You have undoubtedly noticed that only some of your students enthusiastically dig in to their schoolwork and seem motivated to get their work done. Learning standards are actually not written for specific grade levels!

They are aimed at the perceived learning abilities of the students in the middle of achievement expectations for typical learners of a certain age in a targeted grade. So, the truth is that the students who are not being productive are "located" at both ends of the learning continuum.

Those kids who are "not doing or handing in their work" are the target groups for this article.

By reading ahead, you will find several highly effective strategies to use to improve these students’ productivity without resorting to any "discipline" methods at all.

Just try this, please, to "see" what I mean. No sooner than the second week of your school year, take an 8.5-by-11 piece of paper, lay it down on a table with the wide side facing you and make a crease down the center of the paper.

On that crease, enter the names of the students who seem to be doing just fine. They are attentive and productive the two qualities most highly valued by teachers and parents.

Second, on the left side of the creased paper, write the names of students who are already having trouble keeping up with their classmates. These are obviously the students with learning difficulties.

Then, on the right side of the creased paper, write the names of the students who appear to be very bright and quick — perhaps even the class clown, but who may or may not be doing their work or turning it in.

The students listed on both ends of your paper are the "non-average students." These are the two groups of students from where your most serious challenges arise.

General guidelines follow for both groups with the promise that when they are use instead of techniques that are not working, dramatic improvement of productivity usually appears quite soon after they are first used.

In my opinion, students who appear to be struggling with the assigned grade standards are actually not less intelligent than students who are more successful. But they are definitely less lucky.

Their productivity problems arise when their teachers talk "at them" too much. Almost universally, these students are not auditory learners — they have many challenges understanding the spoken or written words.

Solution: As you plan your learning activities in general, include one or two that appeal to students who prefer to view and/or actually experience the targeted content, as their strongest learning modalities are visual, tactile, and/or kinesthetic.

They must move in order to concentrate. Don’t wait until they fail to be successful with the learning activities you may have used successfully in the past. These "technology natives” have never ever learned solely by listening to the targeted content.

Hint: Allow students who choose the same type of activity to work together in pairs, while following the Essential Rules of Working Independently.

  1. Don’t bother anyone, including the teacher if she/he is working with other students.
  2. Don’t call attention to yourself in any way.
  3. Work on your chosen activity for the designated time and.
  4. Keep records of your work in the manner expected by your teacher.

Finally, the most important thing you will have to do with advanced learners is give them full credit before you teach the content to anyone who can demonstrate they mastery by scoring 90 percent or higher or the equivalent thereof.

This opportunity should be available for any students who can demonstrate previous mastery, whether or not they have ever been identified as gifted. Instead of expecting them do the same work as their classmates, offer one or two "extension activities" for equivalent credit for the work assigned to the class.

To increase the effectiveness of this method, you will want to create a those activities during your regular planning time. Show these students how to follow the Essential Rules as well. So simple, and yet it works so well.

Now, all you have to do is trust this advice. If you wish, please send me feedback about how these worked for you and your students by going to and leaving a comment or question for me in the designated place.

While you are there, please watch a video that describes the students about whom I have written here. Good luck!