A History Teacher Revamping an 8th Grade American Reformers Unit to Integrate the Principles of Motivation and 21st Century Literacy Skills

Middle school is a time of transition for kids. They are leaving the security of one teacher and one class to seven teachers and multiple classes. They are maturing, becoming more independent, and finding their own identity. Many students struggle with all this change and really don't know how to express how they feel, so many act out in ways that are not appropriate. School can seem unimportant because they are preoccupied with thoughts about personal growth and peer relations. It is very important for middle school teachers to first, recognize this struggle, and second, find ways to motivate their students. This “problem” does not only concern middle school teachers. Lack of motivation is a problem for all teachers, at all levels. When the work gets hard, some students give up. Parents who do not value education can lead to a student’s disinterest in school. Another issue is technology, students have every answer at the tips of their fingers. It does not take much effort to find answers, and I believe they think school should be this way too, easy without much thought involved. Lack of motivation prevents learning. It is up to the teachers and staff to have a plan to meet the needs of their students socially and academically. The purpose of this project was to address student motivation through the principles of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. With the help of my Professional Learning Community, (PLC), we created a unit covering American Reformers from the 1800’s. This unit was created to help educators create a motivating learning environment that ensured that each student’s academic and social needs were being met in middle school.