Motivation: The Overlooked Sixth Component of Reading

AUGUST 1, 2014

Trina is an eighth grader trapped in her own prison. She has every excuse in the book and is often referred to as just unmotivated. But I don’t buy that story. Not at all.

To a five-year-old, learning is exciting. While some are academic naturals, others lag. Well-meaning educators intervene, and praise, rewards, and external incentives surface. Thus, we can see the sixth component of reading — motivation. But what of the adolescents who deflect their inability to keep up by throwing a pencil when you aren’t looking, or by bullying others? Enter the “unmotivated” adolescent.

Learners are motivated by three factors: desire to learn, incentives, or fear of failure. As we grow, most of the early curiosity is tested away, and school becomes work. Obstacles increase, desire to learn decreases, and incentives and/or fear of failure move to the forefront. Jack Canfield, self-esteem expert, reports that 80 percent of first graders posses high self-esteem, but by high school graduation, this drops to a staggering five percent.

But certainly you aren’t reading this blog for that bleak truth. So now what?

University of Minnesota instructor Martha Farrell Erickson, PhD, (2003) identifies the “critical ingredients for healthy child and youth development” as the Three C’s. In my opinion, they are critical for educating any child, and most importantly, for reversing the earlier damage done to self-esteem, which can cause blocks in motivation.

Connection

Brain research reveals that if students feel happy and comfortable, they are more apt to retain learning. Connecting with our kiddos helps us to build trust and to educate the entire child. Dr. Ross Greene, psychology professor at Harvard University, wrote in 2007 that all children would perform if each possessed the necessary skills to complete the task. If we can pinpoint and support students with skill deficits, they will succeed. It is our job to know them, and to empower them to know themselves.  Here’s how:

  • Reader Self-Perception Scale: Determine which students need more encouragement and how to approach each one individually.
  • Learning Styles Assessments: Learning your students’ preferences and making them aware will empower them to learn and produce.
  • Multiple Intelligences Assessments: Show your students theirstrengths and then allow them to reflect, gain power, and proceed carefully.
  • Skill Deficit Assessments: The problem usually lies in the fact that we never seem to dig deep enough. Answers are most often not the most obvious. Assess formally and informally to be thorough.
  • Inventories: Getting to know your students’ interests allows you to pair them with good-fit reading material. You could quite possibly find a book that not only matches what a student is capable of managing, but is also on a topic that he or she enjoys!
  • Types of Learner Questionnaire: A U.S. Army study by Dr. Valerie Rice divides learners into four different types, depending on their approach (or non-approach) to learning new material.

Contribution

In the book Bridging Cultures Between Home and School, Elise Trumbull et al. discuss collectivist cultures. Adolescents of families from all over the world grow up with a sense of collectivity, and parents emphasize cooperation and community. Our job is to support each student individually while honoring those who also need to feel like they are contributing.

This is just as much an engagement philosophy as it is one of esteem building. The more you use a variety of discussion strategies, the more engaged your students become.

Competence

Erickson’s third C is the heart of intrinsic motivation. Many of these kiddos have faced so much failure that success seems unattainable. To rebuild, give your students a feeling of mastery, even on little things. Clear routines allow transitioning from activity to activity with confidence until strugglers feel classroom-savvy.

Providing specific and constructive feedback is another way to build competence. Rick Wormeli, educational author and speaker, says that to give our kiddos a true feeling of success, we must observe, honor, and reflect on their work, and help them to set goals to improve on it. For example: “Trina, I noticed that when we read the first few chapters of your novel, you asked questions on your sticky notes. This shows me that you are really wondering about your reading. Have you found answers to any of these questions? As you read the next chapter, let’s make a goal.” Suggest a few ideas if she’s stuck, and let her choose an attainable goal, promising to reconnect in a few days to monitor her success.

And succeed she will. If even one of Trina’s teachers meets her with the attitude of, “I’m going to get to know you, kid. I’m going to give you a chance to be a part of this community and to feel successful,” she will respond. The biggest challenge is changing our mindset so that she can change hers. There are no kids who are “just not motivated.” They do not exist. Each one of them has a story. It’s our job to read it, learn it, and help them to use it as power, not as a prison.

What success stories about building intrinsic motivation in resistant learners can you share?

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/motivation-overlooked-component-of-reading-heather-lambert

What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices We Should Abandon

JUNE 3, 2016

The number one concern that I hear from educators is lack of time, particularly lack of instructional time with students. It’s not surprising that we feel a press for time. Our expectations for students have increased dramatically, but our actual class time with students has not. Although we can’t entirely solve the time problem, we can mitigate it by carefully analyzing our use of class time, looking for what Beth Brinkerhoff and Alysia Roehrig (2014) call “time wasters.”

