Motivating Reluctant Readers and Writers

28 March 2016
          A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting at the North Carolina Reading Association Annual Conference in Raleigh, NC. I was pleased to see that my session filled up quickly, and it was also relieving to see that I am not the only educator who has challenging students!

     I've had many questions from my friends and coworkers about some of the things that I presented at the conference. So I figured that I'd share! 

    To start with, we have to ask ourselves 'what makes motivation?' It is made up of three parts: interest, attitude, and engagement. Engagement is the missing link for many students. Which brings us to our next question: 'How do we get kids engaged in reading and writing?'

1. Relevant: The books and materials we supply our students with must be relevant to their culture and up-to-date with pop culture. Walk the toy isle of a department store and see what students are being exposed to to gather an idea of what is relevant to their lives. 

2. Accessible: We have to make sure that the books and writing materials are within reach and easily accessible. We can do this in early childhood by keeping materials low to the ground and within reach. We can do this in higher education by just having the materials OUT and available for students to use for their leisure. 

3. Opportunity: Set aside the time to allow students to practice their new skills. Students have opportunity to build on these skills through trial and error. 

4. Choices: We don't all think the same way, so why would we all learn the same way. Offer a variety of activities and give your students choices to practice their skills. This creates an exciting environment where students can creatively take ownership in their work. Not sure how to do reading choices? Do not fret! I have created Daily 5 Tic-Tac-Toe Boards where students can choose their activities. 

5. Social: Give students ample time to read to one another or talk about and share their writing with one another. I have a workout acquaintance who is an author, and she is constantly sharing ideas about her characters and asking what a person like her character would do or how the character would respond. It gets everyone excited about reading her juicy novels. Kids can do this too! My writing block is never dead silent. We are always productively communicating with one another. 

6. Success: Everyone wants to feel successful! Even if you have a student who is reading or writing at a lower level, you must make them feel successful in order for them to make growth. I like to use the sandwich approach. This psychological approach is easy to use and gets the point across easily for kids and even their parents. I start off on a positive note (think bread). Then I add the constructive criticism (think meat), and I conclude with a positive follow up (bread). For example: 'Grace, I love that you are beginning to use the pictures to guess the word, but I feel like you could take a closer look at the beginning and ending sounds of the word to increase your accuracy. If you can do all of those things, I know you are really going to be able to decode those words like a great reader.' 

7. Incentives: These must reflect the value of the lesson. It is okay to use extrinsic rewards with students who have special needs at first, but eventually we want to ween them off. Intrinsic rewards can be anything from sharing work, tracking progress, etc. we use periscope in my classroom as an incentive for students to share their learning with the world. To put it simply, IT ROCKS! Follow our class @barnettsbubbles to see our next Persicope.

I'll be sure to share more strategies on how to motivate reluctant readers and writers within the upcoming week. Let me know if you have any other incentives that you use in classroom that are helpful! I'd love to hear. Post in the below! 

Thanks for sharing,



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