Adventures in Literacy Land: motivating teens to read

Showing posts with label motivating teens to read. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motivating teens to read. Show all posts

Teachers as Reader Role Models

Friday was my last day of school for this year and I am already thinking about plans for next year.  This school year I started a new role in a new school as a math coach and in an effort to learn more about the math content, I have left many of my reading coach thoughts behind.  However, next year I want to do my part in creating a community of readers in my school.  One of my favorite ways to show students that I was a reader was to show them exactly what I was reading.  I didn't take pictures of how I did this :(  However, I did find pictures of what my fabulous high school teacher/academic coach friend did, and I can't wait to share with you her display.  Her display put mine to shame.

Let's take a look at each part of her display in detail.  At the time, Mrs. Stone taught ninth grade English for two periods to a group of students she had been teaching since the sixth grade.  Each year she looped up with her students.  They had formed a very special bond with her.  She spent the rest of her day being a master teacher (academic coach) to the other teachers in the high school.

She, like myself, was always reading more than one book at a time.  In order to keep up with what was current and be able to recommend books to her students, she read a lot of young adult fiction.  Not mention that we both LOVE reading young adult fiction books!  I love how she printed miniature versions of the book covers to use instead of just listing a title.  Book covers are works of art themselves and I love showcasing them.  They are first impression students have of the book.

Using book covers again, she listed the books that were in her TBR (to be read) pile.  Her students had lists in their notebooks of books they were interested in next and hers was just a visual representation of that list.  The students liked to see what she would be picking from next and the list also encouraged the students to check out the books themselves.

Once she finished reading a book, she moved the book cover from "is reading" to "has read."  She would then give book talks on the books and the line would begin of students wanting to check that book out.

At the beginning of each quarter, Mrs. Stone had a conference with each student and helped them set a personal reading goal.  The goals were set in terms of number of pages read, not number of books.  Students kept this tracking form in their notebooks.  Students were not competing against each other; they were working on meeting their own individual goal.  The student completed the title and page number section.  Mrs. Stone would then initial the completed column after they showed her in some fashion that they comprehend what they read.  I really liked the progress bar at the bottom.  Once a goal was set (hers was 3000 pages), the students divided the goal by four (750 for her) and set smaller goals on the way to completion of the major goal.  As students neared the completion of their goal, they colored in the progress bar so they would have a visual of how far they had come.

This post is dedicated to Mrs. Stone.  She is still working at my last school and I miss working with her on a daily basis.  She is a true inspiration.  She cares deeply for her students and inspires them to take their reading to new heights.

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Motivating Big Kids and Teens to Read

Hello, Literacy Land readers!  It's Lauren here today from Teacher Mom of 3 to continue a collaborative discussion about motivating readers and sustaining that momentum. Last month I shared my tips for Motivating Our Littlest Readers. You can read that post here.

Today, I want to share ideas and professional reading suggestions to keep the spark alive with older readers- those in grade three and above.  Some of you may not know that I have spent roughly half of my twenty-five years in education working with students in grades 6-12.  Although much has changed since I first stepped into my classroom back in 1989, one constant remains:  kids of all ages are wired to learn, are curious, and want and need to see purpose and authenticity in their learning.

As literacy teachers, we want to ignite the spark and fan the flame to create life-long readers. Miller and Gallagher state that "The highest priority is to create lifelong readers".  But what happens when the spark that was ignited in the early elementary years wanes?  Just the other day, one of my dearest friends who teaches eighth grade ELA, stated that her struggling readers see no purpose in reading.  They are burned out by the time they get to her classroom from reading to prepare for the "big test".  They see no joy in reading.  In the book Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, he states, "Students are taught that the reason they should become readers is to pass a test" (p.17).  Jeffrey Wilhelm, author of You Gotta BE the Book shares that we must help students to pursue reading in a personally, meaningful way.  In addition, Smith and Wilhelm found that boys, especially, want to understand the value of reading and need a reading purpose that relates to their lives.

But how do we as teachers accomplish this?  How can we create passionate readers and share with parents the importance of continuing to encourage their children to read at home?

Here are a few ideas that research supports and that I have found to work in my classroom.

Tips for Teachers:  Creating Passionate Readers

  • Before we can help unmotivated readers, we need to find out why they are reluctant to read.  Is it because they are struggling readers, reading below grade level?  Is it because they are are not interested in the texts we use in the classroom?  Are they burned out from too much test prep and lack an understanding of the importance of reading?  Do they see no joy in reading?  Is it because the way we are presenting, teaching, structuring our lessons does not appeal to their learning style?  Once we determine the why and diagnose the issue, then we can work to remediate.

  • How do we accomplish this?  I suggest using interest surveys, learning styles assessments, Multiple Intelligence surveys, and student conferences.  Laura Candler has some free resources for determining students' learning styles and interests.  Check out free printable forms here and here to get started.

  • Gallagher recommends that we use the 50/50 approach when planning our reading instruction.  That is, 50% of reading in the classroom should be recreational, independent, student-selected reading.  The other 50% should be academic reading. Gallagher shares that if we are only doing academic reading, we will not develop life-long readers ( p. 109).  He goes on to say that "Kids who do the most recreational reading become the best readers" (p. 42).

  • Make sure that every student has a book to take home and read for fun that they have selected and that they have an invested interest in. This is the single most important issue in our quest to develop readers (Gallagher, p. 46).

  • Implement teacher and student Book Talks, Graffiti Walls, flexible reading groups, literacy circles, and acknowledge all types of reading as important including magazines, digital texts, audio texts, manuals of how to fix things or to figure out how things work, or reading about how things work. Be passionate and enthusiastic in sharing your own reading experiences. Allow for student choice and time for reading in the classroom.

Of course, this is just a starting point.  For more information, check out the following professional books to help ignite passionate, life-long readers and thinkers {click on the pictures to view the books on Amazon}:

What ideas do you have to motivate older readers?  How do you instill confidence in struggling readers and help them to discover the joy and pleasure of reading?  Share your ideas in the comments section!