Consider the example of calendar time. In many U.S. early elementary classrooms, this practice eats up 15-20 minutes daily, often in a coveted early-morning slot when students are fresh and attentive. Some calendar time activities may be worthwhile. For example, teachers might use this time for important teaching around grouping and place value. But other activities are questionable at best. For example, is the following routine still effective if it’s already February and your students still don’t know:

Yesterday was _______.
Today is _______.
Tomorrow will be _______,

Does dressing a teddy bear for the weather each day make optimal use of instructional time? Some teachers respond, “But we love our teddy bear, and it only takes a few minutes!” But three minutes a day for 180 days adds up to nine hours. Children would also love engineering design projects, deep discussions of texts they’ve read, or math games.

5 Less-Than-Optimal Practices

To help us analyze and maximize use of instructional time, here are five common literacy practices in U.S. schools that research suggests are not optimal use of instructional time:

1. “Look Up the List” Vocabulary Instruction

Students are given a list of words to look up in the dictionary. They write the definition and perhaps a sentence that uses the word. What’s the problem?

We have long known that this practice doesn’t build vocabulary as well as techniques that actively engage students in discussing and relating new words to known words, for example through semantic mapping (Bos & Anders, 1990). As Charlene Cobb and Camille Blachowicz (2014) document, research has revealed so many effective techniques for teaching vocabulary that a big challenge now is deciding among them.

2. Giving Students Prizes for Reading

From March is Reading Month to year-long reading incentive programs, it’s common practice in the U.S. to give students prizes (such as stickers, bracelets, and fast food coupons) for reading. What’s the problem?

Unless these prizes are directly related to reading (e.g., books), this practice actually makes students less likely to choose reading as an activity in the future (Marinak & Gambrell, 2008). It actually undermines reading motivation. Opportunities to interact with peers around books, teacher “book blessings,” special places to read, and many other strategies are much more likely to foster long-term reading motivation (Marinak & Gambrell, 2016).

3. Weekly Spelling Tests

Generally, all students in a class receive a single list of words on Monday and are expected to study the words for a test on Friday. Distribution of the words, in-class study time, and the test itself use class time. What’s the problem?

You’ve all seen it — students who got the words right on Friday misspell those same words in their writing the following Monday! Research suggests that the whole-class weekly spelling test is much less effective than an approach in which different students have different sets of words depending on their stage of spelling development, and emphasis is placed on analyzing and using the words rather than taking a test on them (see Palmer & Invernizzi, 2015 for a review).

4. Unsupported Independent Reading

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), and similar approaches provide a block of time in which the teacher and students read books of their choice independently. Sounds like a great idea, right?

Studies have found that this doesn’t actually foster reading achievement. To make independent reading worthy of class time, it must include instruction and coaching from the teacher on text selection and reading strategies, feedback to students on their reading, and text discussion or other post-reading response activities (for example, Kamil, 2008; Reutzel, Fawson, & Smith, 2008; see Miller & Moss, 2013 for extensive guidance on supporting independent reading).

5. Taking Away Recess as Punishment

What is this doing on a list of literacy practices unworthy of instructional time? Well, taking away recess as a punishment likely reduces students’ ability to benefit from literacy instruction. How?

There is a considerable body of research linking physical activity to academic learning. For example, one action research study found that recess breaks before or after academic lessons led to students being more on task (Fagerstrom & Mahoney, 2006). Students with ADHD experience reduced symptoms when they engage in physical exercise (Pontifex et al., 2012) — ironic given that students with ADHD are probably among the most likely to have their recess taken away. There are alternatives to taking away recess that are much more effective and don’t run the risk of reducing students’ attention to important literacy instruction (Cassetta & Sawyer, 2013).

Measure of Success

Whether or not you engage in these specific activities, they provide a sense that there are opportunities to make better use of instructional time in U.S. schools. I encourage you to scrutinize your use of instructional time minute by minute. If a practice is used because we’ve always done it that way or because parents expect it, it’s especially worthy of a hard look. At the same time, if a practice consistently gets results in an efficient and engaging way, protect it at all costs. Together we can rid U.S. classrooms of what does notwork.

