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Have You Ever Had A Student Say “This Is Boring”? Here’s A Lesson On It I’m Trying Out Tomorrow

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Tomorrow, I’m doing a lesson on the importance of “grit” and a “growth mindset” (I have the full lesson plan in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, and additional resources at The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit” and at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” ).

One of the elements of the lesson plan has us reviewing the difference between a “fixed” and a “growth” mindset, and then students explore some of the challenges they face and how they might deal with them from a “growth mindset” perspective.

Before they start making their list, I’m going to share this short read aloud on boredom I’ve written based on several research studies that have come out over the past few days. I don’t know about you, but I periodically have a students shout-out “This is boring!” during a lesson (which is followed by this conversation: Me: Is it okay for you to think that? Student: Yes; Me: Is it okay for you to say that to your friends between classes? Student: Yes; Me: Is it okay for you to tell me that privately and respectfully? Student: Yes; Is it okay for you to shout it out in class? Student: No). I thought this Read Aloud might be useful.

I’m publishing it within this blog post, and you can also download it here.  Let me know if you have ideas on how I can improve it!

 

“This is Boring!”

We have all experienced times as a student when we have felt bored.  Sometimes, it’s because a teacher hasn’t done a very good job of preparing a lesson or teaching it.  Teachers can get make mistakes or get lazy.

Sometimes, though, there are other reasons why students can get bored.

Studies have shown that stress students might be feeling about their lives outside the classroom can make them more likely to feel bored by school.

Researchers have also found that we generally find the first time we do something or even hear something (a song, for example), we tend to find it pretty interesting.  However, as time goes on, and we do the same thing (or hear the same thing) often, it’s easy to get bored by it.

They call it “satiation.”

Scientists suggest that, in addition to teachers working hard at creating and teaching more interesting lessons, students can also take responsibility for slowing their “rate of satiation.”

They suggest that students can acknowledge their negative feelings as they start to get bored (though they don’t necessarily have to say it out loud in class :)  ).  At the same time, they can try to focus on positive learning opportunities.

Researchers had people listen to a boring piece of music.  Participants who learned the importance of distinguishing details of the music, and how to look for them, enjoyed the music much more than others.

In other words, when they started feeling bored by just the “surface” of what they were listening to, they were able to become more interested in it by looking at it in a deeper level.

In our class, for example, if you started feeling bored by doing one of our projects, you could remember that learning makes your brain grow stronger, or about how focusing can help you develop more self-control, or how you are strengthening your “grit.”

None of this research means that it’s not the teacher’s responsibility to create a positive learning environment.  However, the next time students begin to feel bored, they might want to take a moment to consider what they could do about it, too.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/art-markman-phd/boredom_b_2000662.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/10/10/07boredom_ep.h32.html

By Larry Ferlazzo, http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

3 Comments

  1. “Researchers had people listen to a boring piece of music.”

    Who determined whether a given piece of music is boring?

    There is hardly anything more boring than having to bear up under listening to a narcissistic adolescent repeatedly announce to the universe, “I’m bored.”

    Some years ago there was a cartoon (New Yorker? Atlantic?) of a couple looking through a hospital nursery window at an infant holding up a poster which in large block letters said, “ENTERTAIN ME.”

    One task of the incipient middle and high schooler is to empower himself to entertain himself, as there will come a time when there is no subservient adult around to respond when he announces, “Entertain me!”

  2. Pingback: Helping language learners motivate themselves | efl-resource.com

  3. This week, my school will not only be starting a new quarter but a new schedule as well, one that includes a “growth” period. So, I am really excited about finding this post and others related to a “growth mindset” on your blog. I will certainly be utilizing these resources to help my students grow and understand the importance of growth! Thank you!

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