The Freshman Transition Network

Working together to transition freshmen & transform schools from the bottom up!

Summer is here! Understandably, most teachers aren’t all that interested in thinking about the classroom this time of year. However, I want to encourage all members of the Freshman Transition Network to begin thinking about something very specific for next year:

How will you inspire and motivate your students next year? How will you get them to learn about life beyond the content of your course? How will you teach them the attitudes and beliefs that they will need to succeed?

Most teachers I know say that they would love to be inspirational and motivational. I think that many of us, though, get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t find the time to actively incorporate motivation into our daily classroom activities. So here’s the idea – let’s try to come up with ideas together over the summer. Let’s use this forum to share things that can be done in class to inspire kids. Share movie clip recommendations and how to use them. Share quotes. Share motivational songs. Share lessons and activities.

I’m planning on regularly adding to this discussion, but I really hope I won’t be the only participant. Imagine if this summer every member of the network added even 1 idea to this discussion. What an amazing list of ideas we’d have! Then when the day-to-day is getting the best of you, you can simply come to this discussion, find an idea, and use it to motivate your students.

So come on, folks – let’s see what you’ve got!

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Great ideas.

I went to Wake Forest for my first 2 years. Maya Angelou is a professor there. I never go to take her course, but my friends who did said she was a very inspirational teacher.

I'm jealous about the Italy trip. Sounds awesome!
Several years ago Maya came and spoke at Palmer College of Chiropractic Medicine. I was fortunate enough to attend. She was wonderful. I could have sat and listened to her for hours upon end.

Italy was awesome! I can hardly wait to share my pictures with my students.
I recently developed a program for ninth grade students I'm Awesome, But I Have My Limitations which is a really nice highly interactive TV-game show style assembly program or workshop to acknowledge significant milestones for 9th graders. It recognizes students for all that they have accomplished thus far. It also points out that they will have challenges ahead (as all students do). and suggests ways of coping with the challenges. I recently presented the program to the entire 9th grade class at a Career and Technical High School in Rhode Island. The program was very successful. The abstract of the program is presented on my page here on The Freshman Transition Network. If you would be interested in a copy of the presentation just send me a message with your email address, the school in which you teach including address and telephone number and the subjects taught. Since I only distribute my presentations to teachers and other qualified professionals I will verify the information. As soon as I complete the verification, I'll send a copy to you (no charge). I could then consult with you on the telephone (no charge) on how to do the specific activities or I could prepare a customized presentation for your school(s) and do the presentations for you (I will do my best to make my presentations affordable for you even if your budget is limited!!! To date, I have always been successful in doing this.)
Let me know how I can be of help to you as you complete your "Summer Homework." Ron
I'd be interested:

Scott Habeeb
Salem High School
400 Spartan Drive
Salem, VA 24153
Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction

Quotes have been discussed so far on this blog - keep them coming along with suggestions for using them.

I thought I'd go ahead another great resource for motivating/inspiring students that's only a mouse-click away - YouTube. Kids love videos. Showing motivational clips or clips with life lessons used to take a lot of work. The millions of members of YouTube have done all the work for you. What about starting off class with a short video clip as a Do Now assignment. You couild do this once a week or every other week and then ask kids to reflect on it just like you could with clips. I promise you that your students would look forward to these activities and that class would start off in a fun way. It would be up to you, of course, to then bring home the point and make sure your students learn the important lessons of the clips.

Several of the video clips on this network would be good to share with your students. I might suggest starting off with the story of Nick Vujicic. It's pretty easy to relate to and is a powerful testimony to what one can overcome. Our students need these sort of heroes. Too often their own lives have been filled with the opposite - failure and then quitting. Nick's example is easy to see and hard to forget.
Thought I'd throw out another video to use with students. This one is also on the network. It's the story of Paul Potts.

The video is obviously moving and powerful. What I like is the behind-the-scenes story of Paul Potts. Bullied as a kid, Paul continued to strive for what he viewed to be his purpose on earth.

Using this video is a great way to talk to kids about their purpose - we all have one! We often fail to realize what it is or fail to work and wait long and hard enough to achieve it. Paul didn't just walk on the stage of BGT one day and win it all. He trained and worked for years. He overcame many obstacles - some self-inflicted, some inflicted by others, some inflicted by life. In the end, he accomplished his dream, is an inspiration to others, and brings joy to the world through his music. What an example for our kids.

You might also download his album, One Chance, from iTunes. His version of O Holy Night is the most beautiful song I think I have ever heard.
Sharing music with students is another way to motivate students and teach them about life. While it's nice to find songs that kids like, the reality is that many newer popular songs lack positive messages. I'll post a few posts this summer with song suggestions. Don't worry though if you think your kids won't like the songs. It's our job to set the mood and the culture of the class. Therefore, just like a good teacher can get students to appreciate course content, the teacher can also get students to appreciate the lesson and messages found in songs that might not be at the top of their iPod playlists.

