The Art of Motivation: Engaging the Disengaged Readers

Article excerpt

TO THIS DAY, I REMEMBER THE FIRST DAY THAT WORDS ON A PAGE HAD MEANING TO ME... MR. FALKER HAD REACHED INTO THE MOST LONELY DARKNESS AND PULLED ME INTO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT AND SAT ME ON A SHOOTING STAR I SHALL NEVER FORGET HIM...

THANK YOU, MR. FALKER

Patricia Polacco, 1998

Our hope and dream: That all our students will have precious moments to share about teachers like Mr. Falker and how these teachers have inspired them to become good readers and to love reading. Patricia Polacco's story is evidence that there IS a Mr. Falker and each one of us can be THAT Mr. Falker!

Acknowledging that engaging ALL readers, particularly the unmotivated, reluctant readers, is essential to student success, this issue is dedicated to the theme: "Transforming disengaged readers into engaged readers in our classroom." We are pleased and proud of the breadth and depth of the articles addressing this particular theme by authors who stimulate our thinking, challenge our understandings, and invigorate our teaching.

First, Nancy Padak and Cheryl Potenza-Radis convince us that while "it's easy to work with readers who come to us intrinsically motivated and full of enthusiasm... it's our responsibility to provide purposeful and authentic literacy environments for all our readers, especially those who are struggling or disengaged. Their article "Motivating struggling readers: Three keys to success" stresses that "Authentic reading leads to purposeful, engaged reading. Engaged reading yields improved reading. And improved reading leads to more authentic reading." Then follows Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher's "Graphic novels: Composing with sequential art in high school English and history" - a persuasive articulation of the impact of graphic novels in students' writing. The article argues for students to be "given the opportunity to marry words with images [so] they create new knowledge for themselves." James E. Fredricksen calls attention to the need "to make our course content both relevant and possible for students to be successful" if we are determined to motivate the disengaged readers. His article "Building conscious competence: Reading our students, sharing our practice" challenges us to consider a different approach to motivating the disengaged readers - "reading readers and reading our teaching." In "Building comprehension for reading novels: The prereading-schema building process" Nancy A. Anderson and Clare E. Hite propose an independent strategy - the prereading schemabuilding process to activate readers' prior knowledge and build a scaffold for new knowledge such as vocabulary and historical/cultural settings. Barry Lane not only delights us with his cartoon creations in "In teachers and students we trust: Real education reform is a writer's workshop" but also leaves us with food for thought: "Writing is more of a shovel, less of a picture frame. Writing is a dynamic tool for learning, not a static template for enclosing our thoughts." Jacqueline A. Parke and Cynthia L. Meyer introduce us to Jared and Henry in their article "Motivating young readers: Theory into practice," and invite us to shadow these two struggling readers as they engaged in motivational strategies during intervention sessions and began to become actively involved in their own learning.

"When [students] fail to see themselves in books, they may regard reading as an activity for others and not for them." Concerned about the lack of attention given to global literature and the "dangers in the literary omission of those who are not in the cultural mainstream," the International Reading Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (IRA/ CL/R/SIG) formed a committee in 1995 to review and recognize 25 Notable Books for a Global Society. …