58% of Michigan students
say that

Students should be the ones to motivate other students. The Student Inspiration Project empowers them to do so.

Overview

The Michigan Student Inspiration Project

Students Talk

Lack of motivation and enthusiasm for school is directly related to poor school performance and low graduation rates. 75% of Michigan students tell us that they are not fully motivated to learn.
They tell us:

  • They are not convinced that the content being taught in school is meaningful.
  • Current ways of delivering content do not motivate them to engage in the classroom.
  • Academic achievement and classroom participation put their standing with their peers at risk.

In order to improve our schools, inspire our students to learn and achieve more, we have to understand what motivates them.

The Michigan Student Inspiration Project

Education initiatives—no matter how well planned or executed—risk falling short of their goals without student buy-in and commitment to learning.

The Michigan Student Inspiration Project:

  • Helps students to discover that they are not alone in their desire to learn.
  • Shows students the positive aspects of learning and achievement.
  • Gives students a say in what and how they learn.


Today’s youth are the most empowered generation ever, having control over the choices they make as young consumers, how they spend their time, and how much effort to put into school – we need to give them a forum to express themselves and make their thoughts on school and learning known.

Make A Difference

The Student Inspiration Project is the only one of its kind in Michigan.

It was designed on behalf of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to leverage private funds to inspire and motivate children in grades four through eight to commit to and more fully engage with their own education.

As a grassroots initiative, the Student Inspiration Project relies on the support of Foundations, Businesses, and individuals to support its programs and projects.

Donations to the Michigan Student Inspiration Project can be made via the Library of Michigan Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, public charity governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Foundation provides opportunities for charitable giving to benefit, among other things, special programs and projects otherwise not provided through state or federal funding.

MAKE A CONTRIBUTION




Students Talk

According to the kids:

STUDENTS TOLD US IT'S OK TO GIVE THEMSELVES A “PASS."

A majority believe it is ok to say they are not good in a subject because “some kids just don’t get” that subject; and this acceptance of failure is more pronounced among students from lower-income households. For example, 70% of Michigan students in homes with annual incomes of less than $25,000 agree that it’s ok to say “I’m not good in math because some kids just don’t get math,” compared to 52% of students from households with annual incomes of over $100,000. This pattern holds across subjects including science, social studies and even reading.

STUDENTS TOLD US THEY ARE NOT CONVINCED THAT THE CONTENT BEING TAUGHT IN SCHOOL IS MEANINGFUL.

93% say having an understanding of why they are asked to learn certain things is “very important to student success,” yet only 45% say this describes their school “very well.” And 64% of Michigan students surveyed believe that schools focus too much on memorization and not enough on thinking.

STUDENTS TOLD US THAT THE WAY CONTENT IS DELIVERED IN THE CLASSROOM FALLS SHORT.

A majority say that greater use of technology would make school more fun and interesting (82%) and that it would help students learn (80%) by allowing them to work at their own speed (58%) and/or learn outside of the classroom through videos or online lessons (59%).

STUDENTS TOLD US THAT ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND CLASSROOM ENGAGEMENT CAN PUT SOCIAL STANDING AT RISK.

50% say that trying to do well is a reason some kids get made fun of at their school and 34% worry what their friends might think of them if they were to participate in class often. And kids don’t think their friends share their values when it comes to the importance of school. 47% say they strongly agree that it is very important to do well academically, but only 29% think their friends feel the same way.

"At my school, there's criticism from other students to those who do well and try."


"They need to listen to the students more. Most of the teachers don’t care what we have to say."




Hear what Michigan students have to say


THE FIRST INITIATIVE OF
THE STUDENT INSPIRATION PROJECT IS
Almost Worst Ideas


”ALMOST WORST IDEAS” IS THE FIRST STUDENT INSPIRATION PROJECT INITIATIVE AND SENDS THE MESSAGE THAT THERE IS LITTLE WORSE THAN NOT GIVING FULL COMMITMENT TO SCHOOL

The “Almost Worst Ideas” integrated messaging campaign will speak to early adolescents across the state--in both urban and rural areas and socio-economically disadvantaged communities--wherever they engage with one another: on the web, in school and at home.

STUDENT “ALMOST WORST IDEAS” SUBMISSIONS WILL PROMOTE INTERACTIVITY AND BUZZ ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

The “Almost Worst Ideas” website will feature “Almost Worst Ideas” – like taking a selfie with a skunk or trying to run in flippers – that are selected from student submissions, as well as ideas and experiences from well known celebrities.

Kids will vote on “Almost Worst Ideas” submissions. Winning submissions will be rewarded and posted.

IN SCHOOL, KIDS WILL BE REWARDED FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS AND EFFORT

Schools and teachers across the state can opt-in to join the program and, along with posters, will be provided reward stickers that contain codes for exclusive website content or power ups for the integrated game app.

The game app will feature “Almost Worst Ideas” scenarios that end with the message “There’s nothing worse than blowing off school” and can be played on personal devices as well as home laptops and computers.

PARENTS AND COMMUNITIES WILL PLAY A ROLE IN “ALMOST WORST IDEAS”

At home support will include t-shirts, communication from school, bumper stickers and magnets.

The entire local education community at participating schools will also be included in the “Almost Worst Ideas” campaign through ongoing communication with teachers, schools, districts and parents that includes conferences, webinars and social media sites geared to parents and teachers.

