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Let’s Talk About Me – Getting Your Students Motivated

Today I was reminded about one of the tips that I give my student teachers. If you want to get more students interested in an assignment, have it revolve around them.

I wanted to give them an assignment to reinforce the information we were learning about the Texas independence movement, but I didn’t want to give a boring notes review assignment.

I went back a few years, and I found an activity that seemed interesting, so I tried it yesterday.

I call it My Name In Notes.

What the students do is use their name to create an acrostic that reflects the information from their notes. For example, if their name is Sam, they could do something like:

S – Santa Anna – the president of Mexico who led his army against the Texans

A – Alamo – the mission where the Texans gave their lives for independence

M – Mexico – Americans came to live in the Texas territory of Mexico.

The requirements were:

  1. You need to use at least 10 letters. A lot of students used their middle name or just their last name depending on the length. Some students couldn’t make it work without using more than 10 letters. They complained. I just smiled.
  2. You can only use words that were part of the lesson we were learning. Otherwise, they’ll go back and use terms that won’t help them on the next test.
  3. Include the word and a short description.
  4. Create a colorful final draft that displays your name in notes.

Today, the students came in with their final drafts.

Almost all the students brought in their homework. The turn-in rate was unusually high. It caused me to wonder why.

Then, another surprise.

I didn’t have any plans on having them present their papers in class, but a lot of students asked if they could. I was so surprised that so many students wanted to volunteer to share their work. So I let them.

It wasn’t that interesting. In fact, it was a little boring. They all were basically sharing the same information, just in different ways depending on the letters of their name.

It was interesting, however, that the students were begging to be the next one to present.

Like I said, it reminded me of what I tell my student teachers: Let them talk about themselves, and they’ll have a higher motivation to complete the assignment, and not only that. They’ll want to share what they’ve done with others.

Why do students like talking about themselves?

Because we all like talking about ourselves. We don’t do it, because it makes us look conceited, but we like it. We want to let people know all about us. We want to toot our own horn. We want people to say, “Wow!”

Too bad our society doesn’t allow us to do that, because I really think I’m pretty amazing. (You didn’t hear that from me, however.)

So the next time you have a review assignment planned, don’t give your students another boring worksheet. Come up with an activity that allows your students to talk about themselves and review the lesson at the same time.

Your turn-in rate will be higher.

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  1. February 3, 2011    

    What an awesome idea! I used to use it for the first class getting to know you session when I taught EFL but perhaps I might leave it up the sleeve for later in the year.

    • Sam's Gravatar Sam
      February 3, 2011    

      Thank you for the comment. I hadn’t used it in a long time, mainly because it’s a bit elementary for my eighth graders, but they surprised me. They really got into it.

      Thanks again,

  2. February 12, 2011    

    Thanks for the great idea and the best way to use it. I’ll be trying this for sure first chance I get.

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