Last week in my team’s EVO session Branka Marceta took the lead and shared a valuable online resource for independent learners, U.S.A. Learns. The U.S. Department of Education funded this collection of professionally-designed presentations and exercises on basic and intermediate topics. The three programs on the site aim to support immigrants in the U.S., but many of the skills covered are those that all learners need to master.
What’s great about the context in which such resources are being shared is the discussion threads that develop among EVO participants. For example, by just reading one exchange between Branka and a participant, I was prompted to think of all the ways we can encourage our students in their studies, especially when some or all of their studies are done online. The more responsibility a learner has to study independently, the more important motivation becomes.
Much has been written about setting personal learning goals to build intrinsic motivation. What else can be done? Branka gave a list of recommended practices to motivate and support students, and the one I found to be very original was the use of e-cards. I’ve actually received some e-cards from students who wanted either to thank me or send holiday greetings, but I never thought about using e-cards as a way to motivate them as learners. Indeed, most e-card sites have a whole category for encouragement and support. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? The occasional personalized e-card could be very effective, especially if timed right after a noticeable improvement or commendable effort. “I love teaching conversation class, and this week I especially enjoyed your contributions. Thank you and great job!” – or – “I just corrected your make-up test. Your score jumped up by 15%. Awesome effort!”
Have you discovered creative ways to inspire your students? Please share them.