HOW DO WE KNOW KIDS WILL GET THE “ALMOST WORST IDEAS” CAMPAIGN?

The “Almost Worst Ideas” campaign was developed with the help of nearly 90 Michigan students who gave advice and program feedback in the spring and summer of 2014. The campaign was then tested via online survey among 220 Michigan 4th-8th graders in the fall of 2014.

Students who were surveyed gave individual campaign components high marks:
  • Almost 60% said they would vote on the funniest videos and play the game app, try to earn a reward sticker, and vote on the best ideas.
  • More than half of students said they would tell their friends about the game app, check out the website, and tell their teachers about the reward stickers and codes.

It has a great message with humor.

7th Grade Girl, Redford


Kids should pay attention to this because they can share ideas no one else may think of.

6th Grade Boy, Caledonia




I'd like to come up with a funny worst idea!

Parent of a 5th Grade Boy, Battle Creek


I think this is a great idea for kids my son age and older most kids think it's cool to skip school.

Parent of a 4th Grade Boy, Flint

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

THE STUDENT INSPIRATION PROJECT’S
“ALMOST WORST IDEAS” TIMELINE

Year One

“Almost Worst Ideas” campaign launch in targeted media areas in Michigan. Any school can opt-in to be included.

Year Two
  • Expand to all elementary/middle schools in Michigan.
  • Continue all year 1 activities with fresh and engaging content.
Year Three

Sponsor “student voice forums” to promote the voices of students in school improvement and achievement initiatives.


The campaign will be measured using multiple metrics so educators, parents, policy makers and contributors can see the success and impact of their participation.

  • # of visitors to website
  • # of app downloads
  • App usage
  • Video views on YouTube
  • Use of codes on website
  • On-line participation in chats, idea submission
  • Campaign awareness
  • Track already established state-survey questions on student attitudes towards school

CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUCCESS OF THE MICHIGAN STUDENT INSPIRATION PROJECT AND THE “ALMOST WORST IDEAS” CAMPAIGN.



Contact Kristen Harmeling:
kristen.harmeling@YouGov.com

21 West Main Street, floor 5
Waterbury, CT 06702

To contribute on-line and make a tax-deductible contribution to the Library of Michigan Foundation, click the button below:

MAKE A CONTRIBUTION

Custom presentations and webinars for your colleagues can be arranged by contacting Kristen at KRISTEN.HARMELING@YOUGOV.COM. Monetary and in-kind donations are gladly accepted, sponsorship opportunities are available.

* The Library of Michigan Foundation is a*501 ©(3) nonprofit, public charity governed by an independent Board of Directors and housed within the Michigan Department of Education. The Foundation provides opportunities for charitable giving to benefit, among other things, special programs and projects otherwise not provided through state or federal funding.


Michigan Student Inspiration Project at the Michigan State Board of Education Meeting
Fast Forward video 35 min.
to view presentation

Michigan Student Inspiration Project in the Detroit Free Press
State launches 'Almost Worst' effort to inspire kids
MDE Launches Student Inspiration Project Promotes Enthusiasm for Learning among Michigan Students

About

Research on why students are disengaged from school and what can be done about it was conducted with close to 3,000 Michigan students and parents, 1,000 Michigan teachers, 325 principals and 50 superintendents.

The findings from this research resulted in the development of the Michigan Student Inspiration Project and programs for improving the educational experience and achievement of Michigan students in grades 4 through 8. Click here to download the project’s foundation document.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation, Michigan State University (MSU) Department of K-12 Outreach, YouGov, a global research and consulting firm, and Leo Burnett, the advertising company, as well as other key stakeholders, make up the project team for the Michigan Student Inspiration Project.

With the initial research phase now complete, the Michigan Student Inspiration Project is ready to launch its first program, “Almost Worst Ideas”.

Designed by Leo Burnett, from their Troy, Michigan offices, “Almost Worst Ideas” is a messaging campaign that puts kids in the spotlight as creators and participants.

Using the staples of adolescent vocabulary, humor and exaggeration, ”Almost Worst Ideas” features kids reinforcing the message that there is nothing worse than not giving your full commitment to school.

THE MICHIGAN STUDENT
INSPIRATION
PROJECT TEAM


  • LINDA FORWARD
    Director of the Office of
    Education Improvement and Innovation,
    Michigan Department of Education
  • Kristen Harmeling
    Partner, YouGov
  • CAROLYN SPARKS
    Executive Director,
    Michigan Library Foundation
  • SALLY VAUGHN
    Former Deputy Superintendent,
    Chief Academic Officer,
    Michigan Department of Education
  • SKIP DRAYTON
    EVP, Integrated Marketing Group Director at Leo Burnett
  • DR. BARBARA MARKLE
    Asstistant Dean,
    Office of K-12 Outreach,
    Michigan State University
  • ANN-MARIE MAPES
    Office of Education Improvement and Innovation,
    Michigan Department of Education


THE MICHIGAN STUDENT INSPIRATION PROJECT STAKEHOLDER GROUP



The stakeholder group will meet at least quarterly to provide advice and feedback to the project team. The group will be comprised of:
  • MI TEACHER OF THE YEAR
  • MICHIGAN PTA
  • MICHIGAN BUSINESS LEADERS
  • MICHIGAN STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE