Big Ideas in Literacy
Motivation and Engagement
Without students’ genuine interest, there will always be some lack of participation or other form of disconnection. Students need a reason to be motivated before they will actually engage. Marzano (2011) explains that feelings influence thinking. This means that students’ thinking and learning is enhanced, limited, or otherwise affected by their general and specific emotional state (Jensen, 2005). The higher-order thinking skills in which teachers desire students to engage involve focusing on the present activity without being distracted by external circumstances or personal sensations. Eric Jensen explains that teachers don’t have to be subject to the range of moods that enter their classrooms. Instead, it is worth incorporating emotional engagement into lesson plans by fostering an optimal emotional state for engagement.
To help foster motivation by heightening students’ emotions, reading and writing activities should be personalized and occasionally controversial; activities should highlight important—but relevant—questions and incorporate movement (for example, students might write about a sports activity, travel outside of school to interview someone, or observe an activity).
Video and Reflection: Watch Engaging Students in Authentic Reading and Writing in which a high school English teacher discussed her real-world literature class. You may want to take notes on the issues below.
- Before you watch: Think about how you ascertain the kinds of reading and writing that engage your students.
- Watch the video: As you watch, consider other factors besides literature selections that engage students.
Jenee Ramos engages students in reading and writing about topics that are relevant to their lives.
Teacher: Jenee Ramos
School: Brookline High School, Brookline, MA
Discipline: English (Real-World Literature)
Lesson Topic: Polishing creative pieces for publishing
Lesson Month: May
Number of Students: 23
- Reflect: Now consider how you would incorporate your students’ interest into reading and writing activities.