Review: The Motivation Equation

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past 19 years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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motivation-equation-cover-w-shadowKathleen Cushman‘s multimedia ebook The Motivation Equation delivers a cogent, action-oriented read for teacher and administrator alike to design learning that is challenging, possible, and worthy of the student’s attempt. Her ability to explain how the brain learns, using neurological research, illustrative examples, and teacher and student voices turns a “heady” topic into an accessible conversation.

The premise of The Motivation Equation is “given the right conditions, we all learn.” But what are the right conditions? Using the character of Ned Cephalus to represent the adolescent brain, Ned takes us through his “Gr8” — 8 simple guidelines (backed by research, teacher examples, and student voices) to reinvigorate any classroom environment. In addition, she includes a wealth of tools (e.g. lessons, reflection tools, videos, websites, books) to further rich dialogue on motivation.

As educators, we want to push ourselves to design learning where students can take an unfamiliar problem, challenge, text, or task and make sense of it. We want our students to be in the driver’s seat: they become increasingly comfortable to play, problem-solve, fail, grow from feedback, and revise so they can become confident and capable thinkers and communicators. Not only is this in alignment with what the Common Core and other rigorous standards, but this also lines up with what students want: a learning environment grounded in curiosity, connection, and application.

In the last few days or weeks we have left of summer vacation, take the time to read The Motivation Equation and reflect on what the right conditions look like in your classroom or school — given the relationships you create, your passion for the subject, the instructional activities you design, the feedback you provide, and the expectations you have. Based on that reflection, act using the resources at hand. Share what you are doing on the Just Start site to inspire other educators and work through problems using the wisdom of our community.

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