For example, you are required to have a research project in your yearly curriculum roadmap. You write your daily agenda on the board for students to see. Yet, students may view the project as over-inflated because proper MLA citations and scholarly research must be used. You hear them call you "mean" and a "tyrant" for assigning such a project. What they don't see is the big picture--how a research project will help them in their college coursework.
With a little explaining on your part, students can understand how time management skills, research skills, and the writing process are honed while completing their research projects. In addition, these skills are needed in college courses. Sometimes, with secondary students, it helps to bring in an authority on the topic, such as a college professor or a student from the area who is now in college who can explain why these skills are important to learn. You might also mention that every student in the state is required to complete a similar project during the school year. After all, we wouldn't want to be left out or the only class of students in the state without those skills, would we?
Students do not often see the big picture--they don't understand the "why" behind assignments unless educators explain connections to them. Next time you start a new project, try explaining not proclaiming and take note of the attitude and motivation shift within your classroom.
Beth, Educator Helper
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