Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Synopsis

How can we keep students attentive, thoughtful, and inquisitive about learning in language arts? It certainly takes more than new standards and assessments. In this book, Mary Jo Fresch shows how you can use the joyful learning framework introduced in Engaging Minds in the Classroom to better engage students in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and other elements of language arts learning. She provides innovative instructional approaches for diverse students at all grade levels, linking the strategies to the research that demonstrates the effects of motivation and engagement on student success.

Educators striving to meet the multiple challenges of standards, assessments, ELL instruction, and achievement gaps have more reasons than ever before to attend to this critical aspect of learning. Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms will inspire you to make the kinds of changes in your classroom that will truly engage students' minds--by helping them experience joy in learning.

Mary Jo Fresch is a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University. She is the author of multiple works on literacy instruction, including The Power of Picture Books (with Peggy Harkins) and Teaching and Assessing Spelling (with Aileen Wheaton).

Excerpt

What is it that really engages students in learning? How can we keep students attentive, thoughtful, and inquisitive about learning? In their foundational book for this series, Engaging Minds in the Classroom: The Surprising Power of Joy (2014), Michael F. Opitz and Michael P. Ford noted that “if we truly want to advance the learning of all students, we need to seriously consider how noncognitive skills influence learning” (p. 3). Noncognitive skills include attributes such as resilience, perseverance, self-control, and curiosity; encouraging students to develop these affective dimensions of learning is, basically, what joyful learning (and joyful teaching) is all about. After years of language arts presentations about spelling, word study, and the history of the English language, I’ve identified five key principles that collectively contribute to the joyful learning of language arts.

Enthusiasm is contagious. If you love the content you teach, students will catch that passion. If you haven’t already read the work of Donald Graves (e.g., Writing: Teachers & Children at Work, 1983), you should! His legacy is one of bringing joy to being a writer. Get excited about the writing your students do, and they will reciprocate with writing that can amaze you. Our enthusiasm makes students want to write, rather than feeling required to write. Share your own writing with students to kick-start the enthusiasm. I often read students a story about my grandfather’s name-saint day (an Italian celebration) and the ice cream store in Akron, Ohio, we went to each August.

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