Motivation…what a powerful word when discussing students and reading. Getting students interested in reading more (or in some cases, at all) is the top concern for most teachers. One thing that I have become aware of in the past couple of years is that quite a few students have came out to say that they no longer like reading, even when they loved it in elementary. One of the main reasons that is often stated by them is the fact that they felt “forced” to read because of the AR (Accelerated Reading) program. Therefore, I really enjoyed reading the article “Curing the Reading GERM” by Jim Bailey. I must admit, when I was an elementary teacher, I was completely on the AR band-wagon. And when the high school students would tell me they hated reading now because of it, it was extremely hard to wrap my mind around. One of the reasons is because they always seemed so “driven” to get those points in order to earn the “prizes” at the end of each quarter. I can now understand that their motivation was only about the prize (extrinsic) instead about learning to love reading for reading itself (intrinsic ~ thanks to the article, “Raising Students Who Want to Read” by Phyllis S. Hunter). I thoroughly enjoyed reading how Mr. Bailey turned his whole teaching philosophy around when he started using the information he gained from Donalyn Miller and Nancie Atwell.
The main thing that these articles had me thinking about is how much I want to be that teacher who is able to instill the kind of love for reading that these articles talk about. As I was reading, I started to think of areas in my own teaching where I could incorporate more independent choice into what the students are learning. For example, when I teach my Science Fiction Unit, I think I’ll have the students pick a free choice Sci-Fi novel to read instead of the ones I usually assign. They will still be able to learn about all of the elements, but they will have more say in what they use as the learning material. The next thought that I had when reading all of these articles is how much I really would like to use more of a reading/writing workshop in my classrooms. When I was fresh out of college, these things were not around. I think I’ve come a long way from the “basal” reading of yesteryear, but I know there is still a lot that I need to learn. The thing I have going for myself is that I REALLY do want to continue to grow/learn, and these types of articles and classes are just what I need/want!
I also enjoyed reading about how it is also important for AP students to have the choice of what to read; why should they be treated any differently than other regular education students? Also, I found a couple of ideas from the article “6 Simple Ideas to Get Kids to Read” by Pernille Ripp. I already think I have been doing a fairly decent job of doing book talks, but I think I’m going to take her advice and try the 1 minute book talk for each of my classes. And since the school year is winding down, I will begin next year with this also in hopes that I can eventually turn that over to the students. A couple of other take-away ideas I’m going to incorporate next year is the “book doors” idea and the “locker tags” idea from Mr. Baily’s article. Hopefully, if I keep plugging along…sooner or later I will end up being that teacher.