So here's an example:
The Hole by Randy Travis. (Click on the previous link to see the lyrics and listen to the song.)

This song is pretty hard core country. But even some of my "least country" students have ended up singing this song in the hallway and asking me to replay it.

My suggestion is that you play this song one day AFTER you have shared with them the 5 chapter short story that I shared previously in this discussion - There's a Hole in My Sidewalk. The combo of that story/quote and this song will really help bring home the image of making mistakes being similar to being in a hole. Play this as a Do Now assignment with the words on an overhead. Give the students a few minutes to reflect on the how the song can apply to their lives. Then lead a discussion where they share their thoughts.
I have seen a few of great motivational videos this summer and have purchased them for use during this school year. 212 Degrees, Walk the Talk and Finish Strong are the ones I have purchased so far. Another I saw and plan on purchasing is Welcome the Rain.
Good suggestions, Debbie. I found the following links related to those videos.
1. 212 Degrees - a YouTube version and a site where you can learn more about 212.
2. Walk the Talk - a website with information on the videos as well as many other inspirational and motivational materials.
3. Finish Strong - the inspriational movie and stories online
4. Welcome the Rain - the video online

I think materials like these would be great to show in class. Students would really look forward to the days when they got to "take a break" and get inspired!

The following is an activity which is a blending (doesn't that sound less pompous than "synthesis"?) of two independent activities. The first activity is one which I found on the internet: which is a social studies activity in which students learn about heraldry and the rules regarding the design of coats of arms as they design their own personal coat of arms.

The second activity is one which my partner (Chatham Woods Ltd) Chris Williams devised in which he has his charges research universities and colleges which interest them. They note entrance requirements, cost, scholarships and grants, and courses of study. They also research different occupations and the earnings of each and the educational and other associated requirements for each. All of this research ends in each student settling on a particular college or university and making a personal pendant for their individual choice. So students will have a college pendant at the end of the exercise and with luck clearer and more concrete goals. It is a super program! It empowers the students with knowledge of not only what is expected of them, but
also "how the system" works! Tremendous motivational activity!

All that I did, and I confess that my mind thinks this way primarily because I am stuck in the kid mind set no matter how old I may be chronologically, is to merge the two activities into one so that the kids "create" their coat of arms which reflect their future goals and individual values and strengths on their own coat of arms,
Accordingly, a student might have a shield which had a Lion to represent Old Dominion University, a globe with a dollar sign in it's middle to represent a career in international trade, a bulldog to represent a personal quality of determination and tenacity and never giving up, and a a golden cross to represent the "right path of treating others as you would wish to be treated".This coat of arms can be posted in the classroom or "attached" to their notebooks.

Mark dePaulo
Great ideas, Mark. Thanks for sharing. I think teachers could take this idea right into the classroom and make it a fun and relevant way for students to plan for the future and to analyze themselves.
I've been doing lots of reflecting on things that worked well in my class in the past and I'm trying to create a system to do these things on a regular basis. I couple of years ago when I changed schools, I created a mission for my myself and my classroom that incorporated the district's mission and my school's mission but really focused on what I wanted for my students. Here is my mission:

My mission is to transform students into francophone Francophiles who are self-motivated lifelong learners and world citizens.

I will ensure a climate of respect.

I will honor diversity.

I will foster responsibility and learner autonomy.

I will create and maintain an engaging learning environment.

I will help each student find his/her personal best


Respect... Autonomy... Responsibility... Active Learning... Motivation ...Personal Best...

Teaching every child… learning very day!

My mission is my compas that keeps me focused on what is the most important- What has worked for me in the past has been:

!. Goal setting- At the beginning of the year we set goals and through out the year we discuss strategies to reach those goals.

2. Class meetings and class officers.- I elect class officers at the beginning of the year who help to lead our class meetings. We discuss what is working or not and it also gives them a chance to say something good about someone. It was great to hear the students thank their group memembers for helping them out.

3. Student of the week. Each week I selected a student who had shown growth, who really participated in the class community or had otherwise stood out. I gave a certificate which I posted on the bulletin board for a week and they got candy from France (which they loved).

4. Data folders- At the end of the week, students recorded and graphed their progress that week and it helped them to see how each grade influenced their average. They also had to track their behavior for the week as well.

5. Celebrations and recognitions- I try to start the week with any upcoming celebrations and like to know what the students are doing outside of my class. I had a student who missed school for a couple of days to attend a gymastics competition out of state and he placed FIRST among many college aged particpants. He was not a member of a team at our school so he did not have a coach to announce this great accomplishement on the PA system. I put in the announcement to be read on the PA and you should have seen his face when all of our class applauded for him! We have to know what kids are doing in their every days lives as well!

These things worked very well for me. I hope they can work for you!


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