National Writing Project

Bridging the Disconnect: A Layered Approach to Jump-Starting Engagement

Publication: Voices from the Middle
Date: June 20, 2012

Summary: Nanci Werner-Burke, director of the Endless Mountain Writing Project (Pennsylvania), along with co-authors and teacher-consultants Jane Spohn, Jessica Spencer, Bobbi Button, and Missie Morral, discuss how teachers can truly engage students in the classroom to "jump-start" learning, which include experimenting with various digital tools and alternate texts.


Excerpt from Article

Do we have to read this? Why do I have to do this? Every teacher has gotten this reaction from middle level students at some time. While we know that student motivation and engagement are essential components of learning, pulling in students who radiate apathy or resistance toward school work is an ongoing challenge. How can we reach those young adolescents who seem to only care about what happens outside of school walls?

As we began our collaborative investigation of how to best address this problem within our own teaching context, four factors immediately rose to the forefront: the use of writing as a tool for engagement and learning, the necessity to prepare our students to compete in an increasingly digitized world, the motivational appeal of the graphic novel genre, and the need to interweave the social aspects of learning with teaching.

Copyright © 2012 National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with Permission.
Werner-Burke, Nanci, et al. 2012. "Bridging the Disconnect: A Layered Approach to Jump-Starting Engagement" Voices from the Middle 19.4 (2012): pp. 45-49

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