Inspiring Competence and Confidence through Instruction

April 24th, 2017

It’s the end of the school year. As a college student, I am struggling under numerous deadlines and find myself thinking more about my (lack of) summer employment and vacation plans than on my homework, so I found it a bit funny when I needed to write a blog post on motivation and instruction for my psychology class. This marriage of instruction and motivation is especially important this time of year for teachers as students of all ages are getting sick of school and being in the classroom. When I was looking for some inspiration for my own motivation, I found this helpful video and wanted to talk about how teachers can inspire self-motivation in their instructional practices.


In class, we discussed that, too often, students only do work in order to get a good grade, avoid failure, or to gain another extrinsic reward. This is a concept that is reaffirmed in the video when Scott Geller poses the question “How do we get people to be success seekers rather than failure avoiders?” He continues his speech by talking about how he succeeded at drumming because he, his parents, and teachers helped foster a vision of success within him. He breaks this process down into “4 C’s”: Choice, Consequences, Competency, and Community. Students need to be offered choices, have positive consequences, feel competent while doing the activity, and feel a deeper connection to their community. This directly relates to our discussion of self-efficacy in class. Self efficacy, as defined in the textbook, is “A person’s sense of being able to deal effectively with a particular task” (Woolfolk 446).

As I sat down to plan my lesson plan, I really tried to incorporate this idea of self-efficacy and making sure students feel competent and able to complete an activity. In the lesson that I planned, I would be teaching students about Auto Insurance. In this lesson, the class would go through a simulation and make choices about what types of coverage they want or don’t want. This skill would then be further demonstrated and cultured in students by watching funny commercials and looking a driver profiles in groups and having students recommend coverage for people in the commercials and driver profiles. The positive consequence offered to students is helping them envision themselves owning and protecting their own car in the future. Finally, students can experience a sense of community by laughing together at commercials, discussing in groups, and going through the simulation as a class.

Walking through Bloom’s Taxonomy, students will be introduced to concepts in the simulation. Then, as the simulation progresses, watching the types of coverage in action will help them REMEMBER and UNDERSTAND how different types of coverage work and can save our simulation character money. Next, students are expected to APPLY what they learned by recommending coverage for our characters in different commercials. After that, students will ANALYZE a driver profile and recommend coverage for the person based on the information in that profile. Student will be expected to EVALUATE and explain why they recommended that type of coverage. Lastly, students will CREATE their own experience by returning to the simulation on their own and making their own individual choices about the type of car and coverage they want.

This lesson was designed to meet the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction- Business and Informational Technology Personal Finance Standard 5 which states “Students will explain the features and roles of insurance when making choices available to consumers for protection against risk and financial loss.” This lesson helps students understand how auto insurance can protect against the financial risks against of operating a motor vehicle.

This lesson, although it fits nicely in a Backwards Design Template, was first formulated using the Madeline Hunter Template for lesson planning. I found the Backwards Design template was not helpful in helping me think about specific activities and didn’t provide me with enough structure for creating a specific lesson plan for one day of instruction. I might consider using Backwards Design to begin planning for a unit, but I prefer using the Madeline Hunter Template for lesson planning. As someone who likes to think about things in chronological order, I prefer using the Madeline Hunter template, versus the Backward Design template which focuses more on the big picture. This big picture structure advocated for by the Backwards Design template would make it very useful in unit planning.

To see my lesson plan- click here. Auto Insurance Lesson Plan

Overall, my goal in my lesson plan was to create a lesson that allowed students to take an active part in their learning experience and create their own individual learning experience that they could apply directly to their lives. It was this life application that I hope inspired students to feel competent and confident in making their future auto insurance decision.


Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology: Active Learning Edition. Pearson.

Addressing Elephants in the Classroom

April 5th, 2017

Step out your front door. Look around in a grocery store. Scroll through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You don’t have to go very far to encounter diversity in America. America’s diversity is one of its most beautiful characteristics, yet is also one of its largest hurdles. Diversity comes in many forms. Although race is often the first thing that comes to mind, diversity also includes those of different religions, ethnicities, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, and abilities. Being a teacher in American society requires interacting with diversity in the students, staff, and the community and finding a way to identify and accommodate differences in the classroom.

Some of these differences are identifiable through observation or documentation, however, others require getting to know students personally. For example, when accommodating those students with disabilities, there is often an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that documents their needs and how to accommodate them in the classroom. However, religion and ethnicity may require listening to students when they talk about their experiences, background, and home life. One of the best ways to accommodate students even before you begin to get to know them is by using a multicultural approach to education. Per Woolfolk, multicultural education “promotes equity in the schooling of all students” (Woolfolk, 255). In other words, multicultural education means providing a well-rounded education that analyzes questions and topics from multiple perspectives and is open to new perspectives. However, as a teacher finds out what students’ beliefs and values are, they can utilize those ideologies in the classroom to help students stay engaged and connect with the material. However, multicultural education is really not possible unless you get to know your students.

This is a phenomenal and powerful video about assigning identity to people. In this video, Amal Kassir, an American spoken-word poet, activist, and writer, addresses the importance of not assigning someone an identity. Using humor, she addresses the fact that you really can’t be educated unless you ask “what’s your name?”. Looking at Amal, it is easy to assume that because she wears a hijab, that she is a Muslim, and that because she is a Muslim and wears a hijab, she has extremist views on what women’s rights are. However, if you actually get to know Amal, it becomes pretty clear that she has really unique views and perspectives. By listening to Amal and incorporating the life experiences of minorities in the classroom, you have the opportunity to not only make them feel comfortable in your classroom, but also the opportunity to open a new world to other students.

In conclusion, a multicultural education mean more than just talking about a certain religion or providing accommodations just because they identify in a larger category. Accommodating for diversity in the classroom means actively listening to your students to discover their values and beliefs and helping them to apply their values and beliefs to their education.


Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology: Active Learning Edition. Pearson.