“Cook Up” Student Motivation with Real World Challenges

Rae HughartBlog

Increase Student Motivation with Real World Challenges

Increase student motivation; don’t limit it to inside the four walls of your classroom!

Every standard, topic, or target should connect back to a real world purpose – otherwise, why teach it? To increase student motivation, give learning purpose with a HUGE emphasis on a student’s learning experience. Through a lesson theme, you can give learning a purpose and answer the age old question “when will I ever use this in the future?”

The Basics to make it happen…

(1) Identify an idea, topic, standard, or target you want students to learn.

(2) Consider how it applies to them. When is this skill utilized in the outside world? Why should students bother learning this material?

(3) Use the real world application of the idea to drive your instruction.

(4) Connect with community members to emphasis its importance.

(5) Repeat.

How it looks in action:

In my class, students learning about decimal computation will be immersed in a themed unit focused around managing a pizza company. Students will wear aprons during their learning challenges, explore the proper tools to ensure customer satisfaction, and practice their serving skills at a pop-up restaurant right in their classroom.

Whats the catch? Oh no! Our computers are down! Therefore, all calculations must be done by hand! What is a server to do?

As students are immersed in a pizza company whose computers are no longer working, learning how to calculate decimals becomes a truly valuable skill. Students can not overcome this real-life challenge without this math skill. With the help of a fun circumstance around pizza ordering, simple costumes, and a believable story, learning decimals becomes an enjoyable learning experience linked to finding success.

Take students’ learning to your community:

An “in house” Review:

End your lesson with a community outreach. Invite guests into your classroom to order from your pop up restaurant. Provide each table with a few different situations they can act out for their servers. Is someone having a birthday party? Ask your student server to sing “Happy Birthday.” Do you have a coupon for $4.99 off your meal? Can your server calculate your table’s total?

A full community learning event: 

Ask your students to create placemats to teach diners about decimals. Ask students to use these at a family dinner or ask your local pizza place to use them during a family night. Talk about taking learning outside of the classroom! With this easy step, students are now enhancing their community with the knowledge they have learned!

The learning opportunities are endless! The question is; how will you choose to take student motivation one step further?