Success for All Learners:
Keeping All Students Engaged & Motivated

By: Sarah Muir



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According to recent NAEP results, there is a “persistent achievement gap between the reading and writing scores of whites and students of color in the 8th an 12th grades...Furthermore, both whites and students of color scored lower in reading in 2005 as compared with 1992, and both male and female students also scored lower in 2005” (NAEP, 2006, p.xvi). The struggle with adolescent literacy and closing the achievement gap has always been an ongoing issue. Teachers and educational leaders are always searching for and researching methods to solve this issue. In Adolescents and Digital Literacies, Kajder shares many helpful strategies along with teaching practices that technology enables. Teachers share their personal stories and experiences along with some helpful methods that have been successful in keeping every students engaged and motivated.

Classroom Engagement & Motivation for All Learners
Success for all learners is vital in every classroom. Kajder discusses how motivation is a one of the many key factors in fully understanding adolescent literacy. “Motivation can determine whether adolescents engage with or disengage from literacy learning” (Kajder, 2010, p. xii). As students continue through high school, the demand for student engagement and motivational instruction increases. How do we motivate students? Keeping students motivated is what many teachers struggle with especially when there is such a broad array of needs for your typical student. Kajder stresses that all students need to be engaged in the learning that takes place. “Engaged adolescents demonstrate internal motivation, self-efficacy, and a desire for mastery” (Kajder, 2010, p.xii). Getting students to be motivated about learning is easier said than done. This means that teachers need to confront the diverse needs of adolescent learners with literacy abilities that vary. With that being said, multicultural literacy is necessary across all classrooms. Kajder expresses that “students should see value in their own cultures and the cultures of others in their classroom” (Kajder, 2010, p.xiii). This is one of the ways that our students make personal connections with the learning. Research says that “multicultural literacy is seeing, thinking, reading, writing, listening, and discussing in ways that critically confront and bridge social, cultural, and personal differences” (Kajder, 2010, p.xiii). Bridging the gap between social, cultural, and personal differences is the recipe for getting all students on one accord when the needs of the students are diverse.

Students come to the classroom multiply literate. They all have different needs that we have to meet as teachers. It would be great if teachers were given a time block that was large enough for every students literacy needs to be met individually (one-on-one) but time does not permit that teaching style in most cases. As a result the best approach according to Kajder is creating a motivating learning environment that allows students to be a part of an engaging and responsive learning environment.

New Age Youth and Technology

Kajder shared many research based recommendations that are proven to be effective during adolescent literacy instruction. One of the features that contributed to successful student learning was technology. Through out Adolescents and Digital Literacies, Kajder discussed how new-age youth are digital. We live in a digital age that makes it necessary to merge technology and learning. According to Kajder, “Adolescents are, by nature, social....they use literacies for social purposes as they create meanings and participate in shaping their immediate environments” (Kajder, 2010, pg. 7). In addition, Mahiri states that “ traditional conceptions of print-based literacy do not apprehend the richness and complexity of actual literacy practices in people’s lives enabled by new technologies that both magnify and simplify access to and creation of multimodal texts” ( Mahiri, 2006, pg.8) So what does this all mean? Traditional print literacy does not take into account all of the technological advances of the new age technology and our new age digital youth. Our students are into the newest or latest technology such as cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Ipads, Ipods, and many more means of technology. It is necessary to combine literacy and technology as opposed to using one or the other. As previously mentioned, motivating students is half the battle when it comes to the success of all students and using technology to get students motivated is brilliant!

Resources

Kajder, S. (2010).Adolescents and digital literacies learning alongside our students.NCTE Urbana:IL.

Mahiri, Jabari. “Digital DJ-ing: Rhythms of Learning in Urban School.” Language Arts 84.1 (2006): 55-62. Print.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2006). National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Reading Results: Executive Summary for Grades 4 and 8. Retrieved on July 3,2007, from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/reading.