Eyes on the Prize - Keeping My Students Interested

February 13, 2019
I recently read a paper, “The Four-Phase Model of Interest Development.” As I read this research, I wondered - am I already incorporating elements based on some of these ideals? What can I change, add or modify to improve my instructions?

Each time I step into a classroom I try and gauge the level of interest in students. I know that I have a significant role in student development, which includes getting them interested in what I present in a lesson. If a student isn’t initially interested, then my interaction, my content hopefully sparks their interest.

According to the paper, the four phases are: triggered situation interest, maintained situational interest, emerging situational interest, and well-developed situational interest.

Triggered situation interest
Last week in my Monday media writing class I started the lecture with intensity. I prepared some opening lines about writing press releases. I told them no matter what you gotta have ‘eyes on the prize.’  If you don’t get the story in your press release produced, what’s the point?  Following the rules doesn’t always get it done.  Then, I added this surprising information - I spoke to an Assignment Editor about what types of press release she thinks are effective.  She shared some insight, and I passed that knowledge onto my students. 
Expressed interest in the topic new and unfamiliar - check
Added surprising information - check
Gave some personal relevance - check.
It appears I’m using some techniques outlined in the research based on triggered situational interest.

Maintained Situational Interest
So I got their attention with the introductory lecture.  On Wednesday we didn’t have class because of a snowstorm, but I still wanted them focused.  I maintained my persistence and attempted to sustain their interest with something meaningful.  I had them write a press release about the snowstorm.  I wanted a press releases from a hyper-focused perspective.  So, they had to write a press release as if they were trying to get someone to do a story from their dorm or apartment location during the storm.  When we resumed class on Friday students were given time in class to work on their actual assignment for the week. They were allowed to have another student look over a press release from a different assignment and make copy edit suggestions.
Focused their attention - check
Maintained persistence to sustain their interest - check
Created a cooperative group work environment -check
I’m two for two.

Emerging Individual Interest
Each lesson builds upon the next. We continually go back to the fundamentals of journalistic writing. I want them to know they’re growing. I want them enthused and feeling positive about the course. As they are more and more comfortable, they share personal insight and curiosities beyond assignments.  I do believe about half the class feels like their efforts are effortless.  The journalistic writing style is coming easy to some of them, but that’s not the case for all of them.  I don’t believe the class as a whole is experiencing Emerging Individual Interest. Their curiosity hasn’t completely taken over, and they aren’t setting their own challenges beyond the rubric.
Continued engagement with content over time - check
Enthused and positive about lessons - check
They have value in the knowledge I’ve given them - not everyone yet
They a looking beyond the rubric - no

Now I ask myself, what can I do to improve all student emerging individual interests? The first thing I can try is to ask them questions about what they are finding confusing or what aren’t they applying in projects? 

In every class they do freewrites.  I give them five minutes to just write, without worry of grammar or punctuation.  Perhaps in my next class, I will ask them to write about how they think they are doing and list personal learning goals.  Maybe I could ask them if they have a curiosity beyond the lectures, reading or assignments.  Those are good ideas don’t you think?

Well-Developed Individual Interest
As I’m writing this my confidence in students with a well-developed individual interest isn’t what I thought it would be when I started this post.  We are in the sixth week of the semester, and I’m working hard to keep positive feelings going.  However, only about one-quarter of the class is taking personal responsibility for their learning and engaging me with curious questions about the class and coursework. Only a handful seek feedback from me.  

The research says regression to a previous phase of interest likely will occur without my support and me providing better opportunities for growing personal interest in learning. I do know based on reflection papers some students are independently re-engaging with previous content to a degree.  Some comment on going back to previous lessons and using the resources I provide on Canvas (our learning management system). More and more students are reading their necessary chapters so that’s self-regulation of learning. 

I will say the Four Phase Model of Interest Development opened my mind. Keeping students interested throughout the entire semester will help them succeed in the class. For those currently in a lull, not showing as much interest as the others, I need to re-engage their curiosity and find ways to support their personal interest in learning.                            


