Writing: Big Ideas
Engagement and Motivation in Writing
Many students, including those who are considered proficient readers, struggle with writing across the disciplines. Writing requires a different set of cognitive demands than reading, and these demands may be challenging for students. Performance standards have been created (including the Common Core State Standards) to delineate what and how students should write; however, key ingredients for effective writing are motivation and engagement. One of the major challenges for teachers is to create writing assignments that not only promote learning, but that also engage students in writing about what they know and wish to explore further.
One of the essential factors in student engagement is “choice.” When students can choose what they want to read or write about, their performance improves. This is not always possible within a rigid curriculum. However, there should be numerous opportunities for student choice of writing topics with a variety of written representations. This could include writing procedures for a science experiment or drawing a representation that illustrates those procedures. Within a unit of study, presenting students with choices for demonstrating and enhancing their learning can motivate them to communicate their ideas, which will result in improved writing.
A second factor in students’ motivation and engagement is the use of technology to enhance learning and to represent their understanding. Providing students with opportunities to create representations of their understanding with technology can motivate them to learn and to share their ideas with others. Commonly referred to as blended learning, <p><strong>blended learning</strong><br /> The integration of traditional teaching and learning with online learning to enhance students’ knowledge and motivation. Providing students with opportunities to create representations of their understanding with technology can motivate them to learn and to share their ideas with others. Students learn through a combination of teacher instruction and feedback with the use of the Internet and particular technology that support disciplinary content.</p> students learn through a combination of teacher instruction and feedback with learning through the use of the Internet and particular technology. For example, students may share their ideas on a topic or unit of study on email with a discussion partner to talk about their responses to a text the class has read. This conversational format may encourage some students to share ideas that they would not offer in a whole-class discussion or generate in an essay. They may also use technology to share their understanding through personal blogs, PowerPoint presentations, or participation in Google Hangouts. The use of technology to research, confirm, and/or communicate ideas enriches and personalizes learning. When doing so, students become creators as well as consumers (Lapp, Fisher, Frey, & Gonzalez, 2014).
Students need to identify the purpose, goals, and audience for their writing. Students’ choice of audience will increase their motivation and engagement in their writing. Understanding why they are writing and for whom is essential for them to refine their writing and to add “voice” to their ideas by integrating their existing knowledge with new information. In the next four units, you will examine specific research and related classroom practices for reading and writing in your specific discipline.
Reflect: Which writing activities have you assigned that were most engaging and successful for your students in their learning? Why do you think students responded positively to this writing experience?
Congratulations! You have completed Part I of the course. Next, go to page 14 to view the references for Units 1–4, or select a link below to begin Part II for your discipline: