students to read. The other half is establishing a work ethic, focus, and motivation.

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