Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Elementary Science / Motivation

Elementary Science


Author Post
Jennifer Jones Jennifer Jones 2905 Points

A big concern of mine is to be able to keep my students motivated. Are there motivational techniques that you have been found to be successful in the later grades of fourth and fifth graders?

Karen Rivas Karen Rivas 835 Points

As a student teacher, I am always looking for ways to motivate my students before my lesson. In my case, the students I work with really enjoy watching small video clips on Brain-Pop in regards what we are going to learn, so most of the time that is what I do. In addition, I incorporate students' interests in my lessons in order to keep them engaged because it is very important that they are both motivated and engaged in order to for them to be ready to learn and explore the lesson.

Yara Botello Yara Botello 1115 Points

When it comes to motivations with my students, I have found that they relate more to things they can relate to. If it is something they know they are more motivated than lets say, seeing something new. As a student teacher, I have had to find ways to get my students excited about science. The best is always to find things that they can get their hands on.

Yara Botello Yara Botello 1115 Points

When it comes to motivations with my students, I have found that they relate more to things they can relate to. If it is something they know they are more motivated than lets say, seeing something new. As a student teacher, I have had to find ways to get my students excited about science. The best is always to find things that they can get their hands on.

Holly Kegler Holly Kegler 120 Points

Hi- I am an Elementary Ed. Major. I am really interested in your question because that is a huge worry of mine being a student. I think that classrooms are always changing and what works one year may not work the next. A huge thing that has been taught to me every semester is to get away from the worksheet, there is a time and place for them, but especially with science, there are so many resources and experiments that support a students understanding. Getting into the fourth and fifth grade there is the benefit that they are a little older, let them have a say so in what they do rather they choose the activity or just the organization of the activity ( you wnat to read first or see the video first) They more that they are involved the more connected they are to their education. You can't make everyone happy all the time either so assume there will be students that won't like what you do no matter what.

Dylaneigh Reardon Dylaneigh Reardon 1485 Points

I also am studying to become a teacher and this is a topic that should worry all teachers. Keeping students motivated is essential if you want them to enjoy the subject. From my own experience I know that sticking to the book does not teach everything. There are many inquiry based actives that can keep students interested. Try to use pinterest to see if you can find some fun hands on actives. The internet holds a plethora of actives, use them!

Carmen Cruz Carmen Cruz 2125 Points

This is a great question- as a teacher you have to be prepared, by being prepared I mean having background knowledge on the content that you will be teaching because without it one simply has no idea how to teach it to their students. You have to know your students, establish a relationship early on so that expectations can be challenging, but attainable. When teaching-engagement, engagement (cannot emphasize it enough), it is the key to student motivation. By this, you have to know some of the challenges that your students may have such as learning disabilities, language barriers, etc. Therefore you may have to scaffold some of the information based on your students needs. The last key element to engagement is YOU- your students are only going to be as engaged as you make your lesson to be. If you come in with a positive attitude, encouraging participation, activating prior knowledge, and putting all of your teaching practices into all elements of your lesson, student motivation will definitely be there. But, remember the activity has to be based on a constructivist approach, empower your students to be responsible learners. As a result, students will expand their learning curve, gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful, and students will be determined and motivated to learn! -Best of Luck

Carmen Cruz Carmen Cruz 2125 Points

One last thing, worksheets will discourage students, rather than encourage. In addition, students have difficulty making connections and building inquiry. I was teaching a lesson on circuitry last week, when I was trying to activate prior knowledge and engage, students were extremely knowledgeable of the definitions for circuits, insulators, and conductors. But when they were given a hands on activity they stumbled and had no clue how to close a simple circuit. They had the book knowledge, but unfortunately lacked the application and problem solving. To me that is definitely one of the most crucial elements to learning if we are trying to instill 21st century skills in students, students have to be given hands on activities that will inspire creativity and allow them to make real world connections.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

Carmen, you bring up a great point. Students need not only to be motivated but engaged in the content if we want them to understand the concept we are teaching. They need to find the learning opportunities you present them relevant and interesting enough to engage them. If they are engaged during the learning they will remember the information. Kathy

Andrew Cretella Andrew Cretella 320 Points

I think keeping students motivated is relatively easy when teaching science - that is, relative to teaching math or literacy. This is because you can often get them excited with some kind of live demonstration or hands-on activity, as opposed to math and literacy, which are usually much more symbolically oriented in schools. In other words, show them something or demonstrate something to get them interested, and then give them an opportunity to do it. E.g. showing off the effects of magnets yourself, then giving the students the opportunity to play/experiment with the magnets. From the more personal perspective of things, in my experience it can be somewhat discouraging when you introduce something, and it is immediately met by negativity from the students. However, in these situations I have found that sometimes you can just push through it, because sometimes it's only a handful of students voicing that negativity, while many others are either not reacting, or keeping their reactions to themselves. Continue the lesson, show them something and get them participating, and then sometimes even the students who were not initially engaged become engaged. Work on getting an accurate reading of the motivation of your students. Sometimes it's not the class that's not motivated; just a few, who are more vocal and draw more attention. You might not even notice that many of the students are actually with you.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

