How Youth Learn
How Youth Learn


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The Motivation Equation is brilliant on so many levels! With mind-boggling clarity it synthesizes into eight essential conditions the science related to motivation. And it’s the best (ever) use of the e-book medium that I have seen—a treasure trove of value-added resources.” —Kim Carter, Chief Education Officer, QED Foundation

“The student and teacher voices in this strikingly original book bring the principles of learning alive in practice. This kind of teaching empowers kids to reach eagerly toward mastery. Every educator will want to read this book.” —Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

“The sparkling dialogue of students, teachers, and scientists resound through this book, reminding us how much school climate matters in the learning of youth. Actual voices and faces as well as other resources and information make this a wonderful and important book. I highly recommend it!” — Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., President, National School Climate Center

“This exciting book rings with humility, humor and humanity. I love the depth, the complexity, the sophisticated ideas—in spite of which you let us understand how simple it all is. I love the entry points (reading, viewing, listening) and the variety of student scenarios, which seem to address so many of the students I know.” —Andrea Lowenkopf, teacher professional developer

“Shows how academic research on motivation connects with the everyday clinical practice of teachers—which is exactly what teacher education programs should do.” —Sarah Starr, teacher educator, University of Southern California, Rossier

“What a fantastic resource! The student voices are priceless and really separate the work—a great gift to the field.” —Peter Brunn, Director of Professional Development, Developmental Studies Center; author, The Lesson Planning Handbook: Essential Strategies That Inspire Student Thinking and Learning

About "The Motivation Equation"

How—and why—high motivation and mastery develop in the classroom

For more than a decade, WKCD and its nonprofit publishing arm, Next Generation Press, have brought to the widest audience possible the ideas, voices, and vision of our nation’s adolescents.

Five years ago, we launched the Practice Project, a nationwide collaboration among youth and adults to investigate the question “What does it take to get really good at something?”

The resulting book Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery, by WKCD senior writer Kathleen Cushman and the Kids of What Kids Can Do (Jossey-Bass, 2010), broke fresh ground and won wide acclaim among educators.

The Motivation Equation: Designing Lessons that Set Kids' Minds on Fire takes that work another big step. Using a lively multimedia platform, Cushman brings the actual work of teachers, the feedback of students, and the commentary of learning scientists to describe how—and why—high motivation and academic mastery develop in the classroom.

Guided by an “actual adolescent brain” named Ned Cephalus, readers listen in as six case studies of highly effective curriculum and instruction unfold in diverse middle- and high-school settings. At a touch readers can access:

  • Audio and video clips of students, teachers, and scientists
  • Pop-up summaries of key research
  • Live links to related information
  • Downloadable worksheets for diagnosis and planning
  • Chapter-end discussion prompts for teacher book study
  • A lesson-study collegial protocol focused on motivation

Reading the book on screen

You have two ways to access the multimedia version of The Motivation Equation:

1. Download our Next Generation Press App from Apple’s App Store, then click on the book’s cover to read it on the iPad or iPhone.

2. Or, on any web browser go to

Note: Scroll down to read through a section or chapter, then use the arrow at top right to advance to the next chapter.

As you read, you’ll have easy access to images, audio, video, research, and other documentation that provides a broader and deeper understanding of a topic. Without interfering with your normal reading, these extras add dimension, interest, and usefulness to the main text.

With the Next Generation Press App, you can turn off the multimedia features (“inline extras”) by tapping the small icon in the upper-left corner of the book’s page. Just tap again to turn multimedia back on for more in-depth exploration. A small gray triangle appears in the left side of the text column to indicate lines where multimedia features appear.

The Motivation Equation will also be available as an individual iBook in the iTunes bookstore, but it may not have all the audio and video features enabled.

Reading the book in print

A paperback print edition of The Motivation Equation is in press, to include some multimedia features accessible with a smartphone’s QR reader. For details, contact