I have been following the lecture/don't lecture argument for quite a while. No offense, but I see that many of the participants have college addresses. Although you may not believe it, if you are teaching in college your students have already demonstrated some desire to learn.
As a high school teacher I have taught every conceivable level of mainstreamed student. We have now discarded all forms of "general math" (once known as arithmetic) at the secondary level and all students must complete at least algebra I and geometry in order to graduate. (Yes, we still have a few students who can graduate under the old requirements, but that is being phased out rapidly.)
Crudely, I think most students can be categorized as cans or can'ts and wills or won'ts. Can and can't is irrelevant since performance, not potential, is what actually counts. None of us have any problem teaching the wills, and among the wills we usually hve some borderline can'ts for whom we all go that extra mile or more. Wills will learn in any environment because they want to succeed.
Our problems students are the won'ts and we have too many of them.
I would like to suggest that we start a new topic of suggestions about things that do work with the wont's. As I say in my classroom, wrong answers are great because they let us find out where the tangles are, so any great ideas that failed will also contribute to our understanding.
Here a some things that I have found work some of the time: 1. Stickers for good grades. Even my 19 year olds like stickers on their papers and a lot of students pel them off the papers and wear them on their shirts. 2. Graphing calculators. For some students who simply couldn't, or believed they couldn't, solve an equation, the GC was a miracle. On the other hand, a lot of the won'ts found even the GC too much work. 3. Happy phone calls and notes home. Even when the parent did not respond to the message, the student was thrilled that I had called or sent one. (And some parents truly have a ho-hum attitude.) 4. ABSOLUTELY a last resort, but effective. Seat the won'ts together in the back of the room and basically ignore them unless they are disruptive. Kick them out for disruption. Oh, but you have to let the kids decide themselves if they are wills or wonts ( a good place to talk about the differnce between won't and can't). Since I truly beoeive that all mainstreamed students can be cans, I use this as a chance to make sure they know that won't is an attitude, not an ability level.
Any failures? Sure - group work has been a disaster, but I plan to regroup, rethink and try it again.