Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BEST Instruction, More Ways to Get at the HEART of the Core Curriculum

Dear Friends,

 As we are discussing Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), the heart of the curriculum, I want to share a few more specifics about motivating students. Because we want our students to have a greater appreciation for literacy and all it entails, we need to constantly work on motivating them to develop that attitude, and not with EXtrinsic motivators as they only work for a minute.

The previous post suggested that teachers' attitudes about students, teaching, and the content are main ingredients in promoting the value of learning. Indeed, a teacher's attitude lays the groundwork. I remember that if I was the happy mom at home, hubby and kids were happy. But if I was grouchy, hubby was cantankerous, and the boys were down right vile!! I soon learned that the same situation, time 5, existed at school. That's why I fought to hang on to even a thread of a good mood - at home and school. I didn't want a bad day to get worse if I could help it.

There are, however, several specific suggestions that we can follow to motivate students. Dr. Reutzel quoted Turner and Paris' article "How Literacy Tasks Influence Children's Motivation for Literacy" in The Reading Teacher (1995) to review six components related to motivating students to read and write. Let's take a closer look at these and reflect upon whether or not the 6 Cs are part of our instruction.
  1. CHOICE ~ Do we promote choice in reading and writing topics in our classes?
    1. Is EVERYTHING prescribed?
    2. "Students, you must read a book that is at least 250 pages; it must be on this topic; and you MUST create a diorama that has at least 50 of the 60 requirements listed on the rubric." THAT makes me love reading!
  2. CHALLENGE ~ Are students allowed to "modify tasks so the difficulty and interest levels are challenging?"  
    1. "Ms. Needlenose, may I FILM a scene from the book?"
    2. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Just do what the assignment says and DRAW it, okay?"
  3. CONTROL ~ Do you "show students how they can control their own learning?"
    1. That usually means modeling first, guiding them next, working with them until you can release the controls over to them.
    2. The "I do it; WE do it, WE do it, WE do it, WE do it; YOU do it!" model!
  4. COLLABORATION ~ Do you allow students to collaborate ...
    1. ... in groups of 2, 3, or 4?
    2. ... through flexible grouping?
  5. CONSTRUCTING MEANING ~ Do you give students the tools they need to construct meaning from text?
    1. Comprehension strategies
    2. Metacognitive strategies
    3. Writing to learn strategies
  6. CONSEQUENCES of the TASK ~ Do you include consequences to build "responsibility, ownership, and self regulation?"
    1. If you do ... "rockets' red glare will burst through the air!!!"
    2. If you don't ... "the world will end as we know it."
As I read about motivating students, I see most if not all of these components, or a variation of them, listed over and over. There are more - environment, relevance of material, understandable examples, etc - but these 6 consistently make a difference.

Take care!

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