Ahoy There Me Hearties!

This year’s CBCA Book Week had the theme Find Your Treasure. At Our Lady of the Way, our Library was decked out pirate style, including treasure maps, a treasure chest and an interactive model ship. For our Italian lessons, this prompted an opportunity to spark the students’ intrinsic motivation.


So how can teachers spark their students’ intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic means to come from inside.

  1. Know your students.

Discover what they’re interested in and how they learn best.

Considering the theme and cross-curricular activities, the pirate ship in the Library and associated pirate activities like treasure maps and treasure hunts, inspired me to ask my students if they would like to create pirate maps in Italian lessons. The answer was a resounding YES! They copied down all the symbols from the maps in the Library and shared these with the class. Students wrote English and Italian words for the symbols.

  1. Give them ownership of their environment.

Involve your students in creating the guiding principles of your classroom community.  

During class, students asked about making up clues to search for the treasure. They also asked about using a key or legend. Students created digital books about treasure hunts. Students created school treasure hunts with symbols and written clues.

  1. Make sure they have a solid foundation.

Explicitly teach basic skills so that students have a solid foundation of knowledge to build on.

Students wrote all the words on the legend in both English and Italian and labelled the symbolic pictures on their maps in Italian. Students wrote descriptive sentences about the clues on their maps and treasure hunts.

  1. Practice setting goals.

Setting students goals improves motivation and achievement encourages a growth mindset.

Using the key words, students created clues to participate in a real search for the treasure hunt, based on the poetic clues from the Library activity.

Students viewed the video clip from Scootle – “La caccia del Tesoro” – Treasure Hunt in Rome in Italy showing Italian students going on a real treasure hunt.

  1. Give specific feedback.

Focus on their strengths.

“Your ideas to include clues and using a legend for your maps were useful.”

“Your creative ideas to design a school treasure hunt were valued.”

Students’ engagement allowed time for individual feedback.

  1. Tap into their innate curiosity.

Encourage students to take on assignments simply because they want to know more.  

Students were genuinely motivated to create their own treasure maps and treasure hunts: their original ideas to share with the class and clues for other students to solve.

  1. As much as possible, allow student choice in their work.

Dr Robert Marzano states that when students are given choices they perceive classroom activities as more important.

I changed gears midstream in my planned activities to cater for the inspired interest from the students to pursue their learning in Italian all about creating treasure maps and treasure hunts. Students were given the choice to present their learning in multiple ways: individual or group work, digital books, project paper, school-based.

  1. Get out of the way.

Trust your students to find their own way as often as possible. Michael Linsin states: “Prepare your students for success with spot-on instruction. But then fade into the background. Independent practice is critical to learning.”

I trust the students to lead their learning and I support them in their learning.

Do you use intrinsic motivation as a strategy in your home or classroom? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Minds are like parachutes....



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