Andrew says, " In other words, show them something or demonstrate something to get them interested, and then give them an opportunity to do it. E.g. showing off the effects of magnets yourself, then giving the students the opportunity to play/experiment with the magnets." Because I am looking for student motivation and engagement, I think I would do it the other way around. I would give the students the magnets and the materials and let them explore in pairs. Then I think I would ask them for some claims they might make after having had the chance to play withe materials. At that point, I might step in and say something like " Last night I was messing around the magnets and these are some of the things I found. Let see if any are alike or different. Where they are different, let's test them" Then together we might develop a question,etc. Just my thoughts..what do others think? Kathy

Erin Eckholt Erin Eckholt 545 Points

I always love this topic, so many great ideas have been shared! I also believe that in the area of science engagement and motivation comes so much easier than in the areas of literacy or math. I have found that what keeps my kids the most engaged (4th graders) is when I turn the learning over to them. We do not use text books or any sort of cookie cutter labs. My instruction is driven by the NGSS. I have used several resources to further my understanding of inquiry and problem or project based learning. My students have been the most engaged when working on problem based inquiry. Throughout the inquiry I build upon their background knowledge through reading and research, and connections to our everyday life. Science is meant to be hands on and exploratory. I love the that the NGSS emphasizes engineering and a connection between all disciplines- this really helps the children to see the connection and meaningfulness to their everyday lives.

Michelle Fleming Michelle Fleming 5138 Points

In my own experiences (I have taught 4th and 5th graders) in urban public schools, I have found that by playing up to students' interests in the classroom (i.e. connecting whatever content we are studying to interests, utilizing interests to engage in the content, etc.) students were motivated to work and seek answers to their questions around science content. I have always tried to abide by these three things: 1) Focus - obviously with standards the focus is somewhat provided; 2) Freedom - fluctuating how much guidance I provide as a teacher and how much students are free to develop their own investigations and choose their own "adventure"; and, 3) Responsive environment - having lots of stuff for kids to use to play/experiment/read/research/etc. with in the classroom. Good luck!

Tori Popoloski Tori Popoloski 1500 Points

after reading everyone's thoughts it was a lot of help!

Marcelo Yunda Marcelo Yunda 500 Points

Hello, Keeping students motivated is a challenge that all teachers face daily. I believe that a teacher's job is not only to plan and implement instruction of important concepts in ways that are appropriate for their individual classrooms but also teachers should always consider their students' interests, level of motivation, linguistic abilities while understanding the design of the activities planned for a given unit. I also believe that it is our responsibility to create the right context through which key concepts are presented to our students. We can achieve this goal by designing and exploring open-ended problems with the students. In order to keep students motivated, open-ended problems should be authentic, providing real life applications. They can take form as a long-term project over the course of a unit or a series of problems of a particular type which students can explore and solve as they learn new concepts for that particular subject matter. Another important key to keep students motivated is the teacher's attitude towards the lesson, activity or subject matter. In my own experience, the more positive I stay, the more engaged by students become. This reflection may not be as much of a motivational technique as it is an instructional technique but it can help teachers to keep their students motivated to learn. It has worked for me. I hope you will find this reflection useful.

Kathryn Cleary Kathryn Cleary 460 Points

Hi Holly, I am a pre-student teacher working in a 5th grade classroom. My guide teacher has been following common core protocol since before its recent adoption in California. With every discipline that she teaches in her classroom her approach is always the same. She motivates her students by having grand discussions about the content. Although these discussions can sometimes be long and tedious, her students really respond well to sharing their thoughts on a particular topic. Everyday her students get a chance to discover the meaning of the content and delve deep into their learning. She gives her students the sense that they are scientists discovering a new topic. I wish to instill in my students the same motivation for learning.

Elizabeth Moran Elizabeth Moran 490 Points

Hi Holly, Thank you for your wonderful question on how to keep students motivated. This can be challenging for all educators. I have found that creating a game out is the best way to keep students engaged. It may sound very silly but a simple game such as hangman would be a great way to introduce new vocabulary. Kids love playing games, and it will get them motivated as well as participating in class. Hope that was helpful!

Brittany Brown Brittany Brown 1355 Points

Hi Holly, That was a great question and as a educator it is important to keep your students motivated. A great way to do so, is to make learning fun. Instead of teaching science straight from the textbook, you should incorporate game and interactive activities. Teach lessons through web quest, and games, like jeopardy, or creating a bingo science game. You can always use those games to motivate the students while learning. Your options are endless. Just think outside of the box. The key is to engage them and engagement could be done through fun non-traditional activities.

