Monday, July 6, 2015

Lulu on Motivation

Lulu Wang
Content Area Literacy
Motivation of Content Literacy
During the jigsaw experience, I observed how a student can be motivated and engaged in reading. I learned what a teacher should do to help the students really enjoy reading. After talking with my peers, I gained many new ideas about how to help students to read, and gained some tips myself.
In the conversations we had, we discussed how teachers should give students more choices when books introduced, but we agreed there should be boundaries. I have strong feelings about this topic. When I was at high school my teacher forced me to read books that were too difficult. I felt like I did not have a choice. I know when I am a teacher I will have to give students the freedom to choose, but within a collection of books that I have chosen that will keep interested and challenged. I still have questions on how to choose books that will accomplish this. How do I select books that get student excited about reading that don’t push them too hard?
I also agree that reading connected with social interactions could make students more engaged. We talked about how a student can refer to the real life after they read certain books. For example, the girl that read a book about bad behavior and realized that there are consequences. Students share what they read with their parents and friends and it will help them to build the relationships. If these types of interactions are happening, it will encourage more reading. If students are talking to each other about what they are reading, it will lead to natural collaborations. I think when I am teaching in the future, I will use real-life examples to connect with the content to help students’ understand. This will give them the opportunity to talk about their thoughts and share with the peers on what they read and what problems occurred.
Personally, I did not like it when the teacher asked me broad questions about what I learned from a particular reading. In my opinion this is a really big question and it would always put pressure on me. As mentioned before, I think the best the way to get student feedback on particular book or reading would be to ask them specific questions relating to their opinion of what they read and then share that with their peers. Now that I am going to teach elementary children, I need to find solutions to the issue of the shy students who will be too shy share to share and talk to the other students.  I realize now, I am going to have to be innovative with the many strategies so that my students are engaged and pushed to improve.
We also talked about that fact that some students do not feel engaged because their teacher gave them books that were not challenging. The teacher should not tell the students which books are difficult, moderate, or easy. The teacher should tell the students that all the books are a challenge to read. Students will feel equal and accomplished. In my own opinion if my teacher gave me a choice between an easy book and a difficult book, I would definition choose the easy one.  I’ll keep this in mind when I introducing my students to potential books.  I am going to have to be observant and flexible to make sure all my students are challenged.

From what I observed from this course, the teacher’s role is essential in leveraging social activity around reading. What I remember, when I was a student in China, most of my teacher just lead us through the textbook in most stale way possible. It was really painful for me that I did not enjoy reading most of the time. I think that teacher should come up some activities that could help students get excited about reading.


  1. Lulu, since you are teaching elementary children there are many tools you can use to help you find the appropriate leveled readers for your students. Sometimes readers come in prepackaged programs but you can also determine the reading level by knowing the Lexile or some other leveling system ( You will most likely have some system of assessment for students that you;ll use frequently to determine their reading levels as they go through the year. This will help you recommend books for students to read independently and books that you could use for students to read with guidance on an instructional level. You're correct that books that are at the frustration level for students do little good.

    Also, I have noticed that a couple people in class seem reluctant to give students complete control over their independent reading. I am not sure what they may be thinking is inappropriate. I think inappropriate might be books with adult themes or books that are to difficult and are at the frustration level of reading. Other than that I think any text is fine. The sheer volume of reading is what is important, not so much the content.

  2. Hi Lulu,
    You mention what books to choose which can get students excited about their topics. Why not leave that to the students by asking them this question and see what they come up with. Also, some books with illustrations will be really appealing for the visual learners, and add complement the text.

  3. From Drew.......Lulu,

    I always find it really interesting to read perspectives like yours. I think we have very opposite approaches to reading material. I would always get excited when a teacher asked me broad questions about reading, I found small questions: what does the author say here, what is going on in this part of the reading, to be really really boring, but being asked great big questions were always hugely motivating for me. I find it hugely valuable to read your post and get an insight into what it’s like for students who feel completely different from me.

    I also think there are some cultural differences that you are likely facing when you’re teaching mostly Asian students. I have noticed that “big picture” thinking is an area where a lot of my Taiwanese students struggle. They are very very good at doing things like finding evidence in a text, or answering direct questions, but when they are asked to take what they’ve read and make connections, or think about implications, or think critically they really start to struggle. I think this is something that needs to be modelled very explicitly by the teacher.

    One technique I’ve found really helpful is where I show the kids three kinds of connections they can make: text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text. These are connections that I walk them through and really show explicitly how to do.

    Text-to-self is where a part of a story or piece of writing reminds them of themselves or their own life, “Johnny in the story hates broccoli! I hate broccoli too!” Text-to-world is where the text reminds them of something they know about the world, “Lucy lives out in the country, I know there are not a lot of cars or buses out there so it would be hard for her to get around.” Text-to-text is connection between books, “Hsieh in this story is a lot like Jessica in that other story we read, they are both very shy.”

    Modelling this kind of activity and helping kids make these connections might help them start to get a little more excited about reading.