Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Student Motivation and Engagement

     In August, Kevin Feldman spoke to 7-12 teachers about how to keep students motivated and engaged with classroom texts and discussions. Research on these topics in professional journals has been prevalent the last few years.   I've taken two well circulated articles and summarized here for you.  
    The following is from Best Practices in Motivating Students to Read by John T. Guthrie, 2011 and Seven Rules of Engagement by Linda Gambrell, 2011. You will find the Gambrell article on our Companion Wikispace.

What is recommended to keep students motivated and engaged? 


The most widespread recommendation for motivation is providing choices.
These can be mini-choices, which empower students to increase their investment in learning. When appropriate, students could do one of the following in every lesson:

  1. Select a story (or text)
  2. Select a page to read.
  3. Select sentences to explain.
  4. Identify a goal for the day.
  5. Choose three of five questions to answer.
  6. Write questions for a partner exchange.


Collaboration is not a social break from learning, or an open discussion, but a scaffolded process of cumulative contributions based on reading about a topic.  Students can make claims about a text, add to each other’s interpretations, raise clarifying questions, and attempt to synthesize their own brainstorming.  
Collaboration can occur in every lesson as a broad plan or a brief event.

Each lesson could include one of the following:
  1. Have partners read aloud together.
  2. Partners exchange questions to answer over text.
  3. Team summarizes a chapter.
  4. Literature circles.
  5. Collaborative reasoning
  6. Organize a jigsaw.
  7. Set up peer editing about text.

Emphasizing Importance

Valuing literacy is the motivational process we attempt to facilitate with the practice of emphasizing importance.  Students need to see how the text helped them speak effectively with their peers or write effectively.
For each lesson, you can ask students to show the importance of reading:
1.      Identify the portion of text they used to answer a question.
2.      Identify a text that enabled them to explain a concept in informational text.
3.      Compare what they learned from a text versus what they learned from a video on a topic (simple Venn Diagram).
4.      Contrast the content they learned from reading, writing, or discussing a lesson.
5.      Explain how the content of text could help them in an out-of-school situation (Why do I need to know this?)

Real World Materials

 When it is possible to bring real-world media into classroom instruction, the text becomes relevant. For example: a newspaper article on civil rights to social studies class when studying this topic, pamphlets, creating a Buffet Table of Text for your content area.

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