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IRA Member Since: 2008
April Wulber is a language arts specialist at the Darke County Educational Service Center in Greenville, Ohio. She serves as the leader for the Great Lakes Teachers' Choices team. How do you motivate students to want to read?
I am no longer teaching in the classroom and working with students, but I think that you worded this question well—students have to be motivated to want to read and if that motivation can be intrinsic then they are much better off. In order to get students motivated to read, I think they first need to see me reading and enjoying what I’m reading. If I am reading something that isn’t interesting to me, then I won’t have many good things to say about it. If I’m reading something that I really enjoy, then I will have lots to talk about and share with my students; this can show them that I enjoy reading and I want to share what I’m reading with others.
I also think that students need time to read things that they are interested in. I understand the need to sometimes read materials that the teacher has chosen, but I think students need to have choice in their reading most of the time. If students seem to not be able to determine something that they enjoy reading, then I need to be sure that I know that student well enough to be able to find a book that is appropriate for his/her reading level and is interesting as well. Once you get a student hooked on reading “the right” book, then you’ve completed your work at nudging them, they will take off on their own. What professional books are you reading right now?
I am constantly reading, generally several books at a time. I have the books TEACHING LITERACY by Kieran Egan, published by Corwin Press, and ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR WORD STUDY by Timothy Rasinski & Jerry Zutell, published by Scholastic, on my desk right now. I have recently read DRIVE by Dan Pink and TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION by Doug Lemov. I just ordered THE BOOK WHISPERER and I’ve also got a book on the Common Core on my Kindle. Those are just the professional books! As a team leader for the Teachers’ Choices project, I’ve got about 400 brand new books awaiting my shelf. The best I’ve read so far is PHANTOMS IN THE SNOW by Kathleen Benner Duble. What are the best read aloud and/or picture books you have used this year?
I have read so many books over the past year or so and it is difficult to choose favorites. One very recent book I’ve read that was outstanding was EVEN AN OCTOPUS NEEDS A HOME (Irene Kelly), a nonfiction book about animal homes for primary aged students. A book that stands out in my mind from last year is BELLA AND STELLA COME HOME (Anika Denise). This is a touching book about a little girl and her family moving to a new house and the fears that children have through that process. A historical fiction chapter book that I’ve recently read and think is wonderful is SAVING ZASHA (Randi Barrow). This moving book is about a family who finds a dog in post-World War II Russia where there are not supposed to be any dogs. One more favorite is A BALLOON FOR ISABEL (Deborah Underwood). What do you consider to be your proudest career moment?
A few years ago when I was teaching first grade, I had a very bright student who was unmotivated. He would literally not do anything unless you stood behind him and prompted him with every step. I worked with this young man all year long and was often frustrated. The following year, I left the classroom and came to work in my current position at our Educational Service Center. I still had many friends at my school and that fall another teacher brought me a note from this student wishing that I would come back to school. I certainly felt that I wasn’t getting through to this young man, but sometimes you never know when the seeds you plant will take root. What do you like to do when you’re not wearing your educator hat?
I recently lost my husband to cancer and became a single mother to a toddler. She is now three and I spend much of my free time pushing her on the swings, dressing baby dolls, and watching her ride her bike. We also love to talk walks to the library and the playground. I enjoy gardening, even the weeding part, and reading, of course. I also like to travel.
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