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Motivation is the desire and energy that guides behavior. When we are motivated, we engage more in what we are doing and learn more. Motivation has an essential influence on reading and writing development and students' identification as readers and writers.
Motivation to read and write tends to decrease through adolescence. The amount of time students spend reading for pleasure decreases as they get older from 40% of 8- to 10-year-olds reading daily to 26% of 15- to 18-year-olds.
One important distinction is between intrinsic Motivation, the inherent desire to learn and accomplish goals, and extrinsic Motivation, which is the desire to accomplish goals because of external rewards/recognition or to avoid a negative consequence. Intrinsic and extrinsic Motivation are not mutually exclusive; it is very common for students to be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, they may not be intrinsically interested in a specific assignment but they are motivated to do well for a related long-term goal. Further, students who struggle with literacy skills may be less motivated to participate in academic reading but may avidly read other kinds of reading materials. Moving students towards being more intrinsically motivated is important for long term engagement in reading and writing.
Some important concepts that impact Motivation include:
Students' self-efficacy can vary for many reasons, including the content area they are learning. Students may have high self-efficacy for writing in history class but low self-efficacy for writing in their science class. Girls often have better writing skills and higher self-efficacy compared to boys. Students' self-efficacy may develop from experiences where they master a task (e.g., successfully reading a complex book), the Emotions elicited by reading and writing (e.g., feelings of frustration and anxiety vs. joy), and feedback and messages of encouragement or discouragement they receive from others about their reading and writing skills.
Culture can also play an important role in academic Motivation and influence the value students place on reading and writing. Growing up in a culture that values close relationships with family increases academic Motivation. On the other hand, bicultural stress, the stress that results from living in an environment where there is a mismatch between mainstream culture and your own culture, can decrease academic Motivation in adolescents. However, some students who face adversity and low expectations in school settings can transform these experiences into a source of Motivation.
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
Students practice making and finding meaning in texts through book discussions moderated by teachers to varying degrees.
Building positive and trusting relationships with learners allows them to feel safe; a sense of belonging; and that their academic, cognitive, and social and emotional needs are supported.
Checklists and rubrics help students understand expectations as they navigate more complex tasks and assignments.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.
For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.
When students express information visually, they are activating more cognitive processes while problem solving and increasing their experience with alternate texts.
When preparing for and debating with peers, students analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking and literacy skills.
Interpreting and composing discipline-specific texts requires tailoring literacy strategies, like annotating or asking questions, to the disciplinary goals and practices.
Overtly encouraging all students to seek support, ask questions, and advocate for what they believe in creates a safe space for risk-taking and skill development.
Students whose families are involved and feel valued within the school community are less likely to miss school, which research has shown can cause students to fall behind academically.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
When students are aware that learning involves effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement of strategies, they are more resilient when they struggle.
As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.
Setting overall goals with actionable steps for achievement can help students feel more confident in their skills and abilities.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
Providing feedback that focuses on the process of developing skills conveys the importance of effort and motivates students to persist when learning.
During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.
Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community, which improves Motivation and can mitigate Stereotype Threat.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as setting the expectations that everyone is a reader.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
By observing, rereading, and closely analyzing published writing, students see examples and learn the strategies of good writing that they can integrate into their own Composition.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
Providing multiple texts on the same topic or theme allows students to interact with multiple perspectives and develop their critical thinking skills.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.
When students reframe negative thoughts and tell themselves kind self-statements, they practice positive self-talk.
When teachers ask questions or have students create questions before introducing a text, they activate student interest and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.
When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.
When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Student reflection on learning, particularly when done collaboratively, is critical for moving knowledge of content and strategies into Long-term Memory.
Response devices boost engagement by encouraging all students to answer every question.
Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.
Providing access to a variety of multimodal texts that align with the interests of learners allows them to practice digital, information, and Critical Literacy.
Giving students voice and choice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful and relevant to them.
Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Think-pair-share encourages meaningful student discussion by allowing for extra processing time and multiple shares.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.
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