Jere Brophy Conclusions
1. The teacher models an interest in learning. Kids must see that learning matters to us.
2. Teacher behaviors induce curiosity and suspense.
3. Teachers make abstract tasks concrete to students through demo lessons. We might use Think Aloud or mentor texts for modeling. We need to help our kids feel connected to the task by scaffolding their instruction.
4. Teachers make the objectives clear to the students not by posting it on a board, but rather in understandable student language. Kids must understand WHY learning XXX is important and see how they will reach the destination so to speak.
5. Teachers provide informative feedback to students. Taking a “state of the class” or using a rating scale for students to share their understanding helps the teacher gauge follow up instruction.
6. Teachers adapt tasks to student interests. By using interest inventories and by engaging students in one-on-one conversation, we can learn what they love. This helps us to make the match between curriculum needs and learning preferences.
7. Teachers give students choice for tasks. When possible, have assignment options so that your students’ latch onto at least one.
“If you care about kid’s interests, skills, and background knowledge, you’ll get better comprehension results.”
Suggestions from Dr. Duke
1) Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning has had positive results for increasing student engagement. It taps into student interests, builds skills over longer period of time, achieves a purpose beyond a school requirement, is interdisciplinary, and uses the student’s creativity, curiosity, and even building skills, and answers questions they have. By implementing Project Based Learning, we give students choice and voice with curriculum.
If Project Based Learning is new to you, it’s important to note that not all projects are equal. As you dive into implementing Project Based Learning, it’s important to ensure that the projects you choose fit the following criteria in order to result in high engagement:
- The project meets a real need in the world beyond the classroom, and the products that students create are used by real people.
- The project focuses on a problem, issue or topic that is relevant to students’ lives (the more directly, the better) or on a problem or issue that is actually being faced by adults in the world students will soon enter.
- The project sets up a model or simulation that is realistic, even if it is fictitious.
- The project involves tools, tasks or skills used by adults in real settings and by professionals in the workplace.
2) Grouping Texts by Topic (Text Sets)
Another option with text sets is pairing fiction and nonfiction titles on similar topics. Fictional books that include content information work well for this. A few pairs I’ve used are Stellaluna by Janell Cannon and Bats by Gail Gibbons or Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and Owls by Gail Gibbons. Certainly other nonfiction titles could be included too. The key is to learn what your students are interested in before you choose your titles.
3) Use Technology to Build Enthusiasm
Kids love tech, and we have so many fun options available to us both for accessing books as well as discussing them. Last year, I started a blog with my students. The kids were able to share book reviews, comment about common books they’d read, and more. Blogging allows kids to also explore photography, builds writing skills, and socialize.
If you’re not the blogging type, you can use websites like Today’s Meet for group discussion. It works like Twitter, but the teacher can save the discussion for reference later (to view how kids participate). I have also used Edmodo this way which looks more like a Facebook platform. I loved that I could pose certain questions and watch how the conversation evolves. One other tech idea is to use Kahoot or Pixlers for group discussion. With all of these tech ideas, it’s easy to tie in book clubs or lit circles too.
I think more than any of these ideas, knowing your students personally and deeply matters. Find out what they like reading so that you can match texts to their interests. Challenge them to think deeply and emphasize a growth mindset, effort, and stamina. Most importantly, remember that motivation impacts reading comprehension levels more than anything else we do.