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19 August 2016 @ 08:00 am
Where does the motivation reside  
This is part of a post from a professional blog this morning: "So many students bypass HW reading assignments by using online resources. Our next day reading check quizzes are not reliable, yet they impact grades. Seeking suggestions that motivate students to do the assigned reading and ways to check their readiness for that day's lesson."

I want to applaud this educator for seeking suggestions for what is a real problem for her/him and, more than likely, for others. I wish I knew more.
1. What is the reading being assigned? Length? Purpose? Selected by?
2. Why is the "response" to the assigned reading first and foremost, daily quizzes? What is being asked? It is simply basic comprehension? Are student being asked for personal responses? For critical analyses?
3. Can assigned reading be motivating?
4. Why is this a matter of readiness for the lesson of the day?

So, I have a huge knowledge gap here, one that makes me hesitant to offer suggestions. Yet, I want to help. So, let me offer some generic suggestions and some resources here instead.

First, we need to begin with an understanding of what motivates students? We know that intrinsic motivation is key, that extrinsic motivation is insufficient. If you are not familiar with this aspect of motivation, please read PUNISHED BY REWARDS by Alfie Kohn. What might impact motivation? I would suggest CHOICE. If reading must be assigned, is there any way that students could be offered choice of reading materials? Could hey participate in the choice to some degree if not fully? CHOICE also extends to genre, form, format, length, and other qualities of the text.

I want to back up for a moment, though, and mention (as I did above) the idea of PURPOSE. What is the purpose of the daily homework of assigned reading? Is any reading being done in the class? Has modeling of what is expected been done? Are students clear on the why of the assignment? What about trying this as part of a flipped classroom situation? What do quizzes signal as the PURPOSE of the reading?

That leads to a consideration of RESPONSE. If every time I read, I had to complete a quiz, I wonder how long I would be motivated? When I read, I want to talk to someone else who has read the book. I want to have a discussion. I want to pass the book along to someone else, a friend usually.

I just glanced back at what I have written and this jumped out: CPR (choice purpose, response). Resuscitating reading, perhaps? You know how I love acronyms. But this is too easy. It is not a matter of acronyms, templates, lessons, etc. It is about having a vast knowledge about how students develop intellectually, socially, culturally, morally, physiologically, etc. First and foremost, we teach humans and not text.
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