I have always loved reading. For as long as I can recall, books have been my entertainment, my escape, my joy and my fascination. One of my earliest school memories is of my elemetary school librarian and her undermining my first grade teacher for me. She used to talk to me for hours and hours about the books that I read with my mom from the public library… I was reading chapter books by the box and non-fiction books about gymnastics I could get my hands on (especially about Nadia Comaneci)! However, my grade 1 teacher did not believe me. She told our class that we were only allowed to take books from the Easy section. We were, under no circumstances, allowed to take out chapter books or non-fic. I was so sad! My librarian used to tell my teacher that she needed my help during the recess and allow me to sign out whatever books I wanted. It was that small bit of kindness and those talks about books that fuelled my love of reading.
It was from this fire started so many years ago by my school librarian that as an adult I have always sought book clubs to join. I have always been a part of some kind of face-to-face book club. As I have gotten older and “adult” responsibilities have taken over the lives of my friends and myself, our book club meetings have become more and more infrequent. That is when I found Goodreads. I have connected with other readers through this website. We have shared reviews and comments. I have discovered new books. I have created a list of books I WANT to read and have a running record of books that I have read. It continues to fuel my personal love of reading.
I want to find ways to pass on this sharing and love of reading. Although I am not our school librarian, I do as my librarian did with my own students. I also try to have as many conversations as possible with older students on supervision or in the hallways. I thought that creating this wiki might a space, like a mini version of Goodreads, where I can share my love of reading with the students. They can in turn share their love of reading with me and with each other.
I know from my own personal experience that talking about the books we read with someone else can create motivation for reading in students. However, I wanted to find out if there was any research out there about how talking about books can motivate students to read. Following are direct quotations from five articles about reading motivation (in italics) followed by my own thoughts.
Alfie Kohn – How to Create Nonreaders: Reflections on Motivation, Learning, and Sharing Power
- What a teacher can do—all a teacher can do—is work with students to create a classroom culture, a climate, a curriculum that will nourish and sustain the fundamental inclinations that everyone starts out with: to make sense of oneself and the world, to become increasingly competent at tasks that are regarded as consequential, to connect with (and express oneself to) other people.
- I shudder to think how few novels I would have read over that period, and how much less pleasure (and insight) I would have derived from those I did manage to read, without the companionship of my fellow readers.
- Let students sample a work of literature, then generate their own questions and discussion topics—for themselves and one another.
The message I got from Alfie Kohn’s tongue and cheek article about how to create non-readers was the same message that I have heard throughout this course. We need to step back from our roles as the be all and end all fountain of information in our classrooms. If we are telling our students what to read, what to think about these readings, and even what questions we should be asking about them, we will make our students hate reading. We need to provide our students with their own choice of books to read. We need to provide opportunities for discussion about their reading. As a teacher in Saskatchewan, I know that there are certain themes, certain messages that we need to cover in our curriculum. It is not always possible, during instruction, to give students complete free choice. This is why, during other times, it is even more important to provide this free choice and the culture of sharing. As a companion to this article, I found this poster, titled Unlucky Arithmetic: 13 Ways to Create a Non-reader. It was created by Dean Schneider and Robin Smith and published in March/April 2001issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Gerald Lesperance – A Different Kind of Book Club
- Since many of the students at Whitman were already involved in recreational reading, they were attracted because they found validation in their love of the written word.
- The book club inspired them to increase their reading volume and to experiment with a broader range of literature.
This article was about a book club in a community that, from what I understand in the article, was a fairly isolated community. The book club was based around trips. They would, for example, plan a trip to see an exhibit. They would put together a list of recommended readings on the topics related to what they would see at the exhibit, they used the trip as the time to discuss what they read. There were no required readings (there is that idea of choice again)! The outcome of this was that the students read things they never would have picked up before. They engaged in reading because they had people to talk to about what they were reading. I think that this idea of a recommended reading list, but free choice within that list is one way that we as teachers can ensure that we cover the themes we need to touch while still providing choice to our students.
Carol A. Corcoran and Abby Mamalkis – Fifth Grade Students’ Perceptions of Reading Motivation Techniques
- Another way that the power of the classroom can be shared is through peer-led discussion groups
- In these peer discussion groups, teachers serve as a facilitator instead of an evaluator.
- In fact, student choice, within the teacher’s well-established classroom structure and requirements, is very important to motivate students to learn.
