If you want students to take an interest in what you’re teaching, begin each lesson by giving students a problem to solve. Grappling with a problem creates interest and curiosity, both of which are great motivators. Students can then share how they solved or attempted to solve the problem. After this discussion, use direct instruction followed by guided practice.
This approach follows the Japanese model of teaching. It’s in direct contrast to our usual approach to teaching, which is to give direct instruction followed by guided practice. The western approach does not consider motivation; it assumes students are motivated by a responsibility to learn what is taught. Of course, what is lacking here is the teacher’s responsibility to create an environment where students WANT to learn.
Asking students to problem solve in small groups is a great way to establish motivation.