I recently read two books for teachers that I hoped would help me improve my teaching by motivating my students.
150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom by James P. Raffini
I didn’t find this book to be as helpful and useful as I’d hoped. Most of the activities were for a specific age group or a particular subject matter, and wouldn’t transfer well for use in every classroom. The only ones I think I’ll use are the ones that function as “icebreakers.” I think the most broadly relevant part of the book was the way it broke down motivation into filling students’ needs for autonomy, competence, belonging, self-esteem, and enjoyment. From there, it focused on making changes to some structures in the classroom that can either improve or harm student motivation. Those structures were task, authority, reward, grouping, evaluation, and time. More broadly speaking, thinking of ways to tweak those structures to fill student needs could create lots of good changes in a classroom.
The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon
This book gave me a lot of validation because one of the main things it suggests is something I already do in my classroom. Rather than starting students with a grade of 100, so that every assignment is a chance to lose points, I begin everyone with a grade of zero, so that grades only ever improve, and every assignment earns some points, even if it’s not perfect. This grading structure mimics video games in which players begin at level one and gain points until they reach higher levels. It’s much more motivating than a more punitive grading system. Sheldon spends a lot of time applying video game terminology to his class activities, which I thought was less interesting or important than how the actual activities and structures of the class are changed by this gaming focus. There are several case studies that I wish I’d seen more details of, and I didn’t see any case studies in my own subjects, so I was kind of left wondering how my class could become more gamelike. I’ll keep thinking about it though. This book gave me a lot to think about.