Tell me about it
You might think that students want to avoid reading complex text, but research shows that students seek challenge and are motivated by it. Students are interested in challenging content and they are willing to push through the extra work. The struggle should not overpower students, however. Students need to be supported in the experience of reading challenging material so they are able to experience growth and see progress.
Considerations for instructional planning
- Begin by selecting manageable portions of text. Challenging texts do not need to be lengthy.
- Choose texts that inspire deep reading.
- Carefully scaffold text dependent questions so that students can experience early success answering them and gain stamina for the challenge of reading complex text.
- All texts that a student encounters should not provide a struggle - students need to have opportunities to read texts that are at their level. Consider text sets that offer varied levels of reading complexity on a topic.
Be sure to's
- Be honest with your students and let them know that the text is challenging but that the experience will be productive and not needlessly frustrating. You are going to support them.
- Have a variety of scaffolds available and help students know which ones they need when.
- Let students explore their passions by allowing student choice.
Tools and Resources
- Stari aims to generate higher levels of proficiency in 6th to 9th grade students through highly engaging texts to address gaps in fluency, decoding, reading stamina, and basic comprehension.
- Newsela is a site that provides informational texts at different complexity levels on a vast number topics. The site also offers text sets.
- 7 Actions that Teachers Can Take Right Now: Text Complexity by Elfrieda H. Hiebert includes action steps for activating student passions.
- Check out the Student Achievement Partners Text Set Project and consider creating your own!
- Assessing Adolescents' Motivation to Read by Sharon M. Pitcher et al. offers many recommendations for how a student's preferred types of reading and instruction can be used in middle school and high school classrooms.
- Best Practices in Motivating Students to Read by John Guthrie presents the prevailing motivations that impact students' interest and perseverance as well as the instructional practices that encourage them.
- Instructional Strategies Motivate and Engage Students in Deeper Learning from SREB investigates research-based strategies that help teachers motivate students in building 21st century learning skills.