Linda B. Gambrell
By Lauren Laudan- Distinguished Educator in Reading Project
Meet Linda B. Gambrell
Teachers and schools differ on their incentive philosophy for reading books. For example, some teachers praise students for the number of books read while others reward the amount of minutes read. However, how much good are teachers really doing to inspire our students to read by giving an extrinsic reward, just as a candy bar or toy? According to an article by Gambrell, "Through well intentioned, extrinsic incentives and rewards can actually serve to undermine the desired effect of nurturing intrinsic reading motivation" (Schunk, Pintrich, and Meece 2008). Are all rewards bad then? Gambrell found one teacher who helped to influence her idea of rewarding students for good reading skills. "In this classroom the teacher used primarily intangible extrinsic rewards... For example, after a reading skill group where all children were able to demonstrate mastery, she rewarded the students with 10 extra minutes of free reading time" (Gambrell, "BUT THAT: Using the ARC of Motivation").
In order for teachers to create students who are intrinsically motivated, a classroom culture that supports this development must be put in place. According to Gambrell, there are three essential elements for creating this type of environment. These three elements are referred to as the ARC of motivation:
1. Access- Provide a wide range of reading materials as well as time throughout the day to read and discuss books.
2. Relevance- Reading materials and activities that students engage in need to based on students' interests and desires.
3. Choice- Students need to be allowed choice in what they pick up to read.
However, above all else, as the teacher we need to show our students how much we love to read and how it is a lifelong skill! As Gambrell noted, "One of the key factors in motivating students to read is a teacher who values reading and is enthusiastic about sharing a love of reading with students" (Gambrell, "BUT THAT: Using the ARC of Motivation").
Ideas for Motivating Students
*Choice is widely acknowledged as a method for enhancing motivation. We need to allow our students choice frequently throughout each day so that students feel ownership in which books they're choosing to pick up. This helps to increase their interest in what they're reading as well as their level of commitment and effort.
*Read-aloud and discussion are effective ways to engage in mastery modeling.
According to McGee & Richgels (2003), teacher read alouds can be used to promote deeper understanding and interpretation of text; allow children to take an active role in understanding text; and prompt children to begin using mental activities that will become automatic as they begin reading independently.
*Providing balanced book collections at all grade levels is vital to engagement. This includes lots of nonfiction materials since this was the preference of genre for most kindergarten and first graders.
*Many schools, teachers and parent organizations use rewards in their reading programs. Although incentives for reading are highly debated, some rewards, such as a new book, may encourage more reading to occur with students. We need to be very careful here though when using incentives in our classrooms.
Gambrell, L. B & Marinak, B. (2016). Section 2: WHY NOT? WHAT WORKS? What we know about reading motivation and what it means for instruction. No more reading for junk: Best practices for motivating readers. Heinemann Educational Books.
Gambrell, L. B & Marinak, B, (2009). Reading motivation: what the research says. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-motivation-what-research-says.
Education Week: Teacher (2016). No more reading for junk: an interview with Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell. [photograph]. Retrieved from
2014 Kentucky Reading Association Conference. In their own words: Dr. Linda Gambrell [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEPFkPmuy8w.
Gambrell, L. B & Marinak, B. (2016). Section 3: BUT THAT: Using the ARC of motivation to engage all readers. No more reading for junk: Best practices for motivating readers. Heinemann Educational Books.
Gambrell, L. B & Morrow, M. M (2015). Best practices in early literacy. In best practices in literacy instruction (pp.85-126). New York: The Guilford Press.
Heinemann (2016). Digital image. No More Reading for Junk. Retrieved from http://www.heinemann.com/products/E06157.aspx
Linda B. Gambrell. Digital image. Reading hall of fame. Web.12 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.readinghalloffame.org/Linda_Gambrell%20