How well is your district motivating students?
Learning science tells us that motivation is critical to learning. With millions of students learning from home, keeping learners motivated and engaged has never been more challenging — or more important. Wherever students are learning, it’s critical to evaluate how instruction and instructional materials are promoting
(or hindering) student motivation.
Take the Quiz
Students in my district are encouraged to see difficulties as a normal part of learning that can be overcome.
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I estimate that most students in my district are given the opportunity to make choices in their learning…
Multiple times per day
Nearly every day
(E.g. Content choices or choices in the topics they read, write, research, or present)
The approach my district took in returning to instruction this fall was best described as .
Focused on academics, but checking in with students and families when possible
Doubling down on academics as quickly as possible to get learning back on track
Prioritizing building relationships and meeting students’ SEL needs before focusing on academics
When it comes to addressing challenging
and complex national and global issues in the classroom, like racism or global warming,
Avoids such topics, especially in younger grades, as it’s most important to not sow division in the community
Empowers teachers to facilitate conversations around complex current events topics, as they provide critical opportunities for learning
Avoids such topics, especially in younger grades, as it’s most important to not sew division in the community
During spring school closures, the percentage of students who regularly participated in online learning at my district was:
Unsure, we had no way to measure participation
Unsure, we had no way to measure participation.
My district’s approach to giving students agency in their learning is to:
Let individual teachers determine when choice is an element in lessons
Focus on building student choice and agency into curriculum from the district level down
Each school has its own approach to giving students choice and agency in their learning
My district’s point of view on selecting literature/novels in ELA instruction is:
We’ve interrogated our selection of books to include more contemporary and representative texts.
We supplement classic literature with current events or other contemporary texts.
We stick to the classics! Our secondary ELA classrooms use canonical texts.
Students at my district receive adequate scaffolding on grade level content .
Some of the time
Nearly all the time
How frequently does the district update instructional materials for social studies and science?
Every 7+ years
Every 5-7 years, but we encourage teachers to supplement those materials with their own preferred content
Core materials are updated every few years, but supplemental materials are added/updated nearly every year to keep content fresh
When it comes to making instruction more inclusive, my district’s philosophy is:
We should prioritize representation and diversity in instructional materials.
Unclear. I’m unsure of how my district addresses inclusivity in instruction.
We must ensure materials go beyond showing diversity, and expect that they positively affirm all students’ identities
Students in my district participate in shaping the goals that they are working toward.
The approach most teachers in my district take to differentiating instruction can be described as:
Students are split into groups based on their skill proficiency, and receive text content and lessons accordingly
Text content is regularly scaffolded with instructions, audio or video, etc.
Text content is regularly presented at multiple reading levels, and other formats like audio and video are frequently used alongside text.
Your school or district’s student population includes (select all that apply):
20% or more of students are English Language Learners
20% or more of students qualify for free and reduced lunch
20% or more of students are in special education or have IEPs
How many students are in your district?
Extra Large (over 25,000 students)
Large (10,001-25,000 students)
Medium (2,501 to 10,000 students)
Small (under 2,500 students)
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Fill out the form to receive your score.
Your district has obviously been intentional in promoting student motivation through instructional approaches and high quality instructional materials. Take an opportunity to identify exceptional wins and celebrate the efforts of all involved. Sharing effective materials and strategies will further boost instruction and give teachers a much needed boost during a challenging year!
Celebrate and amplify the great work happening at your district
Value of work:
A framework for student motivation
Motivation, a critical ingredient in learning, is driven by 4 basic factors:
Belonging: Does every student feel emotionally supported and like they belong at school?
Self-efficacy: Does every student feel capable of being successful?
Student agency: Do students get an opportunity to help shape their goals and the process by which they are learning to achieve them?
Value of work: Do students understand the value and relevance of what they’re learning and believe that this value outweighs the cost of effort?
Select instructional materials that motivate
To drive motivation and engagement at your district, ask yourself, how is our curriculum giving students choice and is it inclusive, identity affirming, appropriately challenging, and relevant? Audit your instructional materials for these same factors and select content that promotes motivation across all 4 criteria.
Learn more about what the key drivers of motivation mean for your instructional materials
Read the blog
Dr. Rhonda Bondie shares tips for driving motivation through differentiation
Watch the video
See how 3 districts drove engagement and motivation with Newsela content
View the success stories
For more on the role motivation plays in learning science, check out the research done by Transcend, Inc.
Some great engagement practices, and some areas to grow
Outstanding student engagement and motivation are within reach at your district! Review where your district excels, and be sure to celebrate and amplify those wins. This will ensure even more students are more deeply engaged while you determine areas where your curriculum and curricular materials can improve.
Make engagement and motivation a priority
With constant uncertainty and competing priorities this school year, adding yet another priority may sound daunting. Start small by reviewing the 4 factors of motivation and having a discussion with instructors about how they can build on one of them in their go-to instructional materials or in their very next lesson.
Value of work:
Want to discuss your results with the Newsela team?
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