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Working with Students who are Unmotivated, Apathetic or Disengaged (6 th -12 th ) Presented by Jean S. Rosborough Special Education Consultant.

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Presentation on theme: "Working with Students who are Unmotivated, Apathetic or Disengaged (6 th -12 th ) Presented by Jean S. Rosborough Special Education Consultant."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working with Students who are Unmotivated, Apathetic or Disengaged (6 th -12 th ) Presented by Jean S. Rosborough Special Education Consultant

2 Our Desired Fundamental Beliefs for Students Learning is of value & worth the effort Acceptance of goals set by others Realization that learning or achievement allows them the ability to initiate desired change or goals

3 What are the fundamental beliefs held by disengaged students? Learning is …… School is…….. Academics are…… Fundamental= basic facts or principles Beliefs= a vague idea in which some confidence is placed

4 Sense of Self Sense of self develops from a student’s social experiences with other peers and adults. A student actively constructs and revised his sense of self based on increased age and experiences. Students in the middle years develop an awareness of distinguishing between their own emotions and those of others….which is needed for developing a mature self.

5 Crisis of Industry vs. Inferiority A student’s continuing sense that he can achieve and that his industry will pay off is shaped by his earlier successes and failures in school.

6 Crisis of Industry vs. Inferiority These kids tend not to suffer from inferiority which would be feelings of poor self-esteem, a sense of inadequacy or a general lack of competence. CII: gives healthy students motivation to achieve particular, definable standards of excellence. Students require persistence and support to achieve higher standards of excellence, to master industry over inferiority.

7 Role of Socio-Economics The difficulty to conduct school as we have in the past is that the students who bring the middle-class culture with them are decreasing in numbers and the students who bring the poverty culture with them are increasing in numbers. »Payne

8 Achievement Motivation Learned Helplessness: a tendency to prematurely give up efforts to achieve a goal & assume a certain problem can’t be solved w/out even trying. LH occurs from repeated failure in the past to solve a problem or to escape from an uncomfortable or painful situation. The student exhibits low persistence, high levels of anxiety and avoids challenges.

9 Achievement Motivation Piaget believed what mattered most was the approach to a task rather than the importance of the task itself.


11 Learning-Centered Brain Research Focuses on the mechanics of brain activity occurring during learning Recognizes what parts of the brain play integral roles in the process of learning and memory Highlights the importance of memory pathways in the development of Positive Emotional Memory.

12 Memory Pathways in the Brain Learning can be exciting when students relate new information to past experiences This connection lets them personalize the learning and increases opportunities for its placement in the memory system. What if past experiences were negative? Disappointing or frustrating?

13 Emotional Memory By associating a given lesson with a past emotional memory, the academic memory will be linked and related to the past emotional memory.

14 Brain Growth Neurons: cells in the brain and nervous system that conduct electrical impulses to, from and within the brain. Axon are for outgoing signals Dendrites for incoming signals There is lifelong growth of the support and connective cells that enrich the communication between neurons.

15 Brain Growth Dendrites increase in size and number in response to learned skills, experiences, and information. The more a skill is practiced, (or learned) the more dendrites are produced! Creating more grey matter within the brain. If the skill is stopped and not practiced, the dendrites are “pruned” due to lack of blood circulation to that area.

16 Neuron with Dendrites

17 Formation of Disengaged Students However these dendrites can be developed to “support” undesired memory paths or learning. Learned Helplessness is the result of dendrite formation around negative experiences associated with learning.

18 Affective Filter An emotional state of stress in students during which they are not responsive to processing, learning, and storing new information. Through the use of PET scans there is objective physical evidence that during periods of high stress, new learning just doesn’t get in to the information processing centers of the brain.

19 Affective Filter The amygdale is part of the limbic system of the brain. PET scans show that when the amygdale is in a state of stress, fear, or anxiety- induced overactivation, new information coming through the sensory intake areas of the brain cannot pass through the amygdala to gain access to the memory circuits.

20 Limbic System (involved in smell, emotion, motivation& behavior Frontal Lobe Hippocampus

21 Memory Circuits To gain new information the student must consider it important; if so it travels through the limbic system (amygdala) and then new synaptic connections are formed and the information will be stored in relational and long-term memories, which will be available for later retrieval.

22 Terms Synapse: gaps b/w nerve endings where neurotransmitters, like dopamine, carry information across the space b/w axon extensions of one neuron to receiving dendrite. If there isn’t a receiving dendrite, then it is form! Thus leading to new neurological pathways!


24 Importance of New Dendrites The formation of new dendrites means that if the “old” synapse (memory) path was “math is hard, I suck at math,” a new synapse path can be formed to: “Hey building bridges is fun, kind of cool and its math” If these new (memory) paths continue to be formed, then the unused paths are pruned.

25 Importance of Dopamine Is a neurotransmitter than carries information (for memory) across the synapse. Dopamine is associated with attention, decision making, executive function, and reward-stimulated learning. Dopamine increased within the synapses in response to rewards and positive experiences.

26 Importance of Dopamine PET scans reveal dopamine release while subjects are playing, laughing, exercising, and receiving acknowledgment (praise) for achievement. So how does this information about Dendrites and Dopamine change our approach to teaching disengaged students?

27 Positive Emotional Memory By associating the lesson with a positive emotional memory, the academic memory will be linked and related to the Positive Emotional Memory. Memories with personal meaning are most likely to become relational and long-term memories available for later retrieval.

