Motivating Students in Middle School Classrooms

Strategies for Motivating Students

Dan Pink says that motivation comes from three distinct facets of human need: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. In thinking about how to motivate students in a middle school classroom, there is also the interplay of social and cognitive development that can severely hamper student desire to expend effort or to pursue mastery in a content area. Carol Dweck and Dan Pink are the eminent scholars who have studied the constructs of motivation. Below is an overview of the theory around motivation and how to implement in a classroom. For more detailed information, this is a PPT (with audio narration on each slide) about student motivation and a paper with detailed research and pragmatic solutions.

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Check out this page for a download of a PPT (with audio) and a straight-forward paper highlighting research about student motivation and easy to implement solutions in your classroom.

Non-Fiction Reading Recommendations for Middle School Students


My students complete a quarterly book project. Each project is within a different genre. I have a small library in the back of my classroom that students where students can check out books. I do my best to stay up to date with YA literature so I can provide recommendations to students and parents.


Writing Conferences, Calkins Style

When I originally began teaching, I taught a writing workshop class for 7th graders. Using much of Calkins theory regarding writing conferences, I developed a conferencing system for students based around one weakness in their writing. I built the conferencing system based off the TN Core Writing Rubric, which is very similar to traditional writing rubrics.

When I conference with students, I give them one area for improvement. It’s extremely helpful for students to have one area to focus on when revising their writing. I’ve seen too many students overwhelmed and frustrated by the revision process, and this is a way I’ve aimed to streamline the process in the past.

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