When thinking about reading instruction in your classroom, do students who are obviously bored come to mind? Yes, the ones with sleepy eyes and no smiles. Sadly, this happens in all classrooms. While some students love reading from the start, others travel on a journey. During this time, students need a lot of support and motivation. They need to learn why loving to read helps them understand the words and allows them to travel anywhere! So, let’s explore the correlation between motivation and reading comprehension!
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Two Types of Motivation
Before diving into the connection between motivation and reading comprehension, it is essential to understand motivation. Specifically, there are two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is where the motivation comes from inside. It is the drive, need, and want to do something right. Ultimately, it is personal and comes from within. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside. An outside source provides motivation, such as prizes and special rewards.
Both types of motivation impact whether or not a student can truly comprehend what they read. When a student is learning to read, it is essential to have both present! Reading is a challenging journey that requires hard work, so students need to be motivated.
Connecting Motivation and Reading Comprehension
Now that we understand motivation, let’s dive into how this impacts a student’s ability to comprehend.
Honestly, the reasoning goes down to the brain and science. When learning to read, the brain is basically like a fork in the road. On one side, the brain can say we are interested and motivated to read. However, the other side can say reading is boring and unenjoyable. If the brain is motivated, it wants to focus much higher. If it is not motivated, the brain will not want to focus, and the student will not want to build skills. Ultimately, motivation and reading comprehension go hand-in-hand!
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Focusing on the Brain
We actually have a turn-on switch that helps our students focus. It is how the brain works with the connections between the neurons and dendrites and the processing speed for thoughts. Science shows that these aspects are almost instantly affected by whether or not a student shows interest and motivation.
So, it is obvious how important motivation is when teaching reading comprehension. If a student is not focused, their brain is not working at full capacity. If a student is focused, they are excited and motivated. This will result in their brain working at full capacity to focus better and work harder.
Turning on Motivation
Teachers want all students to comprehend what they read. So, it makes sense that they want to turn on the switch for all students. However, it is not that easy. Teachers cannot just click a button and make students enjoy every story. So, what else can we do when we have students who just do not like to read? Let’s look into easy-to-implement choices that will help improve motivation among all students!
- Offering Choices: This makes a big difference! It involves providing choices in the text students read. For example, the current focus is main idea and supporting details. Instead of selecting one passage for everyone to read, select two or three for students to pick from. They can all be on the same topic, but each has its own focus. An example would be a passage on spiders, spider monkeys, and penguins. Students can all complete the same activity while the teacher walks around to check the main idea and details. Since students have a choice, their interest will be higher, which means their motivation will be, too.
- Achievable Reading Goals: Goal setting is one of the most impactful ways to motivate students. However, the goals need to be meaningful and personal. If you want to improve motivation and reading comprehension, the goals need to be attainable. Students need one-on-one conferences and conversations with their teacher to see what they need to do to meet their goals. By making it personal, they have intrinsic motivation. Then, the teacher can have some type of extrinsic motivation as they have check-in conferences and work towards their goal. Ultimately, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will play a huge role in helping students reach their reading goals.
- Provide Peer Support and Connections to Reading: Reading is a tough journey. No one wants to be on it alone. So, peer support can look different in each classroom. It could be a turn-and-talk or group talk. Additionally, it could be using chips or something physical to make sure each student is putting their worth into a conversation. It can even be Reading Comprehension Games! Essentially, peer support allows students to share their ideas while hearing other people’s opinions and thoughts. This is an amazing way to share different points of view!
- Multimodal teaching: Everyone likes something different when building motivation and reading comprehension. So, think about different engagement strategies. You want different learning tactics, such as visual, audio, and verbal, to engage students. You can even use the Building Comprehension Strategies Bundle. This breaks down reading comprehension into strategies. Students will love seeing reading comprehension come to life with these lessons!
Reading Comprehension Resources
Motivation is a key element if teachers want students to understand what they read. However, believing this and implementing it in the classroom is totally different! So, there are helpful resources to start building motivation and reading comprehension in the classroom. For example, the Building Comprehension Bundle has TONS of lessons and activities broken down by skill. There is even a Reading Comprehension Skills and Strategies Bundle! Students will focus on tons of literary elements by applying different strategies.
I cannot stress the connection between motivation and reading comprehension enough! If students are not motivated, their brains will not help them focus on building their skills. So, they need to be part of the conversation when building their motivation. Thankfully, there are multiple helpful ways to build motivation in students! By applying the tips above, students can set high goals for themselves and have the support of their teachers and classmates!
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