A Visit to a Motivated Classroom


In this clip, consider how teacher Marilyn Garber uses a combination of student-directed and teacher-directed strategies to develop a partnership of learning in her class. How does having students explain their own solutions benefit the class as well as the individual student? What other ways does Garber check for understanding? How does a combination of teacher- and student-directed learning motivate students and encourage their sense of responsibility for academic achievement?

Clip from A Visit to a Motivated Classroom, 2003, Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. The title for the clip, “A Visit to a Motivated Classroom” is what got my attention. At first when the clip started I was hesitant only because I saw the students in the class were older and I am a kindergarten teacher. Right away I had thoughts come across my head to ask myself do I want to watch it? Am I going to get any insight that I might be able to use? I decided to see why the clip had the title “a Motivated Classroom.” Quickly I saw that the teacher was not the only one who was teaching. She had the senior student go over a problem and explain what you have to do to find the answer. Additionally I saw the teacher went over the problems that the students wanted to see on the board. I really enjoyed watching the students were the ones going up to the board and putting the problem up and explaining it to their peers. The peers who are putting up the problem and explaining it can maybe explain it better than the teacher, so other students may be able to understand it. I was able to see the learning going on in the short amount of time I was watching this clip. It has inspired me to stop and think about what I can do with my students. I realized although they are 5, I spend a lot of time every day during morning meetings. I plan on giving my students the opportunity to come up to the board, and help me, as I do the morning meetings.

  2. I am always looking for ways to keep my students motivated and engaged. I teach in a lower elementary classroom and I believe that I could utilize the strategy presented in the video clip “A Visit to a Motivated Classroom”. I love that the teacher keeps the kids engaged by having multiple students come up to the board and explain/present their answers on the board. In want to implement this strategy into my math lessons. I believe this strategy not only motivates students but it allows them to be in charge of their own learning in a student driven environment. I also like that it gives students the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of a skill by explaining it to others.

  3. I think it is great that the students are able to play the role of the teacher. I try to use this strategy in my classroom. Especially when students are struggling to understand a standard. I feel that some times, students are able to teach their classmates a different way or explain a problem differently than I may be able to. I feel that this does provide the students with additional motivation to truly master the subject area.

  4. I choose to watch this video so I could gleem some tid bits of information to bring back to my classroom. When the video started I wondered if they would be similar enough to my class, so that I could use some of the strategies presented. I like the fact the the teacher inspected what she expected. She checked their homework. I often get too busy in my schedule to rove around and check everyone’s homework. She did it as part of her routine. By checking, the teacher was able to check in with the students and answer any questions they might have had. I also see the need for more opportunies for students to teach each other. Writing things on the board is good, but could also be done on white boards in a group of students. Student’s were able to help each other, instead of just rely on the teacher. She also had a high school student helping her. An student like that would be helpful to have in elementary.

  5. The sense of ownership these students have for their learning is evident. The teacher was great at turning the students’ questions over to their classmates. These students were obviously highly engaged with the math lesson. Teaching students to understand their misunderstandings is powerful. I teach 4th graders. It is challenging to teach students to help their classmates without telling them the answers. Much discussion has to focus on the difference between helping and telling.

  6. I believe that student motivation is a necessity for student achievement. I think that this teacher made the students accountable for assignment, but also made them feel comfortable if they were uncertain on an answer. Sometimes, peer evaluation is more powerful than teachers’ leacture. As students converse, they find that more of their classmates also had trouble on particular problems, which enabled them to ask further questions.

  7. I really like watching classrooms function in this way. My favorite things about how this teacher runs her classroom are the independence students have and the ownership they take over their own learning. I like how the teacher gives credit for the HW- I think this keeps students doing and trying their homework problems with out being afraid to make mistakes. Then, when she puts the answers up (after checking to see they completed the problems) they are able to see and better understand their mistakes. I also like that the students are teaching. They seem as though they feel connected with their work and their classroom.

  8. It is good to see that the students are not afraid to speak up when they do not understand a problem. The environment was very helpful and allowed the teacher to see what she needed to teach without ever really teaching. The students are the center of the instruction.

  9. I really liked this clip. I teach elementary grades, but I feel that some of these methods could also be used in my class. I have been struggling this year with the lack of motivation in my classroom. Many of these techniques could be used with my students. I especially like the students coming up to the board to do the problems. I have many students who like to be in charge and I think this will help get them focused and ready to learn.

  10. I really appreciate the way that this teacher used her skills to place each student on a level playing field. I also like that she checked the work of her students. If we do not check their homework then they will eventually give up on getting it done. Overall a great use of her classroom and she has a great attitude for teaching.

  11. After watching this video, I really enjoyed how much the teacher was involved. Not only did the teacher give homework that is relevant to what is being taught in class, she also held her students accountable for doing the work. The teacher did not just collect the homework and move on, but rather made sure all of her students really understood the homework. She gave them an opportunity to ask questions. She created a caring environment in which her students feel comfortable enough to ask questions. I also like how she had the students working with students, rather than the teacher always doing the teaching. I believe that when student to student teaching is going on, there is more learning going on because students sometimes would rather hear it from their peers. It may be explained in a different way that is more understandable when it is a peer doing it. I feel that this teacher is highly effective in what she teaches based on this video.

  12. The topic, A Visit to a Motivated Classroom, really caught my attention since as a History teacher of grades 9-12 students, I very often struggle with student apathy to learning. I am therefore always looking for new ideas to enhance the learning experience of students and to get them motivated and involved. My pre-conceived notions of what to expect from the video included the used of an abundance of technology. This video used very simple strategies to get very big results. Students were engaged and motivated. The lesson was very student centered with teacher guiding the process as facilitator. Although it looks very simple, I know that the teacher put a lot of effort in structuring this lesson.
    The most important thing I noticed was that the students had taken responsibility for their own learning. The teacher had taught much more than just Mathematics. Students are therefore learning important habits of mind and life lessons which are needed to be successful later on in life. I noticed that all had attempted the homework assignment. Although this was not an issue in this excerpt, the teacher also noted that she would indicate strong displeasure if homework was not done by a student. I liked this. She held very high standards for her students and has communicated her expectations. Teacher affect was evident in the caring learning environment in the classroom. The interaction between students and teacher as well as among the students themselves was very respectful.
    There were many comments about the homework assignment. I have recently learned the phrase, what you inspect you get. Students did the homework because they knew that it would be checked. Also she did not just take up the assignment and correct it later. She was able to check and correct students’ misunderstandings by solving the problems in class with much student involvement. I particularly liked the peer tutoring which went on and the use of board work. I will definitely experiment more with this strategy. These simple strategies when combined brought such great enthusiasm from the students for the learning activity that I will be sure to pattern this during next week’s lesson planning.


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