- Although the majority of students in this study identified being a good reader as important, very few of these students expressed that reading is something they like to do. Indeed, they expressed that reading is a boring way to spend time and they do not tell their friends about good books they have read. The results of this study underscore the value of and need for more frequent teacher read-alouds and literature discussions at the intermediate level.
Once again, student choice in reading seems to be so very important in increasing student motivation to read. Discussing literature seems to be equally important. Although the discussions mentioned in this article are face-to-face, I think that the influence of f2f discussions can equally be established through web 2.0 groups as well. If it is the students picking the readings and posting comments online through the wiki, can the same motivation to read be established? That remains to be seen.
Linda B. Gambrell – Creating classroom cultures that foster reading motivation
The teacher should let us read our own books and tell about them in a group.
- Opportunities to interact socially with others.
- Children frequently commented that they chose a book because someone had told them about it.
- Students who engaged in frequent discussions about their reading with friends and family were more motivated and had higher reading achievement scores than did students who did not have such interactions.
Once again, choice and discussion come back in this article. I particularly like the chart of the engaged reader in this article. That is truly the ultimate goal of reading teachers: for our students to be ENGAGED readers. Creating motivation and providing social interaction are two important elements in this.
J. Worthy – “More than just reading”
- Social influences and interactions can help enhance students’ interest in reading for pleasure.
- book conversations with teachers and peers have been found to be beneficial and engaging
- Students value the recommendations of teachers and family members as well as their own peers
- Students’ reading choices were often influenced by families, teachers, tutors, and peers. Many of the favorite books had previously been read in their classrooms and/or by their tutors
Again, social interaction can increase student motivation for reading. It is the last point from this article that plays most directly with the wikispace. This space can be used to find book recommendations for further reading.
About the project
From my personal experience and from the readings mentioned above, for my project, I decided to create this Resource Center Wiki. Along with this wiki, I created two forms through which students can submit book information. The first form is used to collect book reviews and the second form is used to collect book suggestions. The wiki is organized in such a way that students can search for books based on the type of book. Currently, only the AR English books are further broken down into reading level. As more books in the Non-AR and French sections are added, these will also be broken down into these three categories: Easy, Fiction, Non-Fiction. There is also a discussion section.
At first, I was adding new books to the bottom of the list, as you would write a normal text. However, I quickly realized that if a student checked the wiki regularly for new books, they would have to scroll through a lot of books to get to the new ones. So, I decided to start adding the new books to the top of the list. I created a template from which to copy and easily paste the information needed in the correct format. I played around with several different ways but I wanted to make it as easy as possible so that this job can be transferred to our library or tech leadership teams (groups of students from the senior grades taking on responsibilities).
I am hoping to eventually use the discussion group to create a virtual book club with the students. I would like to use a survey to pick the book and use the discussion are to post comments about the book as we read.
There is one area of the wiki that I am really NOT pleased with. I wish that the books could be searched in more than one way… I am not sure if this is possible in a wiki. I will continue to explore different ways to use the wiki or other means for creating this type of place for sharing reading.
I am always welcome to suggestions for how to improve the wiki!
Corcoran, C. A.; Mamalakis, A. (2009, September 22). Fifth grade students’ perceptions of reading motivation techniques The Free Library. (2009). Retrieved December 04, 2010 from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Fifth grade students’ perceptions of reading motivation techniques.-a0209103174
Gambrell, L.B. (1996). Creating classroom cultures that foster reading motivation. The Reading Teacher, 50(1), 14-25.
Kohn, A. (2010). How to create nonreaders: Reflections on motivation, learning, and sharing power. English Journal,
Lesperance, Gerald. (2002). A different kind of book club. American Educator, 26(1), 42-48.
Worthy, J., Patterson, E., Salas, R., Prater, S., & Turner, M. (2002). “More than just reading”: The human factor in reaching resistant readings. Reading Research and Instruction, 41(2), 177-202.
Further Recommended Readings
Burke, A. & Hammett, R.F. (Eds.). (2009). Assessing new literacies: Perspectives from the classroom. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
Kajder, S.B. (2006). Bringing the outside in: Visual ways to engage reluctant readers. United States: Stenhouse Publishers.
Miller, Donalyn. (2009). The book whisperer: Awakening the inner reader in every child. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Moss, B. & Lapp, D. (Eds.). (2010). Teaching new literacies in grades K-3: Resources for 21st-century classrooms. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.