Notes

  • Bos, C.S. & Anders, P.L. (1990). “Effects of interactive vocabulary instruction on the vocabulary learning and reading comprehension of junior-high learning-disabled students.” Learning Disability Quarterly, 13, pp.31-42.
  • Brinkerhoff, E.H. & Roehrig, A.D. (2014). No more sharpening pencils during work time and other time wasters. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Cassetta, G. & Sawyer, B. (2013). No more taking away recess and other problematic discipline practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Cobb, C. & Blachowicz, C. (2014). No more “look up the list” vocabulary instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Fagerstrom, T. & Mahoney, K. (2006). “Give me a break! Can strategic recess scheduling increase on-task behaviour for first graders?” Ontario Action Researcher, 9(2).
  • Kamil, M.L. (2008). “How to get recreational reading to increase reading achievement.” In 57th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference, pp.31-40. Oak Creek, WI: National Reading Conference.
  • Marinak, B.A. & Gambrell, L. (2016). No more reading for junk: Best practices for motivating readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Miller, D. & Moss, B. (2013). No more independent reading without support. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Palmer, J.L. & Invernizzi, M. (2015). No more spelling and phonics worksheets. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Pontifex, M.B., Saliba, B.J., Raine, L.B., Picchietti, D.L., & Hillman, C.H. (2012). “Exercise improves behavioral, neurocognitive, and scholastic performance in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” The Journal of Pediatrics, 162(3), pp.543-551.
  • Reutzel, D.R., Fawson, P., & Smith, J. (2008). “Reconsidering silent sustained reading: An exploratory study of scaffolded silent reading.”Journal of Educational Research, 102, pp.37–50.

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/literacy-practices-we-should-abandon-nell-k-duke

How I Know My Students Are Reading at Home

 

I remember the reading logs well, my brothers hastily whipping them out Sunday night asking my mom to sign off that they had read x number of minutes.  My mother never checked, she did not want to be the reading police, after all, she knew my brothers read.  She didn’t care how many minutes or which book, all that mattered was that at some point their eyes met something to read. A great post by Angela Watson got me thinking, how do I know my students are reading if I don’t check their reading log?  How do I know that at some point their eyes meet a text?  There are many ways actually.

  • I watch their reaction.  Kids who read want independent reading time.  Kids who are in a great part of a book want time to find out what will happen next.  Kids who slowly get their reading bin, who distract others on the way; those are the kids I need to check in with and help.
  • I keep an eye on their book bin.  A whole book shelf in my room is the proof that my students read.  Periodically I go look through their bins, noting which books a kid has and whether those book have changed.  If they haven’t, I check in with that child.
  • We recommend.  Another favorite in our room is the speed book dating.  We quickly rattle off a book we love and why it should be read while the listener has their “I can’t wait to read ” list in their hand.
  • We show off our reading.  I have my reading door outside of the room so that my students always know what I am reading and my students can recommend books on a bulletin board.  Our reading is visible.
  • We discuss.  Reading should not be a solitary endeavor so we make time to discuss our books and why they are the best or the worst book ever.
  • We reflect.  I often ask students to tie in today’s teaching point with whatever they are reading right now.  Whether it is in our thoughtful logs or on a post-it, students take a moment to think and apply and once again lets me see what they are reading.
  • We do monthly reading reflections.  This year I really wanted to have a open dialogue with the students in regard to their reading life and although I do constant one on one or small group instruction, I wanted something more formal that I could file away and look at when needed.  My students know they are not judged on what they write but rather that I use it as a way to start a conversation with them.  I always appreciate their honesty and my actions show that.
  • We have great books.  If you want kids to read, have great books.  I do not know how much money I spend a year on books, I know it is a lot, but every time I am able to booktalk a book and see the reaction in my kids, it is worth it.  Couple that with an incredbile librarian and my students are pretty lucky in the book department.
  • I lose a lot of books.  Because I encourage my students to take our books home to read, I inevitably lose a lot of books.  While it is hard to think of it from a financial standpoint, I also know that hose books are being read by someone.  So yes, it is hard to constantly replace books (and expensive) but it is something that goes along with being a reading classroom.

So yes, while my district mandates a reading log, it is not the treasure trove of information that I need.  What I need is conversation, observation, reflection, and interaction.  So how do I know my students read?  I ask them and listen.

I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

 

Source: https://pernillesripp.com/2014/05/25/2228/

11 Alternatives to “Round Robin” (and “Popcorn”) Reading

DECEMBER 1, 2014

Round Robin Reading (RRR) has been a classroom staple for over 200 years and an activity that over half of K-8 teachers report using in one of its many forms, such as Popcorn Reading. RRR’s popularity endures, despite overwhelming criticism that the practice is ineffective for its stated purpose: enhancing fluency, word decoding, and comprehension. Cecile Somme echoes that perspective in Popcorn Reading: The Need to Encourage Reflective Practice: “Popcorn reading is one of the sure-fire ways to get kids who are already hesitant about reading to really hate reading.”

