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Selecting a Motivational Activity

Careful selection of a motivational beginning is the most creative, if not perhaps also the most difficult aspect of planning a lesson. Some helpful guidelines for selecting and presenting a motivational activity include the following:

  • Brevity
    So as to allow time for teaching the content of the lesson, teachers should keep the length of the motivational activity to a minimum.
  • Focus
    The motivational activity should not become the lesson. It should be a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  • Appropriateness
    The motivational activity should match the students' level of ability and interest.
  • Resourcefulness
    The motivational activity should draw on interest already present in the learner.
  • Transparency
    The motivational activity should clearly connect to the content of the lesson, as well as reveal the lesson's goal. Success here will determine how effective the motivational activity was.


Conclusion A teacher can use a host of motivational activities that have the ability to invigorate the first few moments of a lesson-that critical time when students' attention and interest might be won or lost. Using activities like those discussed here, a teacher can capture his or her students not only in those first moments, but also throughout the lesson, making learning a joy, not a chore. The rewards can be boundless.

About the Author

Alfred S. Posamentier, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education and Professor of Mathematics Education at The City College of the City University of New York, is the author of more than 40 mathematics books for teachers, secondary and elementary students, and general readership. He is also a frequent commentator in newspapers on topics relating to education. Dr. Posamentier has been a frequent speaker at National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conventions and has been a long-term reviewer of new publications for The Mathematics Teacher journal. Dr. Posamentier is also co-author of Sadlier-Oxford's Progress in Mathematics program for Grades K-8.


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