Upon reading this week's chapter about student motivation from Morrow and Gambrell, I was excited to see that I already employ many of the best practices listed within the confines of my reading and writing workshops! I feel like I do the best job in terms of making reading relevant to my students. I make it a priority to find out what topics interest my students and help them to find books that will appeal to them but leaving the choice in text up to them, making the motivation to read more intrinsic and, according to the text, more valuable in the long term. Like suggested in the text, I learn about the likes and dislikes of my students through conversation and questions, taking place primarily during the guided reading portion of our workshop times. I take these interests into account not only when making suggestions for independent reading, but also as I select texts for read alouds.
As a science and social studies teacher, I also provide my students with real world materials. These range from newspapers and brochures to website, magazines, and eBooks. These have been helpful in building schema and allowing students to make real world connections to the ideas and concepts that we learn about in class. When real-world materials are not available, I often provide demonstrations or models to help the students better understand the concepts at hand, similar to the example in the text of the teacher who was teaching about the holocaust. This is especially true in my science lessons. I typically begin each lesson with a demonstration of a scientific idea or principal to get the students interested and to build their prior knowledge of the topic. As mentioned in the reading, this is great for eliciting student questions, but it is also great for addressing prior misconceptions prior to starting the lesson. Along these same lines, I stress the importance of reading and writing in terms of the real world. I am always mentioned how scientists, historians, or mathematicians use certain strategies or skills.
I've also made confidence building a major part of my reading instruction which I feel ties well with Marrow and Gambrell's assertion that success is vital in building a student's language skills. I do this in my own class by working with students at their own reading levels, regardless of whether the material is "grade level appropriate" or not. I make sure to praise even the smallest gains to help build confidence and to show my students that their hard work is indeed paying off. I give my students frequent feedback during guided reading and writing, in their reading response journals, blogs, and writing notebooks, and through informal discussions. Students also receive feedback from one another during buddy reading as well as in responses to their blog posts.
One area in which I feel I could improve is in student goal setting. I have tried several methods of goal setting, but I always have a hard time getting the students to internalize the goals and also struggle to follow through on the goals set by the students. I typically do better when I am the one setting the goals, but I know that student-created goals are more meaningful and effective in terms of motivation. I think what makes this hard for me is determining when a goal has truly been met. I'm a logical/mathematical thinker, so the more abstract ideas involved in language development seem especially difficult to measure.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!