Facts About Round Robin Reading

In RRR, students read orally from a common text, one child after another, while the rest of the class follows along in their copies of the text. Several spinoffs of the technique offer negligible advantages over RRR, if any. They simply differ in how the reading transition occurs:

  • Popcorn Reading: A student reads orally for a time, and then calls out “popcorn” before selecting another student in class to read.
  • Combat Reading: A kid nominates a classmate to read in the attempt to catch a peer off task, explains Gwynne Ash and Melanie Kuhn in their chapter of Fluency Instruction: Research-Based Best Practices.
  • Popsicle Stick Reading: Student names are written on Popsicle sticks and placed in a can. The learner whose name is drawn reads next.
  • Touch Go Reading: As described by Professor Cecile Somme, the instructor taps a child when it’s his or her turn to read.

Of the thirty-odd studies and articles I’ve consumed on the subject, only one graduate research paper claimed a benefit to RRR or its variations, stating tepidly that perhaps RRR isn’t as awful as everyone says. Katherine Hilden and Jennifer Jones’ criticism is unmitigated: “We know of no research evidence that supports the claim that RRR actually contributes to students becoming better readers, either in terms of their fluency or comprehension.” (PDF)

Why all the harshitude? Because Round Robin Reading . . .

  • Stigmatizes poor readers. Imagine the terror that English-language learners and struggling readers face when made to read in front of an entire class.
  • Weakens comprehension. Listening to a peer orally read too slowly, too fast, or too haltingly weakens learners’ comprehension — a problem exacerbated by turn-taking interruptions.
  • Sabotages fluency and pronunciation. Struggling readers model poor fluency skills and pronunciation. When instructors correct errors, fluency is further compromised.

To be clear, oral reading does improve fluency, comprehension and word recognition (though silent/independent reading should occur far more frequently as students advance into the later grades). Fortunately, other oral reading activities offer significant advantages over RRR and its cousins. As you’ll see in the list below, many of them share similar features.

11 Better Approaches

1. Choral Reading

The teacher and class read a passage aloud together, minimizing struggling readers’ public exposure. In a 2011 study of over a hundred sixth graders (PDF, 232KB), David Paige found that 16 minutes of whole-class choral reading per week enhanced decoding and fluency. In another version, every time the instructor omits a word during her oral reading, students say the word all together.

2. Partner Reading

Two-person student teams alternate reading aloud, switching each time there is a new paragraph. Or they can read each section at the same time.

3. PALS

The Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) exercises pair strong and weak readers who take turns reading, re-reading, and retelling.

4. Silent Reading

For added scaffolding, frontload silent individual reading with vocabulary instruction, a plot overview, an anticipation guide, or KWL+ activity.

5. Teacher Read Aloud

This activity, says Julie Adams of Adams Educational Consulting, is “perhaps one of the most effective methods for improving student fluency and comprehension, as the teacher is the expert in reading the text and models how a skilled reader reads using appropriate pacing and prosody (inflection).” Playing an audiobook achieves similar results.

6. Echo Reading

Students “echo” back what the teacher reads, mimicking her pacing and inflections.

7. Shared Reading/Modeling

By reading aloud while students follow along in their own books, theinstructor models fluency, pausing occasionally to demonstrate comprehension strategies. (PDF, 551KB)

8. The Crazy Professor Reading Game

Chris Biffle’s Crazy Professor Reading Game video (start watching at 1:49) is more entertaining than home movies of Blue Ivy. To bring the text to life, students . . .

  • Read orally with hysterical enthusiasm
  • Reread with dramatic hand gestures
  • Partner up with a super-stoked question asker and answerer
  • Play “crazy professor” and “eager student” in a hyped-up overview of the text.

9. Buddy Reading

Kids practice orally reading a text in preparation for reading to an assigned buddy in an earlier grade.

10. Timed Repeat Readings

This activity can aid fluency, according to literacy professors Katherine Hilden and Jennifer Jones (PDF, 271KB). After an instructor reads (with expression) a short text selection appropriate to students’ reading level (90-95 percent accuracy), learners read the passage silently, then again loudly, quickly, and dynamically. Another kid graphs the times and errors so that children can track their growth.

11. FORI

With Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction (FORI), primary students read the same section of a text many times over the course of a week (PDF, 54KB). Here are the steps:

  1. The teacher reads aloud while students follow along in their books.
  2. Students echo read.
  3. Students choral read.
  4. Students partner read.
  5. The text is taken home if more practice is required, and extension activities can be integrated during the week.

I hope that the activities described above — in addition to other well-regarded strategies, like reciprocal teaching, reader’s theater, and radio reading — can serve as simple replacements to Round Robin Reading in your classroom.

Tell us your favorite fluency or comprehension activity.

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/alternatives-to-round-robin-reading-todd-finley