Saturday, January 24, 2009

Motivating children: A useful reference for teachers

Here's a quick review of a very practical book, "3 Minute Motivators" by Kathy Paterson. It offers a lot of practical help for teachers in trying to maintain children's engagement, and regaining their commitment to learning and attention in the midst of a typical day in the classroom. Motivation and engagement are keys to learning so any help that teachers can gain in this area is invaluable.

This latest book has more than 100 simple ideas that help the teacher to refocus a group, motivate and regain student attention when it is waning. Her basic premise (which any practising teacher will acknowledge) is that children's attention spans are limited and hence at times teachers need to shift their attention and give them a break from the activity at hand so that they can get back on task with new energy. Her '3-Minute Motivators' employ a variety of strategies including relaxation, physical movement, word and sound play, chants, conversation, brainstorming, pencil and paper activities and so on. All are designed to be completed in a maximum of three minutes. While they act as transition activities or attention 'breaks' in learning, they also offer potential for new learning in these brief lesson segments. Like all books of this 'What can I do on Monday?' type it assumes theoretical justification rather than outlining it, but Paterson's ideas sit comfortably with what we know about children's learning and the importance of motivation and engagement.

You can find the book and look at the first chapter (free) here.

The author Kathy Paterson is a teacher and drama specialist with more than 25 years of classroom experience. She is a popular speaker and writer who is also involved in teacher training with several universities on issues around differentiation and effective teaching practices. For a full list of her publications click here.

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