Why do we have to read this? It’s a common complaint in classrooms. Even though we know in our pedagogical hearts that students need to read more than ever to meet 21st-century goals and standards, the kids have a point.
It’s well-documented that reading comprehension is a dynamic interaction between the text, the task, and the reader. When we don’t consider how the three components work together, especially in the specific context of our classroom, it often results in low motivation for the task.
Boost motivation for reading in your classroom by making it meaningful and purposeful.
Design authentic tasks in which reading provides important information. For example, students who are preparing to take a position on an issue of interest will read more closely for evidence than if the same text was simply assigned for homework as “background reading.”
Build autonomy and choice into your lessons; students are far more motivated to read about something they choose than something assigned. For example, develop text sets that offer a range of reading levels and perspectives about a particular subject.
The importance of critical reading is especially salient given the rise of fake news. Inspire students with the Newseum’s Media Literacy Maven, who live-streams (and posts) videos that focus students on tips and tricks for navigating the murky waters of fake and misleading news.
When it comes to writing, take an inquiry approach by letting students identify the criteria for what makes a successful product. This happens when you engage students with mentor texts that demonstrate the kind of writing you’re aiming for. Whether it’s a persuasive essay, a poem, or a college application letter, you’ll find students are motivated by real-world examples that show them what good writing looks like. This blog by Rebecca Alber goes into more depth on the process.