Today I have two articles about wanting kids to have intrinsic, vs. extrinsic, motivation for reading, and two that address the lack of play in early elementary school classrooms today. These are both topics near and dear to my heart, and I hope you will find these articles of interest.
Michelle Baldwin: "Just like that… my students’ motivation to read – because they love reading and want to learn more – flipped like a switch. This is what happens every single time we apply extrinsic motivation to something we want to encourage. EVERY. TIME. I’ve taught long enough to see cycles of rewards for reading… or learning to play the recorder… or learning multiplication tables… whatever you want to add to the list. You might help a kid memorize something or change a behavior, but extrinsic rewards always fail on a long-term basis. ...
I saw firsthand what happened to my littles when they were incentivized with something other than reading itself. They already loved reading… but then their focus changed for the worse. I have some “badge damage” to undo with a few of my kids."
Me: I see my daughter excited about coins and points in an app that she likes to play, and I cringe a bit. I worry about next year, when I believe she'll have to start logging Accelerated Reader points at school. I want her to her to read for the love of it, not for points or badges or gold stars. There's a nice list of references in Michelle's piece, if any of you would like to read more about this subject.
Reading Is Its Own Reward: Ways to encourage kids' #SummerReading + the 7th Annual #Bookaday Challenge http://ow.ly/hV9i300dxGS @donalynbooks [This post is actually from last year, but I re-shared it. The 8th challenge is starting soon.]
Donalyn Miller: "While you may be able to share the success of individual summer reading programs, there is little evidence that such programs foster lifelong reading habits or engage children with reading after the program ends. I suspect that most schools with successful summer reading programs invest in students’ reading lives all year long. If we want to engage our students with reading over the summer, we must focus our efforts on the fundamental best practices that encourage children to read for a lifetime instead of short-term external goals."
Me: When I was a kid, I was never particularly motivated by summer reading programs. I do remember participating in the town library's program at least once, and I think I may have gotten a book at the end to show for it. But this memory pales in comparison to my many other childhood memories of being immersed in books in locations indoors and out. One of the reasons I loved summer as a kid was because I had more time to read. I was lucky. I had time. I had books. I had choice. I had a mom who took me to bookstores and the library. I had a library within biking distance (when I was old enough). I wish that all kids had such opportunities, and I'm glad to see Donalyn, in this important post, talking about what kids need from their schools to nurture the intrinsic rewards of reading.
I'm going to try to participate in Donalyn's #BookADay challenge again this summer (I did it last year). I'm sure I'll mostly end up posting about picture books, but I certainly average more than one of those a day, so it won't be difficult. My plan is to choose a book worth highlighting for each #BookADay post on Twitter. And because I'm a compulsive list-maker, I'll probably round them periodically on my blog. Happy Summer Reading to you all!
Gaye Groover Christmus: "If your son or daughter doesn't learn to read in kindergarten, relax. Because many, many things are worse than not learning to read in kindergarten. Here are four of them:
Limited time for creative play. Young children learn by playing. They learn by digging and dancing and building and knocking things down, not by filling out piles of worksheets. And they learn by interacting with other children, solving problems, sharing and cooperating, not by drilling phonics. "
Me: Gaye Groover Christmus seeks to reassure parents whose kids don't learn to read during kindergarten, citing the example of her own son who learned to read late, and just graduated from college. She goes on to discuss other issues prevalent in today's early elementary school classrooms: lack of creative play, limited physical activity, teaching that focuses on standards and testing, and "frustration and a sense of failure" in kids who are not meeting (unrealistic) expectations. I think that this last point is particularly important, because it is this frustration (the kid who can't sit still, the kid who struggles with the book report, etc.) that sucks away the joy of learning.
Shawna Coppola: "WHAT IF we spent a year devoted to re-discovering our “play mojo”? We’ve heard a lot about the benefits of play over the past year, particularly about how it supports the development of speaking and listening skills, collaboration, and written expression, among other things. We also know that most children, no matter what their age, are over-scheduled and wracked with more anxiety than ever before. And even though we see play as a “natural” behavior, Christakis argues that, like breastfeeding (another supposedly natural behavior among humans), play “is actually quite hard to accomplish without intention and assistance”"
Me: This post by Shawna Coppola, convinced me to take a look at Erika Christakis' book. I've quoted some of Erika's articles, but hadn't picked up the book because my own daughter is no longer in preschool. Shawna, however, draws conclusions from the book regarding the education of older kids, too. Shawna's post is well worth a read for anyone looking for ideas to improve classroom education for kids. The point about learning through play requiring intentional effort particularly resonated with me.