The four readings presented to us this week all had the common theme of motivation; specifically, how to motivate young adult readers. So, how is this goal accomplished? Well there are a numerous amount of methods, but one constant method is readers’ choice. Giving the students the ability to choose their books is a sure fire starting method of inspiring life long readers. This article from “Three Teachers Talk” breaks down the advantages of allowing students to choose the books they would like to read, especially in advanced placement English courses. By allowing students to choose, it encourages better reading and writing workshops, in some instances, if not most. In a middle and high school level students desire the need for independence, and by allowing them to choose what they want to read it places the power in their hands. They feel a part of the process, and if anybody feels they are an integral part of a system, they are going to participate more.
Teachers should encourage and motivate students right out of the gate to read, and there are many ways to do this. The best method is through praise. Any student wants positive feedback on things they have done well. As soon as a student reads a book, teachers should not immediately push and drive them forward to the next book. Instead, reflect and engage with the student on what they learned from the book, how it made them feel, and how it gave their life meaning. This process of engaging with a student once they have read a book is called “book talk.” It consists of many different levels of teacher-student engagement and is outlined by Phyllis Hunter in her professional paper. Hunter says it is all about intrinsic motivation and I completely agree. Intrinsic motivation is simply a hunger to learn with the reward being self realization, enlightenment, and the development of professional reading and writing skills.
Students need to be motivated to read, but without the heavy burden of reading goals. Some students will be able to handle heavy reading lists with anticipation, but other students will see it as another arduous task. This goes back to knowing your students’ methods of learning. If it is necessary to take it one book at a time, then do that. If the one step at a time method is used then the teacher needs to be able to recommend an array of texts that fit the personality and interests of the student. Hence, teachers need to be readers and have a diverse inner catalogue. For example, I am terrible when it comes to following reading lists because I get lost in the enormity of it all. Therefore, I pick and book and just go without knowing what the next book will be. This also keeps my reading life loose and free, and can be tied directly to the motivation that comes with student choice. More important than setting reading lists and goals, is to track the progress that is being made. By tracking progress, teachers can encourage and give positive feedback on the results in front of them.
Know your students, know what their interests are, and allow them to develop the intrinsic motivation to read. This development comes through sound recommendation, great reading and writing workshops, and most importantly, positive feedback and encouragement for all students. Have fun with the entire process, because if reading is only one thing, it is fun.