One of the challenges of promoting literacy is motivating kids to read. What are they interested in reading? What purpose is there to reading in the first place? In our content literacy class we participated in a jigsaw learning activity, where pods of us were organized into “expert groups,” and were responsible for reading and presenting about an article related to reading motivation. Each group’s article focused on different strategies and issues with motivating literacies, and there were several common themes and ideas.
The group who presented Texts That Matter shared that finding memorable texts from a variety of text types was important for inspiring reading. They spoke about how conventional texts can gloss over the “cool stuff,” or the interesting facts and ideas that make a text more engaging. Finding memorable texts makes promoting literacy much easier in the long run, since trying to motivate a student to read a boring text may take up more time than giving a student some choice in what they read. Obviously this takes a little bit of planning, but when a teacher can find a variety of texts with similar information for content requirements (such as learning about feudalism or a world war for school curriculum requirements) students can become engaged with the unit sooner than if they’d been turned off in the first place.
In Revisiting the Read Aloud we looked at student engagement and involvement through, as you might have guessed from the title, reading aloud. The group discussed the importance of pitch, pacing and tone and what their impacts are on enjoyable reading. Reading aloud helps language development, especially with students who may be learning outside of their mother tongue. Some strategies suggested were using Alpha Boxes, which according to the article “Alphaboxes can take the form of a pre-reading or a post-reading activity to help stimulate students to think about and discuss key ideas in the text. For example, while notating examples under the appropriate alphabet letter in each box, students can generate questions; highlight important concepts; make connections; provide explanations; locate, identify, and discuss unfamiliar words; and present different points of view.” I’ve never seen these before, but here is an example of what an Alpha Box could like like. Some examples can be found on this link. We also discussed the importance of modeling text-to-self connections, text-to-text connections, and text-to-world connections. This also requires a bit of pre-reading so that questions can be modeled for students to explore connections, which promotes higher level learning.
In Reading Motivation: a Focus on English Learners we discussed the importance of establishing literacy in order to facilitate student connections to their peers. This requires a variety of many different text types. When English learners are motivated readers they will see how English contributes to other literacy skills. Literature circles, book clubs and reading buddies are great at promoting the social aspect of reading, and this can contribute to building confident interpersonal skills as well.
In Making Textbook Reading Meaningful we discussed strategies for motivating kids to read informational texts. While we had discussed in class the downside of textbooks, they are something that most classrooms will no doubt still use. Developing dedication requires that a variety of texts must be used to best engage student readers to go deeper. “Instead of offering a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep, they provide in-depth units of study in which students have a chance to read extensively and deeply about topics.” (Guthrie, Klauda) Students can find textbooks intimidating, so finding supplemental texts to assist in understanding content and concepts is important.
In the article about motivating boys to read (sorry, the title is crazy long) we talked about the challenges of getting adolescent boys to read. They said that between 70 to 80 percent lack reading motivation. I could relate a lot to what the group shared and agreed with the strategies that were mentioned, which included: using non-fiction texts, using shorter texts, using book series, using a variety of texts, and using male role models for both reading and writing. One of the interesting suggestions was to let boys explore writing about violence.
In What teachers can learn about reading motivation through conversations with children we looked at what and who motivated kids to read. Through conversations with different classes of kids, researchers found that kids are strongly influenced by the parents’ influence with literacy, particularly through the mother. It also found that librarian and teacher suggestions also played heavily into student choices. But it seemed that the biggest influence on what kids read is by looking at what their peers are reading. Word of mouth among friends seemed to be the biggest influence on kids’ reading. Children also like spending time in their school libraries. Kids are more prone to read if they’ve been able to choose their own texts. They are also motivated by the knowledge they gain from the texts, and if that aligns with their own personal interests then the connection to literacy is going to be stronger.
As a whole the Jigsaw activity was informative, though it seemed rushed by the time we got to the end of class. Overall we tended to agree with each other lots of different points, but we didn’t have as much time for discussion as I had hoped. Good exercise and exploration of these reading, however.