Astrid Rivarola Astrid Rivarola 2720 Points

I would relate lessons to a positive real-life situation where students can find a connection to. Give them the opportunity to create something new, instead of you giving the activity for the lesson, allow them to create their own by using their own vivid imagination, ideas, thoughts, creations, etc. Students should be able to take active roles in the classroom and teachers should make students feel successful. Hope it helps! Astrid

Melissa Gucwa Melissa Gucwa 795 Points

I am also studying to become an elementary school teacher. I have been fortunate enough to only have positive experiences in the classroom, but I know that will not always be the case as a full time teacher. After reading through all of these comments and ideas, I think all of these are wonderful ideas. I do think all of them would be engaging and help the students remain motivated. I think I will definitely use some of these ideas in my future classroom.

Jennifer Pierre Jennifer Pierre 770 Points

If there is one thing we know about kids, it’s that they have short attention spans. This is especially true at the beginning of the year. What I have found to better help motivate students is to praise, excite, assigning jobs, offering a variety of methods, and handing over some of the control to the students. If students take ownership of what you do in class, then they have less room to complain and become more motivated.

Shelby Royer Shelby Royer 980 Points

To keep students motivated the class and I go through the lessons I have planned for 3 to 4 days our of the week and depending on their behavior we have 2 or 3 days where we conduct experiments or do activities that we vote on as a class.

LESLIE ALFONSO Leslie Alfonso 2105 Points

I think what will help in motivation if there is some type of hands-on activity or lab station rotation where they do different activities as they learn the concept you're teaching. I know it can be time-consuming to plan these but if you do one at least once a week it could help students stay motivated.

Summer Franco Summer Cortez 875 Points

That is a good question and i am interested to see what others suggest. I find that students are more motivated and engaged when they are active in their learning. If a teacher can make a lesson fun and interactive, kids will want to participate and learn. They also will remember more information when they are apart of their learning. But i am definitely open to more strategies and ideas on how to keep students motivated.

Amanda Guzman Amanda Guzman 1005 Points

I am a student teacher so I myself am always seeking ideas on how to keep students motivated and interested when learning. I have noticed that using concrete objects and models helps the students a bit. Also, allowing them to create things on their own helps them stay engaged. As usual, higher level questioning allows the students to want to do further research to find a solution or answer to the questions.

Stephanie Ramirez Stephanie Ramirez 870 Points

I would have to agree with some of the teachers here, incorporating the students will engage them. I worry about how I could possibly keep them engaged in science. I've used lots of hands on activities to keep them engaged. Making science fun can be really easy when you have the right mindset.

Cody Ollre Cody Ollre 655 Points

I am currently in a 5th grade science class. The best thing that i have found to work is making sure that my lessons are hand-on and engaging. They need to be kept busy and moving forward.

Araceli Garcia Araceli Garcia 980 Points

Something that I recently did during a science lesson is I had them do many hands on activities. I had my students explore household items from home to recall the information that they have already learned, I read them a story and had them pay close attention to the illustrations to find forms of energy, I had them do a group activity, and then I had them produce something. I chose a few volunteers to go up to the classroom and present their work. In the classroom it is all about keeping them engaged, asking them higher level questions and having them move around a bit. At the end of the lesson, when the students created something of their own, they had a sense of ownership of their work and were proud to present it. It is not always a piece of cake working with older children, but we must challenge them enough, pique their curiosity and allow them to be creative.

Rosalva Pedraza Rosalva Pedraza 790 Points

With my class I've found that they are excited if I seem genuinely excited. They also enjoy games and mystery. I keep the things I say minimal and let them ask their way into the specific details. They also like when they have experiences to contribute into the lesson so I find something that connects to the topic and to them, something that bridges the teaching to them and makes it personal.

Sariena Cheang Sariena Cheang 595 Points

I would say to be excited about the lesson as well as creating fun activities for them. Students will be more willing to do the work if they are interested in it. Find out what the students are most interested in and find activities that match their interest overall.

Faustino Lopez Faustino Lopez 705 Points

I would also be interested in this as well. There are many way to create fun projects in science for students but I think the key could be to get them curious about what could happen when doing them. I hope to have a great motivational hook when engaging my students from the very start.

Ethan Schoenlein Ethan Schoenlein 510 Points

I think that motivating students, especially at elementary school ages, is all about becoming familiar with and tapping into their interests and learning preferences. I think that we, as teachers, often attribute students' lack of interest or refusal to engage the material to a general lack of motivation. I think that a more likely reason for these barriers to learning would be that they are not being engaged with the material in a way that interests them. This will obviously require a good bit of work in terms of differentiation, as we are talking about appealing to the learning styles and interests of twenty-some children. In the end, I think the hard work will pay well in terms of the effectiveness of your lessons.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers