BUILDING MOTIVATION AND AUTHENTIC PURPOSE FOR READING
Why do we read in schools? And how can we teach reading in a way that builds critical thinking, collaboration skills, and prepares students for the 21st century? With an 8th grade humanities team of 56 students, I studied the effects of reading captivating books and engaging in collaborative, self-designed projects. Through interviews, survey data, and student reflections, I discovered the importance of "gateway books" and that student choice in classroom reading structures led to a higher motivation to read. In addition, an explicit focus on critical thinking skills, collaboration and revision helped students to discover their own purposes for reading and to produce meaningful products related to the book's themes. As students designed, critiqued and revised their work together, they developed the higher order thinking skills students need today.