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Sivukartta

3.3 How do you raise motivation?

We see collaboration as the most powerful strategy in our case, as it activates many aspects of cognition and behavior, it gives opportunity to use various materials, tools and types of environment. It also unites situational and internal interest to a great extent. Moreover, it offers equal opportunities of participation for every pupil.

The majority of researchers and teaching personnel emphasize the importance of visual material (Husbands et al, 2003), which usually is a meaningful part of collaborative working. Collaborative tasks must involve not only pupils in small groups and not only pupils and the teacher, but also parents and tutors. Here are a few examples of most successful collaboration strategies:

Collective construction of illustrated timelines of historical events and their participants helps pupils understand chronology, provide sense of historic era, and build proper background for further knowledge. Timelines are also good visual aid for identifying cause and effect.

Mystery Solving Strategy tasks are important for development of analytical skills and self-efficacy perceptions as they activate the natural wish to “figure it out” and at the same time are easily integrated into goal-setting and goal-achieving patterns. In the context of a history lesson, this strategy can be launched by a few provoking questions.

Crafting Individualized Field Trips. This refers to collecting visual and factual information during excursions or simple trips around the city, district or any local historic sites, not necessarily during school hours. Children are asked to record what they find interesting on their worksheets; a variety of tools, both electronic ones as described in the next section and common ones, can be used here. Making individualized field trips can become an excellent start for creating personal learning environment for the future.

Simple drawing of family trees and maps can enrich knowledge, raise motivation and interest greatly, alongside with building the sense of belonging. But one important aspect must be taken into consideration here - not all pupils come from full families and they might know very little about their ancestors. In this case additional help from adults’ side is needed but mainly for planting of the idea to imagine the missing parts. 

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Project-based learning can be one of the best strategies to raise both motivation and result level, as it is possible to combine many patterns mentioned above.

It is especially needed when goals are:

●      to form a perception of peculiarities in cultural development;

●      to heighten pupils’ information competence in: analysis and processing of information; defining of main ideas of a text; making text plans;

●      to advance pupils’ social competence and creativity;

●      to develop respect for cultural heritage of people, and of the other pupils' work.

To exemplify the theory, we decided to present the Oulu castle as basis for a history project.

Teacher starts the history lesson with the following words: “Hello, children! How are you today? I know you have a lot of new subjects this year, so you have to do a lot of difficult tasks. Today I have something interesting for you. I strongly believe you have never done such an engaging thing before”.

Children are getting interested in the task. The teacher proceeds: “Today we are going to speak about castles! What do you know about them?”. Pupils answer: “Castles are very beautiful. Knights and princesses live there”.  The teacher says: ”Do you know how many mysteries are hidden in each of them?” A girl exclaims: “My dream is to visit a real castle”. The teacher: “I will help make your wish come true”.

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“Many of you have been here, I suppose, but did you know that this place was a castle once? What can you see there now? - A cafe. - Yes, but  do you know what has happened to this castle and what it was like before?” 

The teacher shows the children different materials he/she has gathered in advance: several maps, old sketches, abstracts of the castle history printed on separate sheets of paper... 

After that, heorshe divides children into small heterogeneous groups (4-5 persons) and gives clear instructions for the oncoming activity. The children then get acquainted with most important events relating to the castle. The teacher then proposes that the children draw their own vision of the place and how it could look like in the previous centuries. One of the tasks is to find the castle’s place on the map using hints hidden in the text after making it coherent.

Then comes the time for excursions to the castle and city museums, during which the children take photos and make notes on their worksheets. They are also given instructions to search for more information in the library and in the Internet.

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The next lesson generalizes all information found, while the teacher makes necessary improvements and additions. To visualize the result, most information about important facts, participants and events is added to the timeline.

To finalize the whole project a presentation of collaborative and solo efforts takes place. Parents and tutors are invited to the classroom to encourage them for further exploration of history.

Project-based learning is a relatively new tool in the context of primary school history, but we strongly believe that it can bring good results if implemented correctly.

Discuss & brainstorm