Student Motivation in high poverty urban areas remains a major challenge absent unusually high funding.
This fact is slowly being challenged by an open-source, volunteer-ran project that started in one of the highest poverty inner-city middle schools in Dallas ISD in 2005.
The project started with a donated 350-pound gun vault to serve as a symbol to students as to the value of letters they write to themselves planning their futures 10-years after leaving the 8th grade. The symbolism became reality. Ever higher numbers of students graduated high school over the decade. In 2010, following the recommendation from a teacher, the principal began writing parents asking them to write a letter to their child about their dreams for them 10-years into the future. The effect was very positive but limited to only about 30% of parents who wrote such priceless letters.
In 2015 this still very high-poverty middle school achieved the highest School Effectiveness Indices score in all of Dallas ISD! By 2015 over 15 other schools, mostly middle schools, all on the same southside of Dallas, had started School Time Capsule Projects. The competition was growing so in 2016 the Language Arts Coach at Quintanilla suggested that the letter-writing start with students writing a letter to parents asking for the letter back about parental dreams. She also expanded to project to every student in every grade writing letters.
The results were powerful! 80% of students received letters back from parents. Some teachers were in tears due to the power of those letters!
It worked so well that immediately at Browne Middle School, a potential 5th year failing school who had tried to exit a multi-year failing status for 4 years, the last two with the 8th graders writing letters for the Browne Middle School Time Capsule, but failing had continued. So the expanded all-grade Time-Capsule Project was expanded with every student writing parents asking them what their dreams were for them for the future. Only 8th-grade letters focused 10-years into the future. The other grades were just focused on the future. 2016 was an amazing end of the school year for Browne as they went from a potential 5th year failing to passing with the highest School Effectiveness Indices of any middle school in Dallas ISD.
This progress must be replicated! It merits the rigor of a EdD thesis dissertation! See the details of the project at www.StudentMotivation.org. This is an open-source project and these ideas are free to use. We only ask that we receive a copy of the resulting thesis.
I will gladly answer any questions anyone may have on this project.
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