student intrinsic motivation

How to Unleash Student Intrinsic Motivation from Day One

You can unleash a student intrinsic motivation from the first day of school. First, you start the school year with authentic connections. Second, you create a culture of learning.  In today's episode, Mike Soskil, award-winning science teacher and Global Teacher prize finalist, shares his ideas for starting school.

Additionally, he shares secrets for creating a culture that unleashes student intrinsic motivation. While Mike is an elementary science teacher, I learned many techniques that apply to my middle and high school classrooms.

[callout]Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher[/callout]

Today's Sponsor: Freshgrade

[callout]This episode is sponsored by Fresh Grade. Freshgrade has a free tool that lets you create student portfolios. To make them even more powerful, these portfolios can include video, sound, various kinds of media, text and more. In fact, you can even include student and parent comments!

In light of their flexibility, consider using Fresh Grade for your student portfolios. Take time to test out Fresh Grade. It’s free for parents, students and teachers.

[button href=”″ primary=”true” centered=”true” newwindow=”true”]Check out Freshgrade's Portfolio System[/button]

If you go to Fresh Grade’s site, you’ll get a bonus episode with Todd Whitaker about The Biggest Mistake Teachers Make When Giving Their End of the Year Grade.” [/callout]

Show Notes:

  • How letting his students share their learning in more meaningful ways other than passing the test on Friday made magic!
  • How does Mike give students powerful global experiences from the first day of class?
  • What is mystery animal Skype?
  • How does Mike start the school year in a strong way?
  • What do you do and say to develop a classroom culture of respect and learning?
  • Can you help students become more intrinsically motivated?
  • What is the advice Mike would give to himself as a first year teacher?

Michael Soskil @msoskil was a top-10 finalist for this year's Global Teacher Prize, widely considered the Nobel Prize of Teaching. Mike has been recognized for the innovative ways he empowers his students to use learning to solve problems around the globe. Additionally, he was a 2012 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. Currently, Mike teaches elementary science in northeastern Pennsylvania. .

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Myra Guzman August 16, 2016 - 12:24 am

Hi Vicki,
I like the ideas that Michael provided to use as intrinsic motivators from the beginning of the school year. I like the idea of using global learning, this helps to include other cultures into class learning. Michael mentions,”the learning space belongs to the learner and learners should be in charge of learning”. I agree to the ideas as the goal is for students to be life long learners. I also liked Michael’s enthusiasm about his teaching which transmits a motivating attitude to listeners.

Vicki Davis August 16, 2016 - 5:36 am

Thanks for writing! It is a great interview!

Karina Gracia August 16, 2016 - 11:46 am

Hello Myra,
As a high school history teacher, I definitely agree with integrating global learning, as it does help the students learn on multiculturalism with multiliteracies, as well as with intercultural communication. I am thinking about using their summer experiences and connecting them to major domestic and foreign issues, so that they can personalize and make connections on significant trends. Indeed, I want to use some of the platform issues on the presidential election, as well as environmental issues abroad. I truly feel that this would be enriching and would help with, like Michael mentioned, “intrinsic motivators” from day one. As such, I’m getting a bit excited on all the elements of Design that we can use to motivate, as there are endless options. I do agree that the key, is to make “the learning space belong to the learner,” and the more responsibility that we put on the learner’s education, the more that the learner will feel pledged to learn. In turn, this will motivate students to be high achievers.

Jose Ferrer August 16, 2016 - 2:37 pm

Hi Mayra,

I also agree with Michael and what you can do to become a life long learner. I teach 2nd grade math and science and his idea on Global learning through the Mystery Animal skype calls. This is a great way to get students to not only learn from each other and others, but also a great way to collaborate with classrooms from around the world. Having these skype calls also is integrating technology into the classroom. Students are using the internet and computers to connect to others. Great ideas from Michael.


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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere