MATHia Motivation Strategies
We are all well aware of how amazing MATHia is, and we have mountains of data to support why spending meaningful time in the software is beneficial to students. We also know that most students do NOT care about data. Telling a student that MATHia will help them become stronger in math does about as much good as telling a 7-year-old that eating all of their vegetables will help them grow. We would love for all students to be intrinsically motivated to work diligently in MATHia, but a little extrinsic motivation goes a long way. There are multiple ways to celebrate success with students that go beyond simply rewarding students for the completion of a workspace. Check out some suggestions below!
Mix up WHAT you celebrate: To borrow a phrase from one of our Senior Managers of School Partnerships, Dr. Chariese Crawford, “you have to inspect what you expect.” It is relatively easy to give out candy, stickers, stamps, etc. when students complete workspaces. But we can also look for ways to incentivize students to meet our expectations beyond completion. We encourage students to do more than simply use the hint button to progress through a workspace. We want students to think critically about the problem at hand and use the embedded supports. We want students to want to work on MATHia even outside of class. Why not reward students who rise to meet those expectations?
- Recognize students who complete the step-by-step example before attempting a mastery workspace.
- Recognize students for spending time in MATHia over a long break or beyond the time allotted in the school day.
- Recognize students who are showing their work on paper as they complete problems in the software.
- Mix up WHEN you celebrate: You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to recognize a job well done. You don’t even have to wait until the end of the week.
- You can use LiveLab as students work and click on the notifications at the bottom and shout out students who are working hard.
- If you give out prize tickets as incentives for time, completion, step-by-steps, etc., you can draw names at random times. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the week or the end of the grading period.
Mix up what you celebrate:
- Randomly reward students who are meeting your expectations. For example, one day, giving a sticker to everyone who brought their device to class was fully charged. On a different day, reward students who completed a summary of what they learned in their MATHia journal.
- Mix up HOW you celebrate: Candy and stickers are great small treats and are often relatively inexpensive. But not everyone is motivated by candy. Here are some other free or low-cost ways to reward students.
- Give students a shoutout on the morning announcements or in the school newsletter.
- Let students add a (school-appropriate) song to the class playlist each time they complete a workspace
- Add a cotton ball to the class jar when you see a student doing all the things you have asked. When the class jar is full, bring in donuts or something similar for a quick class celebration.
- Ask for student input and let them tell you what rewards would motivate them the most. You can also work with students to help them set their own goals regarding time, completion, and mastery, then reward students when they reach them. One year, my students worked to set their own goals, and they got to pie me in the face when they met those goals. Needless to say, they all worked extra hard, and their efforts paid off!
And most important of all, make sure students, parents, and staff all know WHY we celebrate. Incentives and rewards are great ways to get the ball rolling, but it is always with the intention that students begin to see their hard work paying off in additional ways. MATHia is an important part in the blended Texas Math Solution, and students should begin to see connections between what they are learning individually in MATHia and what they are learning together in their class.