The Power of "Why?"

I was in the middle of a guided reading lesson today, when I needed to stop. Most of the students were reading silently, practicing drawing conclusions, but too many students were chatting. I was frustrated, and I needed to get the class's attention.

"Everyone needs to be reading. The only way you get to be a better reader, is by practicing. Who here wants to be a better reader?" 28 hands go up. Well, that was nice, but it was little too automatic to be very meaningful. So, I asked another question, "Why do you want to be a better reader?" It seemed like such a simple question. The answers I got were also simple, but meaningful.

"I want to be able to get more knowledge."

"I want to be able to tell people what I learned."

"I want to be ready to read chapter books."

It struck me that for all the time my class spends talking about goals and how to be better readers, we haven't spend much time talking about why we want to be better readers. I've always found that questions that begin with why get some of the best answers, and I loved the answers I got today. I'm convinced this is a conversation my students and I need to have much more often. I believe that all 28 of my students want to be better readers, but I'm not sure all of them understand why. Maybe continuing this conversation will give their reading a greater sense of purpose and focus.


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