Tag Archives: Motivation

Article: Motivating Readers through Voice and Choice

“Keeping students motivated to read and write throughout the school year can be a challenge for any classroom teacher.”

This is the opening line of an interesting (and short article) by Wendy Ranck-Buhr from NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English (in the U.S.), that I just read titled “Motivating Readers Through Voice and Choice.”

https://habitsofeffectivewritingteachers.wikispaces.com/file/view/Student2Student_Column.pdf 


After this relatable opening, the author then goes on to wonder:

“Sometimes it is not the reading or writing itself that drains motivation from middle school students but the ways we ask students to demonstrate what they know.”

The rest of this short article goes on to provide suggestions for how to engage students in writing and reading throughout the school year. Although technically aimed at middle school teachers and students, I imagine the strategies are applicable to high school English classes and students as well. 

For example:

  1. Blogs: teachers can use blogs to communicate with both students and parents, and students can use blogs to showcase work.
  2. Literary café: the teacher can host a book chat or book sharing session once in a while in their classroom along with beverages on tables covered in cloths. 
  3. Showcase: providing an audience beyond the classroom can be a great motivator for students and their writing. Teachers can showcase writing on the Internet, for example, or or in literary publications.

The author concludes by wondering:

“What would it take to make every student in your class a self-motivated reader and writer?”

Motivation: It must come from within

In her newest book “Tuned Out: Engaging the 21st Century Learner”, Karen Hume writes, “The long-term motivation needed to develop competencies in any area of life must be intrinsic — it must come from within the individual.”  This echoes the quotation I have on the front page of this blog and has been the elephant (or 800 lb gorilla) in the room for me with my teaching: I want students to be engaged in my classroom from within.

That is to say, for a variety of reasons, it is my goal to create a culture inside my classroom where students don’t hate and even enjoy coming to English class.

How am I trying to achieve that? Well, that is the question, isn’t it. I am trying to use the following:

  • Treating the students with dignity.
  • Presenting information with enthusiasm.
  • Using humour in a positive and even self-deprecatory way.
  • Employing teaching methods / strategies / structures that have been tested and vetted by educational experts (such as Robert Marzano or Spencer Kagan), and always striving to integrate these strategies and structures as much as possible, as Barrie Bennett suggests.
  • Weaving choice into the classroom wherever and whenever possible.
  • Deliberately employing team-building / community-building activities
  • Using assessment as and for learning everyday and oftentimes multiple times in a day.
  • Responding to the feedback I receive from students to either offer effective corrective teaching or to offer multiple entry points to learning via their interests, learning profiles, or their readiness.
  • Using ICT in the classroom whenever it is appropriate, including Web 2.0.

These are some of the ways I am trying to engage students in my classroom so that they actually might come to class with a mindset of wanting to learn. Plus, to be selfish, there is a job satisfaction element here as well: battling students each day is not the way I want to spend the next 15+ years of my career.

Gallery

VIDEO — Economist: The surprising truth about what motivates us

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Wow Quotation: “Get past the carrots and the sticks and start looking at the science.” Wow. That kinda gave me shivers when I heard it…