Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give your students the two minute challenge

If you've been following me for a while, you may have picked up on a few of my philosophies.  First off, I am a firm believer in the idea that motivation must come from within rather than externally.  Second, in order to be motivated to do something, you must feel like there is a chance that you will find success in whatever it is.

This is the big hangup with a lot of our kiddos.  Success seems so distant to them that refusal is a much better option.  These are the failure accepters.  

During her Friday pre-conference presentation for the Secondary Reading League's Day of Reading, Dr. Janet Allen mentioned a simple way to build some confidence in those who are somewhat resistant when it comes to learning.  The two minute challenge works really well as a background knowledge builder, and as long as you can find a few paragraphs pertaining to your topic, you should be good to go!  Here's how she explained it.
  • Give your students a small passage full of facts on whatever topic you are going to study.
  • Allow your students to read it in whatever format you choose.  You can read it aloud to them, have them read silently (if you have a class full of independent readers), or pair them up and partner read.
  • Set the timer for two minutes and have students write down a set number (she suggested ten) of facts derived from the text.
  • Choose a way to wrap up the exercise.  Sharing in a group of 2-3 is great because they can add to their lists during the group time.  Having them all share one thing from their list with the class may give a few a boost just because it's not often that they have anything academic to say.  This will help them to feel competent, and a feeling of competence breeds intrinsic motivation.  
Doing an activity in the classroom like this one will hit several targets at once.  Many of our students come to us with very little background knowledge, and this is a brilliant way to begin building that for the big learning.  But even more importantly, it allows our strugglers an opportunity to feel successful by participating in writing and discussing the topic in a non-threatening way.

Can you turn around Monday and use this strategy?  Many of you can!  Let us know what your plan is or what you have done in the past to make a strategy like this work for you.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

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