Imagine Big
Leadership lessons on teamwork and creativity

Grades 6—12
About This Lesson Plan


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Lesson 3: What Motivates You?

Students will identify how they are motivated and apply that knowledge to an understanding of their current and future experiences with academic work.

Students will:

  • Explore the ideas and theories behind motivation
  • Create a personal motivation profile
  • Connect their motivation profile to current and future work experiences

Common Core Standards

  • Write informative and explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • Prepare for and participate in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own ideas clearly and persuasively.


What Motivates You? graphic organizer
Post-its T-Chart labeled "intrinsic" and "extrinsic"


Intrinsic Motivation: when people do something for the joy of doing it, or because they think it is right (a hobby).
Extrinsic Motivation: when people do something for an external reward or tangible result (doing work to get paid).

Have students write down three things that motivate them on three separate Post-it notes. Explain the difference between intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivating factors. Then, ask students to place their Post-its on a T-chart that is labeled "intrinsic" and "extrinsic."

Discuss as a class:

  • What are people most motivated by, intrinsic or extrinsic factors?
  • Looking at the ways that people are motivated, what are the challenges when it comes to motivating a group?
  • If you were a teacher or a boss at work, what would you do to motivate this group of people?

Whole Group
Students will research and explore Richard Lavoie's six Ps of motivation (based on The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child).

Students complete the first part of the What Motivates You? graphic organizer with definitions of each type of motivation.

  • Praise: Students who are motivated by recognition or belonging will be motivated by sincere words of praise.
  • Power: Students who want control over their environment or choices are motivated by power to control their environment.
  • Projects: Some students are motivated to work on projects that bring together various topics or disciplines.
  • People: Students who are people-oriented are especially drawn to activities that allow them to work with people and build relationships.
  • Prizes: Students who are drawn to status, recognition, and power will find prizes motivating.
  • Prestige: The need to feel important and needed is motivating for students who are status- or prestige-driven.

Small Group
Students work independently or in small groups to complete the remaining sections of the What Motivates You? graphic organizer using the following guiding questions: 

  • Which two aspects motivate you the most?
  • How do you know these motivate you? What examples or evidence have you seen of this motivation factor in your life?
  • How does this affect your work in school?
  • How does this affect your interests outside of school?
  • How might this affect your future career?

Ask students to write what motivates them on Post-it notes and compare the responses with the ones they posted previously. Discuss:

  • What motivates the students in your class?
  • How has this changed since the start of this lesson?
  • How do theories develop and change? How does that influence our understanding of the world and of ourselves?

With the remaining class time and for homework, have students write a one- to two-page letter to you or another teacher titled: How to Motivate Me.

Use these activities to extend the conversation about motivation:

  • Have each student choose one or two jobs that they're interested in. Research each job and answer the questions.
    o What are the tasks involved in each job? 
    o Which motivation factor would motivate you to do the tasks in this job? 
    o Is this job a good fit for your motivational style?
    o How do you know?
  • Have students research, analyze, and compare three motivation theories (B. F. Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, Abraham Maslow, among others). Which theory do they think is most accurate?
  • Assign a three-page opinion and reflection paper on one of the following
    o How are Lavoie's ideas different from the way that adults typically try to motivate kids? What should adults do differently? 
    o Imagine that you're a teacher. What would you do to motivate all the students in your classroom? 
    o How do Lavoie's ideas apply to school? Is there such a thing as a lazy student?

Use these resources to learn more about Richard Lavoie's research:

Field Extension         
Continue the discussion about motivation with these Disney Youth Education Series experiences:

  • Managing Your Personal Brand at Walt Disney World® Resort helps students become self-aware, self-disciplined and self-motivated to increase their potential for becoming future leaders. Your group will come to understand how to project a positive image, build its skill set through the collection of experience and apply those skills to leading others.
  • Disney's Approach to Leadership and Teamwork at Disneyland® Resort teaches students the four C's of Walt Disney leadership. Students will practice overcoming obstacles by working as a team and thinking creatively to develop solutions. Exercises designed to reinforce courage, curiosity and constancy aim to give students the confidence to set goals and accomplish their dreams.
Read detailed field study descriptions and enroll your students at
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