Activity 2: Motivating EACH Student to Learn

Activity Guide

If research shows that motivation is a primary factor in improving student achievement, then let’s talk specifically about what you are doing in your classroom to increase motivation and student engagement. Research also shows that with the increased pressure and stress for success in the classroom, learning becomes more superficial and less enduring. This article introduces you to Motivation Theory. Motivation Theory “provides ideas to create the learning conditions that foster deep thinking and creativity among diverse young and older learners” (Ginsberg, 2014, p. 27).


  • Reading: “Motivation: The Key to Academic Success in Culturally Diverse High Schools,” Principal Leadership, December 2014, pp. 26-30.


Discussion Preparation

  • Distribute the reading or the link prior to the discussion so that staff can read closely and highlight important passages that support and encourage improvement in instructional practices.
  • Set up a viewing station for staff who would like to view a clip on YouTube explaining the four R’s: rigor, relationships, relevance, and results. (See Module 4—Rigor and Relevance.)

Faculty Discussion

Here is an opportunity to apply the four conditions of the motivational framework to your instructional practices in the classroom. Reflect on your lesson planning. Give specific instances of practices that demonstrate how you apply each motivational condition. Finally, discuss the motivational framework for culturally responsive teaching and compare your practices with their suggestions. Since motivation must be evident for both teachers and students, how do you continue to engage with and motivate colleagues on your team and/or at your school?


  1. As much as possible, ask participants to sit in instructional or grade-level teams or with content-area groups. Those without a team or department may choose to sit with a team or group that has relevance to their content area.
  2. Limit group size to eight to ten participants or fewer for best discussion participation.
  3. Name one of the four motivational conditions that energize learning.
  4. Begin the conversation with the question prompts.
  5. Read aloud the four motivational conditions established through the motivational framework on pp. 29-30.
  6. Another way to visualize the motivational framework: Cleveland High School has aligned the motivational framework with the four R’s. Study figure 1.2 on p. 30 and answer the following:
    • Does figure 1.2 suggest other strategies that could be added to the previous lesson component discussion?
    • How has this discussion impacted your instructional practices?

Extend and Apply

Work within your instructional teams to design and plan a learning-based project for your classroom that challenges and engages students. Work collaboratively with your colleagues to design an engaging project that motivates students to learn, achieves learning goals, contains opportunities for student choice, and provides a lesson plan with all four of the criteria of the motivational framework (or the “four R’s”). Use the Discussion Guide Planning Templates to successfully design new program initiatives.