John Keller's ARCS model of motivation from the 1980s stresses the process of arranging resources and procedures to bring about changes in motivation. The principles apply regardless of the situation.


Students need stimulation and variety to reduce boredom and increase curiosity. Humor, novelty, and a sense of the unexpected contribute to attention. Students want interesting questions and problems that provide a change of pace and format.

Young people crave novelty. It requires the brain to shift into pattern-recognition mode and find ways to fit new information when existing knowledge. According to Judy Willis in How Your Child Learns Best, novelty attracts student attention. Special events, field trips, guest speakers, and fresh activities all activate the brain.

Want to celebrate Math? Try Pi Day, Mole Day, Odd Day, and Square Root Day! Invent your own day like Ones Upon a Day.


Students want to satisfy their personal interests and motives. Students want to see value in their work. They want to see a connection between prior knowledge and real-world experiences. They want to see how information connects to their life.

Join an online collaborative project where you can share your data with others. For instance, help your students become citizen scientists through projects like the Lost Ladybug Project.

Connect to national projects where students can add to a larger project.


Students want to feel competent and in control. They seek clear criteria for expected performance, attainable challenges, and control.

Participate in national projects like Iditarod. Then, create specific criteria for projects such as Glogster such as rubrics.


Students want to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. They want to be placed in situation where they can see the natural consequences of decisions in real or simulated environments. They want feedback, consistency, and standards for performance.

Special Events

Students enjoy being part of something larger than themselves. Build connections to these larger topics and real-world connections into the curriculum. There's a "special" day for every topic you can image. Focus on special days and events. Use technology as the bridge to active learning. If you can't find a day, invent one!

Looking for more, check out the National Health Information Center calendar.

Check out Author Birthdays.

life vestTry It!
Pick a day and integrate into your classroom.
Find a day… look for birthdays of famous people.
Invent a special day.

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