My best lesson - How I discovered a major motivator: fame

3rd January 2014 at 00:00

In my experience, students are most likely to give their all when they can see that learning has a purpose and that they have a voice. This was certainly the case in my final term last year with my nine- and 10-year-olds.

We were focusing on persuasive writing and had been discussing techniques to convince a reader to see our point of view. A few weeks before, I had come across a fantastic website,, which publishes and celebrates student writing. We had submitted a piece of work by the class and watched international views and positive comments flood in.

As a teacher, I was excited by the opportunity to celebrate writing; as students, they were hooked by the idea of a worldwide audience for their work - and a chance for "fame".

During our introduction to creating persuasive texts, one child asked, "Will someone get on that website again, if it's really good writing, Miss?" A frank discussion followed in which I explained that, to contribute regularly to the site, and to have our own school or class space, the school would have to pay for a portfolio - and decisions about funding were made by our school director.

The children decided to lobby the director for a place on the site. What followed was a flurry of excitement and some of the most noisy yet authentic learning I have seen.

Did I follow my original persuasive writing plans? Absolutely not. Was I leading the learning? Not a chance. Did my students meet my intended objectives? Yes, and then some. They could see the opportunities offered by, wanted money to put together a portfolio and so used their literacy learning to lobby our school director to get it.

Some children wrote letters and rehearsed speeches, others designed posters and one group used iMovie software to create a persuasive video. Their focus, drive and determination was incredible. They learned about persuasive writing in a context that truly mattered to them - and, in the end, they got what they wanted.

Jennifer Murray teaches at Deira International School in Dubai and tweets at @MissJGM. The school's writing portfolio can be viewed at bit.lyDeiraInternational.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today