Embracing Failure; Not Just a Lesson for My Students

January 20, 2019
I like a failure in the classroom - not in the newsroom. In college you try, fail, learn, repeat. Fail in college instead of failing out there.
Over the years I've created controlled-failure scenarios — lessons explicitly designed for a high failure rate. Yes, I manipulate failure for motivational reasons. From these scenarios students can learn from failure, acknowledge problems and improve the process for the next time. The majority of my students initially hate the lesson, but when it's ...

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Freewrite for students initial thoughts on a class

January 8, 2019

It’s not hard to write, right? We all know words. We're not all sure what order to put words in sometimes. Writing, that’s easy. Editing, that’s hard. I’m trying to polish this very write with elegance.

This semester, I’m teaching media writing. Student will write, a lot. Did I mention they’ll write, a lot? For many, it’s their first opportunity with a media-focused curriculum. I want to know what they’re thinking before we got started. So, if had them write about it. I asked t...

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Their Journey into Writing Begins with Schoolhouse Rock

January 10, 2017

I'm creating visual storytellers.  They learn to shoot.  They learn to edit.  Today, they began their writing career.  Just so we are all on the same page, I wanna make sure everyone understands basic sentence structure.  Subject, predicate, nouns, verbs are basic tools in writing.  Adverbs add spice to sentences. Adverbs are more enjoyable after learning about them from Schoolhouse Rock.

That's right.  I play 'Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here,' in my class.  After that, we do some si...
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The Interview Process and Employment Strategies

December 19, 2016

Why are my students looking so dapper on this day? They've just been through the interview process. My student in the Video Production & Editing Program at Emily Griffith stop producing video for a week.  During this non-production week, they focus on employment strategies. These students are learning vital skills now even though they don't graduate for 7 months. Why?
  • They'll be better prepared for internship opportunities since they have a cover letter and resume ready
  • They'll have the next 7 ...

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Bringing In Former Students as Presenter

December 13, 2016

Do you call on former students as guest presenters? I do.
Do you ask your best and brightest to come
back and share their insight?  I do.  
Do you ask those student that didn't listen, didn't pay attention, didn't perform up to expectations to present? I do.

Anthony Lujan graduated from the Video Production & Editing Program two years ago. This is a profile video his fellow students produced about him in the program.

Anthony is a bright individual.  He simply didn't give it his all while he ...
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Their Journey, just 12 Weeks Old

November 8, 2016
My students are on a journey, I'm simply a guide. We are 12 weeks into the Video Production & Editing Program at Emily Griffith Technical College. The 1st video project student produce is a silent movie. They complete this project after the 6th week. I don't want them worried about gathering sound.  During this 1st project they focus on;

  1. Telling a simple story with a conflict
  2. Aperture, white balance & focus techniques with the camera
  3. Shooting 3-shot sequences with variety (wide, medium & tight)
  4. E...

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Get Them Out of the Building and to a Career Day Early

October 12, 2016
I want my students networking.  I want them learning outside the classroom.  At the NATAS Career Fair they got a chance to both of those vital elements.  I think it's important for them to hear what I say repeated by industry professionals.  It's intriguing that once they here it from them, then they realize what I'm saying is valuable.

Some may wait until students are near the end of their students lives to participate in a career day.  I say get them there as soon as possible.  I push them, ...
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Watch for Mistakes and Then...

October 4, 2016
My goal is to lecture as little as possible this year.  I want to give them just enough information to get out and experience learning.  Today they started their journey into using wireless microphones and capturing relevant natural sound. I walked around, observing as they shot video.  When I saw something I felt would improve them immediately I made a suggestion.

Here's a little video about today.

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They Collaborate Some, Then Collaborate Some More, Then Collaborate Some More

October 3, 2016
l get my class into groups often.  I want them knowing each other as well as possible.  I want them collaborating as much as possible.  Today's class is Intro to Documentary Storytelling.  Of course we watch compelling documentaries.  Today, we watched several short-form documentaries.  In class we discussed the research, planning and approach they could use in producing their intro documentary.

After we watched several of these short-form documentaries I have them get together in teams and co...

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