There are seven rules of engagement for teachers to motivate older students and help them fulfil their literacy potential.
Literacy educators Sharon and Phil Callen were again joined by Year 6/7 teacher Giselle Pulford on the The Teacher’s Tool Kit for Literacy podcast.
This time on Episode 22, the trio delve into the article written by Linda Gambrell, which details the seven rules of engagement for older readers to become motivated in the classroom.
Firstly, the number one rule is that “students are more motivated to read when the reading tasks and activities are relevant to their lives”.
To achieve this, Giselle encouraged teachers to pick up on the ‘little things’ and build relationships with their students. By doing this, you will be able to select the right texts to suit your students’ interests and encourage reading beyond the classroom, as opposed to ‘screen time’.
“There are other attractive demands for students rather than picking up a book, and I am referring to screen life and our social media use and our YouTube viewing … as a teacher, I need to be giving them that opportunity to be reading. And I need to be encouraging writing and developing that motivation because they may not be choosing that as their first choice outside of school,” Giselle said.
“I look at the texts that are most commonly read and used in my classroom. There are students who want to read a fantasy one or a science fiction, but so many of the students are picking up books that are about teenagers and they’re picking up books that are about drama in teen lives or relationships.
“It’s important for teachers to know about their students, even just little things that can help link students to a book. I actually had a student who had a turtle for a pet … and so in that particular book, the main character has a turtle. So there was this one little moment that I could connect that child to that book outside of the fact that the book was about relationships and teenage life.
“So I think it’s knowing enough about the students to be able to say, ‘oh, I’ve got books about football’, or ‘I know this one’, or ‘I know you’ve been watching this series, here’s a book that’s very similar to that TV show’. It’s knowing enough little bits to make the connection to a book that makes it relevant to that particular child’s life.”
The second and fourth rules – ‘students are motivated to read when they have access to a wide range of reading materials’ and ‘students are more motivated to read when they have opportunities to make choices about what they read and how they engage in and complete literacy tasks’ – are largely promoted in Giselle’s class through her classroom library, which offers great diversity in the types of materials available.
“There’s so many different things in my class library, but it’s about how do I show them what’s in that library and how do I get them to want to read it and approach this wall of books, because it could end up being the same problem that happens when they walk into any other place with books where they’re just scanning and not sure how to make a choice that fits them,” she said.
Giselle also ensures that every day has a designated slot for reading, which coincides with the third rule of ‘students are motivated to read when they have ample opportunities to engage in sustained reading’.
“I have reading as a set time every single day, but it’s not the exact same time in the day, and often it will change daily and weekly … part of that is about giving some flexibility in the day so that if there’s students who are in other programs, I don’t want them always feeling like they missed the reading time,” she said.