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What Drives You?

*Snap Inspiration*

What you will need

Time estimate
​5-10 minutes

lesson planning materials


Think about the last time you learned a new skill or dug into finding out about a new topic - just because it mattered to you.

  • What internal motivation pushed you to pursue this skill or topic?

  • How did it feel to master something that mattered to you?


For the next lesson, you plan, ask yourself: will this lesson allow my students to experience that same internal drive to master a new skill?

The challenge, of course, is that most of the things we're driven to learn in our life outside of school have nothing to do with a set curriculum. Most often they arise from a need, a curiosity, a passion, or serendipity. The steady march of a school year can feel like it leaves little room for such organic learning opportunities to occur. But adding just one of these elements to your lesson plan can create the space for students to cultivate a drive to learn. 

Is there some way to add an element of choice to the lesson so students get to choose their own direction? Here are some examples:

  • Choose from a variety of books/readings

  • Pick from a range of assignments on the topic

  • Choose the partner you will work with

  • Chose the format in which you will share what you've learned. 


Finding ways to connect what you are teaching to the lives your students are living can make the difference between learning that is a chore and learning that fuels and hunger for more. Relevance is the answer to "Do we have to know this is real life?" In searching for relevance consider: 

  • Is there a tie between this topic and what's happening in the world today? 

  • How do I use this skill/knowledge in my own daily life? 

  • What interests do my students currently have that could be explored through this topic? 


Here are a few recent examples of how teachers have found that relevance hook: 

  • Connecting lesson on inference to the popular online game "Among Us." 

  • Applying algebra or physics to the recent launch of SpaceX Falcon 9. 


We tend to think of "fun" as something we "get to do" after the work is complete, in the off-hours, as a special treat. But what if we flipped that paradigm on its head and imagined a world in which joy was more the norm than the exception? Where can you find joy? 

  • Engaging with peers on a project that requires students to think collaboratively (not just dividing up a worksheet into parts they do independently.)

  • Sharing our own expertise with others and being recognized for what we know.

  • Being given the freedom to learn independently but knowing someone is always there to help when needed. 

  • Discovering what we and our peers think is funny. 

  • Showcasing work we are proud of. 

  • The unexpected delight of having a teacher remember something unique about you and tie it into the lesson. For example, "This is just like what Sammy told us about a few weeks ago when her dog ate all the cookies off the table." 

  • Reflecting on our learning and realizing our own growth. 

The next time you plan a lesson consider the spaces where you can add choice, make the content or learning experience relevant, or sprinkle in some joy. In so doing you just might help your students tap into their own drive. 

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Great Job!

Did you like this challenge and want to try another?

​The Poster Analysis challenge will help you to explore the implicit and explicit messages in your classroom.

Lunch Date challenge asks you to eat lunch with a group of students, without talking about school.

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