Claire Carter Subject: English

'The Motivation Project'

AIM: to improve pupil motivation and achievement with a focus on a Y9 media project': higher order thinking and differentiation to be emphasised.O

OUTCOME: greater pupil independence and engagement in learning; improved depth and quality of writing


The main concern was that the pupils were underachieving because of lack of motivation and challenge. I aimed to:
· add challenge to the curriculum through the use of higher order thinking skills
· develop pupils’ use of academic language
· provide a greater variety of tasks for pupils

Ultimately I wanted pupils to push themselves forward and enable them to reach their full potential.

Teaching Plan

I planned a unit of work based on the GCSE Media Coursework essay for the AQA syllabus and delivered it to a top set - 10/h2:

a) Providing the students with the working knowledge of film studies to complete the essay

b) Introducing thinking skills and encouraging pupils to develop the following skills:
· judgement
· synthesis
· justify
· speculate
I used a range of activities such as: think/pair/share, categorising/ranking of idea and a variety of brainstorming techniques. For example the use of a ‘Power Ladder’ helped pupils to rank the techniques used in a short film into order of most/least powerful. Initially this was a ranking activity, pupils then had to justify their choices through whole class discussion and a written activity.

c) Developing pupils’ knowledge of academic language

d) Enabling pupils to improve their writing skills and complete a concise, logical, persuasive ‘A’ grade essay using exemplar paragraphs, exploration of mark scheme and peer marking

e) Providing pupils with a variety of stimuli to engage and encourage independent thought and written and verbal responses.


I was hoping that pupils would not need the traditional scaffold or essay plan and would present an independent response to a film trailer of their choice. Through the focus on writing skills I hoped pupils’ writing would improve from the D/C borderline to the B/A borderline.

In reality pupils have increased their knowledge about film and developed their reasoning skills particularly in discussion. Pupils now have more confidence to share ideas and respond independently to a variety of texts. Pupils have a better understanding of exactly what is required to achieve different grades. They are now willing and able to edit, criticise and improve their own writing and the writing of others. Pupils have produced essays of a much higher quality than those previously handed in.


The benefit of this project was that I had the opportunity to reflect on a crucial area of my teaching and develop my understanding of the mark scheme. The close analysis of the mark scheme and using a variety of film genres to engage all pupils in the project went well.

It could have been even better if I could have found a way or a specific task to improve pupils’ work ethic to motivate themselves to produce a higher quality of work.

Outcomes - Pupil Learning

· Pupils have become increasingly confident independent thinkers.
· Pupils developed a better understanding of what they need to do to get a higher grade.
· Pupils were able to assimilate academic language into their independent writing.
· Pupils were engaged in the classroom and enjoyed the unit of work.
· Pupils have become more motivated and now want to improve their writing.

Outcomes - Adult Learning

· I can now confidently incorporate keywords from the mark scheme into my dialogue with pupils.
· I can plan and deliver tasks focused on higher order thinking skills.
· I have gained insight into certain pupils and watched them develop personally into reflective learners.
· I have a greater understanding of the learning process.

Next Steps:

I will continue to incorporate higher order thinking skills into my teaching. I have disseminated the project to other members of my department and I am hoping that they will incorporate the activities linked with thinking skills and film analysis into future media
coursework units. The development of activities to specifically address higher order thinking skills could be adapted for use across the curriculum.

In Conclusion – a personal response to the whole project -

I have found the whole project has benefited many different aspects of my teaching. In particular, I have gained from the in class support provided by Stefani Shedden because it has allowed me to re-think how I teach, incorporating a range of activities which stretch pupils and enable them to activate their higher order thinking skills. Although I had been aware of higher order thinking skills I rarely used them. Now when task-setting and during class discussion I focus on using the thinking skills language with ever-growing confidence and conviction.

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