The Unconventional Fairy Princess and Tech Motivation

My primary job is as a Special Education Paraprofessional. One of my students is "into" fairies and fairy princesses like Augustus Gloop was "into" candy.

One of my, and I assume many of your, first missions when working with a student is to find the "hook". In some cases it's a break, a walk or an activity that is offered after a task is completed. With this particular student on a particular day when a math assessment had to be done, that hook was simply the Fat Alligator Fairy Princess.

When I offered that as the reward for completion of the task the first question was, "What's that?" To which I responded, "A fairy princess that happens to be a very fat alligator." Now I am known for my cartoonish drawings around my building and that, coupled with the fact that I often wear black Sharpies of various tip widths around my neck on my badge lanyard so that it looks like a boar's tooth necklace from Papua New Guinea, made the setting of the hook easier. The student was "intrigued" and completed her assessment in record time, all while focusing and doing quite well as far as percentage correct.

The point of the story is that the drawing, much like gamification badges, iPads, Chromebooks and what have you, was just a tool. A tool like a sticker or star that got the student motivated to do a task beyond expectations. The story also illustrates that "one motivator doesn't necessarily fit all".

The point of technology in education is to transition from TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION and towards education that has technology woven in to it at a genetic level. That technology is the pencil, the stapler and the trapper-keeper not the spotlighted star on which all attention is focused.