28 Current Neural Circuit for Learning New Information Affective Filter in Amygdala blocks Information storage Personalization of Learning Past Negative Experience

29 Positive Neural Circuit for Learning New Information Enters Relational Memory System Personalization of Learning New Positive Experiences New Information

30 Today's Agenda Creating Need-Satisfying Environments Educators as Memory Enhancers, not just Information Dispensers: –Learning promoting learning –Stimulating their senses –Element of surprise –Episodic Memory and Experiential Learning –Maintaining Alertness and Improving Memory Retrieval

31 Creating Need-Satisfying Environments Students behave on perceptions they create, regardless of whether those perceptions are accurate or not. Spending time dissuading student’s of their beliefs of learning is counterproductive Need to address their need for belonging; freedom; safety; fun or power; depending on their needs

32 Creating Need-Satisfying Environments Off task student: social belonging: create a role within the classroom so that she can get the interaction she needs Non compliant: strong sense of freedom; allowing alternate ways to demonstrate knowledge Disengaged; finding a safe way for him to be successful; using hands on ways to demonstrate knowledge

33 Creating Need-Satisfying Environments Class meetings allow students to feel connected to the teacher by feeling listened to Listening by the instructor will aid in discovering what the students know about new topic areas therefore increasing avenues by which to expand off of their existing knowledge.

34 Educators as Memory Enhancers, not just Information Dispensers: Need to move from rote memory b/c students forget facts which have low interest or emotional value Learned facts with no context or relationship to student’s lives are stored in remote areas of the brain. Therefore there is a need for brain-based strategies.

35 Brain-Based Strategies (BBS) Decreases the amount of rote memorization Increases the student’s access to more effective memory storage retrieval therefore students retain new information by activating previously learned knowledge that relates to new material.

36 Learning Promotes Learning A BBS recognizes that engaging in the process of learning actually increases the capacity to learn. Each time a student participates in ANY endeavor a certain number of neurons are activated. The more times one repeats an action or recalls information the more dendrites sprout to connect new memories to old and the more efficient the brain becomes in retrieving the memory or repeat the action

37 Learning Promotes Learning Therefore just triggering the beginning of the sequence results in the remaining pieces falling into place (Repetition-Based Sequencing) Disengaged students need continuity of support: daily checkin to start day of well; as simple a smile, joke or caring daily at a given time can start a sequence of positive emotional memory.

38 Learning Promotes Learning Neuroimaging: facts can be learned easier if the student makes a connection between the fact and previous known information. Parts of the flower: Pistil : similar to what organ in the male reproductive system? What does it do? Ovary is similar to what organ in the female reproductive system? What does it do?

39 Relational Memory The process of connecting new information to related experiences or memories adds to what they already mastered then they engage or expand on “maps” already present in the brain. What if the “maps” are negative? How would this affect the student’s learning?

40 Element of surprise Our brains are structured to remember novel events that are unexpected Surprise can bring brains to attention As simple as unanticipated demonstrations, something new, unusual, or as easy as an anecdote or enthusiasm in the teacher’s voice

41 Element of Surprise Follow these elements of surprise with questions such as What did you see? Or Hear or smell? What surprised you? What do you want to learn more about? What did this information remind you of? These will act as spring boards for discussions to develop avenues of new knowledge to blend with known information.

42 Episodic Memory and Experiential Learning Another form of BBS that relies on the different regions of the brain where specific cognitive activities take place. These regions are fed data from brain centers that collect information from the senses and emotions. The more complex cognition (student active learning) the more memory retention

43 Episodic Memory and Experiential Learning When working memories are built thru a variety of activities and they are stimulating multiple sensory intake centers of their brains; the brain develops multiple pathways leading to the same memory storage destination so memory can be retrieved by more than one of cue. Memory could be triggered by sound, sight, touch, or smell!

44 Episodic Memory and Experiential Learning Event memories are tied to specific emotionally or physically charged events; such events have a strong sensory input. Experiential learning that stimulates multiple senses such as hands on discovery is not only the most engaging but also the most likely to be stored in long-term memory.

45 Maintaining Alertness and Improving Memory Retrieval Teachers need the ability to read body language to know when it is time for a brain break> Syn-naps! Syn-naps need to occur before depletion (of neurotransmitters) occurs and before stress builds up in the amygdala which will inhibit new information intake.

46 Rebuilding of neurotransmitters take longer if they get depleted otherwise the student just needs a few minutes If an overload does occur then negative relational memory is developed regarding the information or topic. Breaks can include getting up, get a drink, conversation with another etc. Maintaining Alertness and Improving Memory Retrieval

47 During the break, the new information goes from the working memory into relational memory Once the break is done return to the new information in a new format = Student Centered Cementing Strategy This will move the information from relational memory to long term memory

48 Student Centered Cementing Strategies Multiple forms of review, such as concept maps to provide framework for retrieval Visual imagery: Visualize the historical event using words or pictures on paper Personal Relevance: Tie the information to their lives. Think, write about the connection, and share with a partner Role-play or pantomime

49 Maintaining Alertness and Improving Memory Retrieval The more avenues of learning the materials the more pathways are developed to retrieve the information. This is a good time to use Venn diagrams, generate mental images and/or create metaphors and analogies.

50 Brain-Based Strategy Checklist Keep student anxiety and stress low Punctuate lessons with attention- grabbing moments Improve student memory and retention by making connections to previously learned material, personal experience, and positive emotional states.

51 Brain-Based Strategy Checklist Enrich lessons with multisensory input Access multiple intelligence strategies authentically connected to the material.

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