Q&A #182

Motivating students

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From: Mary Lou (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 01, 1998 at 17:30:00
Subject: Re: Motivating students

Terri, if I had the answer to your question I would the teacher of the world! Motivation is something that a person has to have him or herself. I think that teachers can interest students and motivate them. You have not stated what it is that you teach. I will imagine that you are teaching Algebra 1. Imagine the situation that the entire student body on the first day of school had to stand all at one time in the gym, and introduce themselves and when the last person was finished they would all sit down. The question might be: how long would this take for 1000 students? To answer the question, do an experiment. Choose three students. Using a stopwatch have someone time in seconds the length of time it takes for the three to stand up, recite each of their names in sequence and sit down. Choose five more students and have all eight of them do the experiment. Then choose 7 more students and repeat the process. Perhaps do the entire process with 20. Now you are going to make some assumptions: 1. the time for the standing and sitting of the 3, 8, 15 and 20 students is the same independent of the number standing and sitting. We will call this the average time. 2. The length of time for each student to recite his/her name will be averaged. Using the number of students as the input and the length of time as the output, graph the data, look at what behavior you observe, and try to write a rule for the behavior dependent upon the number of students. What you are looking for is a linear function: y = mx + b where m is the average time to say a person's name and b is the average time to stand up and sit down. Once this is done you can project for the entire school, you can find for the entire class and you have various options. What if you didn't stand up and sit down? How long would it take? Suppose each person stood up, stated their name, and then sat down before the next person stood up, etc. Ask the kids for ideas. What other activities might be investigated like this? As the teacher, you have to make sure that the mathematics is produced! My overall answer to you: find problem situations that engage the students, and use these as your starting point. Anything that involves money and the lottery is a good subject. Hope you have a good time.

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