Reading Recipe: Motivation


Anti-motivation was looking for his next victim while walking thru Vocabulary City. A gust of wind picked up a page from the Daily Reader and smacked Anti-Motivation in the face. Anti-Motivation took the page off and read the headline, “Comprehension Achieved.” Well, we can’t have that,” said Anti-Motivation. He thought to himself, “I will need to double my efforts now.” As he walked passed a school an evil grin spread across his face. He took out technology toys and started to pass them out at recess. He figured if he could distract and corrupt the new generation of minds he could retire earlier. Teachers saw Anti-Motivation and called in a detective to help them. When the detective arrived he shared his plan. This is what the plan said about Motivation.


Motivation for self-reading comes from within once a student learns how to read. Before self-reading occurs, motivation will manifest itself when the student connects with the text. The connection can come from personal interests or an outside source. Eric Jensen (2005) writes, “The best and most lasting way to motivate students involves creating long-term internal motivation through good parenting and through effective schooling that offers meaningful choices and appropriate curriculum” (p. 103). Students will want to read when it is relevant to their interests. Parents, educators, or the community at large can place pressure on students to read a certain text; however, the true connection for reading is not there in the student. For a true connection a student needs to be motivated to read.

Motivation is wanting to do something and then following through with it. Jensen (2005) writes, “Another way to think of motivations is that it consists of the willingness to be active (volition) combined with the actual behavior (meaningful participation)” (p. 102). For example, a person who has their pants on fire they will be motivated to put the fire out. Teachers need to create an environment where students want to read because they are on fire for books. There are several ways that teachers can inspire motivation in students. Debbie Miller (2002) writes about components of motivation, “… the value of student choice, the importance of creating literate environments that are purposeful, accessible, and organized, and the significance of teacher attitudes and expectations” (p. 42).By incorporating choice, attitudes, purposeful reading, and choice again motivation can be inspired in students.

For students to be intrinsically engaged the environment must be staged where students are able to choose. The role of the teacher is to create conditions for interest learning and then provide the activities and structure (Erwin, 2004). Jonathan C. Erwin (2004) describes two types of motivation internal and external. It is important that the teacher create an environment where the students have internal motivation. Erwin (2004) states, “…internal motivation, which depends on motivation to come from needs or drives within students” (p. 6). Motivation for students comes from being given a choice. The student established an ownership of their choice and is more engaged in something of their interest.

Along with choice students need to be involved in the process of choosing their learning process with reading. Gruwell (2007) writes, “The goal is to establish a collaborative an supportive academic environment that will draw your students into the learning process…” (p. 11). When students establish their own goals for reading they take ownership and become intrinsically motivated to see their learning though the process. Gruwell (2007) continues to say for engagement in a students a teacher needs to, “help them make connections between who they are as individuals and who they are as students, and encourage them to discover commonalities with their classmates” (p. 11). By encouraging students to make connection with one another they are establishing their own community for reading. Students then have an invested interest in their own reading. Erwin (2004) states, “When teachers provide a number of opportunities for students to gain power, these students will work harder on their assignments…” (p. 101). Students are more willing to read when it is something that they are interested in and have the power of choice for an assignment.

Erwin, J. (2004). The classroom of choice: Giving students what they need to and getting what you want. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Gruwell, E., The Freedom Writers Foundation. (2007). The freedom writers diary: Teacher’s guideNew York, NY: Broadway Books.

Jenson, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind: 2nd edition revised and updated. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning: Teaching comprehension in the primary grades. Markham, CANADA: Pembroke Publishers Limited.

The teachers called in the super hero Motivation. Motivation arrived and empowered the students with choice and the teachers with knowledge. Anti-Motivation ran off to hide in an abandon arcade to plot his next move. As Motivation flew off, he exclaimed, “take ownership of your own learning and you will go far!”

Here ends the series: Reading Recipe. I hope you have enjoyed our little adventures and learned a bit about the different parts for reading. If you find that I have made an error or want to say something, please leave a comment. Thanks!


Mrs. Berry


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