I'm working on a research paper focusing on students (middle and high school) who are unmotivated to read either in class or on their own. Any thoughts on how to address motivation issues and engage these students would be appreciated. Thanks!

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I have done some simple Power-Points creating digital story books. I am in the elementary school but you can cater it to middle or high school. You have the students make alternate endings and share their books. I will provide you with an example. You can modify toward "The Great Gatsby" or whatever they read in high school these days.
This one is Three Little Pigs but it can give you the idea. http://katie.resteghini.googlepages.com/documents">http://katie.resteghini.googlepages.com/documents

Another thing to check out is Kar2ouch. They can create their own readings/writings and collaborate with each other and get excited about reading and writing. So google kar2ouch and get a better idea what I am talking about. Hope this gives you some idea.
I teach gifted (top 1%) elementary kids and it may come as a surprise that some of them don't read for pleasure. Some suggestions: get them to read anything: non-fiction, Sports Illustrated, graphic novels, newspapers, whatever. Sometimes you can find series they will read and it may get them excited, latest favorites for my kids--Eragon, Warriors, Pendragon, Alex Rider, Uglies,Twilight series.

On a personal note my middle son NEVER read for pleasure, as a 30 year old he only reads Sports Illustrated and the sports page. He graduated from both high school and college with 4.0+ and is a chemical engineer. My point? Some kids are not wired for pleasure reading. That doesn't mean they shouldn't read but it is important to remember that some kids just aren't readers.
Check out Donna Alvermann or Penny Oldfather's work. Both, I are at the Unviersity of Georgia. Also, a recent modification was made to Gambrill's Motivation to Read Profile. Gambrill's MRP was aimed at an elementary audience. There is a new version in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, I think 2007, that has a MRP for adolescents.

Jennifer
Teaching the students about having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset usually helps most for motivation (ala Carol Dweck - if you don't have her book, Mindset, you must read it as an educator :-) ) The idea is to teach them that Good Readers are MADE, not born and that it takes hard work to read (this is actually true of a Good Anything!). Then teach them about the 6 active reading traits and have them practice them. Think alouds from the teacher are especially helpful so they can hear what goes on in a good reader's head as s/he reads. (predicting, connecting, summarizing, clarifying, questioning and self-monitoring). Finally, it is imperative that they have high-interest, read-able texts. I always use my librarian to find books kids love to read and that they can read independantly. Also, many publishers have lists that help (High point is one of them).

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