Conferring with Adolescents to Improve Motivation and Engagement in Independent Reading
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How can middle school teachers use conferring and a regular routine of independent reading to motivate, engage, and build the reading skills of their adolescent students? Motivation plays a critical role in the academic success of adolescent students, yet there is shockingly little research available to guide middle school reading teachers towards instructional methods designed specifically for this unique group of students. This study focused on improving classroom routines and reading conferences to increase students’ reading skills and engagement in voluntary independent reading. Teacher/student conferences and peer conferences provided opportunities to address student engagement, motivation, and skill issues in a differentiated and meaningful way. Study results indicated student off-task behaviors went from 79 in the first data collection to just 13, and student use of reading comprehension strategies during independent reading increased by 22%. The results and findings from this action research project may provide some strategies to middle school teachers who are looking to improve their conferring skills and increase their adolescent students’ engagement in independent reading.