Students work together as a class to combine small-group visions into a larger vision of motivation for the class.


Students will be able to:

  1. Create a personal definition of motivation
  2. Define motivation in terms of self, others, and environment
  3. Create a class definition of motivation and class vision of motivated and motivating behavior


Pen/paper, large post-its or poster paper, markers, and space for groups to brainstorm, materials to create a class vision of motivation (mural paper, paint, etc)


Time Activity Notes
4-5 mins

As an opening to class, give each student silent and independent time to answer the question, “What is motivation? What does it mean to feel motivated and to be motivating?”

Little or no prompting is necessary before this activity so that students can bring their own ideas to the conversation without feeling like there is a “right” answer. Encourage students to respond authentically. You may want to play music during this time or ask students for a suggestion for a song about motivation that you can pull up online.
2 mins
Motivation Vision

Explain to the class that, rather than telling them what motivation looks like in your class, you would like them to create their own class-wide definition.

They are going to work together in small groups to create a “motivation vision” for the classroom establishing what being motivated and motivating means to them.

Each student already has their own definition, which they will use to work with a small group and create a list of things that they would like to see used in the whole-class vision of motivation.

Once the class has created small group definitions, they will take time to examine each group’s definition, take the best ideas from each group, and put them together in one final vision of motivation for the classroom.

This will be put up in the room and can be used to remind the class and others what motivation looks like in this class.

7-10 mins
Small Group Brainstorm

Give students time in a small group to discuss their individual definitions of motivation and brainstorm a list of things they can do to feel motivated and to motivate each other. Consider the following prompts:

  • What does motivating oneself look like?
  • What does motivating each other look like?
  • What about creating a motivating environment?
  • How can each of those be added to the class vision of motivation?

These brainstorms can be on large paper and posted on the wall in the room for logistics in the next lesson activity.

Things to consider in guiding student brainstorm (o the extent that the you feel it’s appropriate):

  • Provide t-charts for brainstorming, with “motivated/motivating” on one side and “not motivated/motivating” on the other
  • Ask students to provide examples of actions that demonstrate motivation
5-7 mins Once groups are done brainstorming, make sure each brainstorm is posted on the wall or somewhere all students can see it and write on it.

Then, have each student (as an individual now, no longer in small groups) walk around the room and read the ideas on the other groups’ papers.

Encourage students to make notes on the other groups’ papers when they agree strongly with another idea and would like to see it in the motivation vision (you may want to set expectations for no negative comments).

Students can also be encouraged to ask questions or add more information to other ideas in the room.

This activity should be done quietly and independently to give students time to read and process all of the other ideas.

You can establish a code for writing on other groups’ posters for ease: a star means “strongly agree”, a question mark means “I don’t understand”, etc.
10 mins
Group Consensus and Drafting

Lead the group in examining the notes written on the posters and identifying trends in the ideas and the most popular ideas.

When guiding the group to a consensus, aim to hear all student voices, avoid personal biases or their own definition of motivation, and honor the students’ vision of motivation.

Depending on the developmental and skill level of your students, you may want to step out of this phase of the lesson and allow the group to come to a consensus on the ideas in the motivation vision without you.
5 mins
Final Draft

The group should establish a means to create a final draft of the motivation vision, whether that is selecting a student to write it out, having you create the large poster, or some other means of writing it.

5 mins

See the questions under “Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment” below. Have students answer these questions in a format that works for your class, whether that is on paper, in smalls groups, as a whole-class discussion

2 mins

Post the final vision of motivation visibly in the room and remind students that it will remain up so that they can hold themselves, each other, and you accountable for the ideas that they have created.

Connections to Other Emotions

Creating a motivating environment may also foster the emotions of inspired/empowered or passion/purpose, as feeling energized and motivated can lead students to feeling inspired and to follow their passions.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. What will our class be like if everyone follows the vision of motivation?
  2. Do you think your original definition of motivation is captured in the class vision? Why or why not?
  3. What is one specific way (please give a concrete example) that you can help our class live up to its vision of motivation?