In an effort to meet the wide-ranging capacities and even wider-ranging levels of student motivation in ELA classrooms, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are tasked with examining current instructional practices through the lenses of efficacy and engagement. Disengagement, worsened by an over-reliance on prescriptive structures like the five-paragraph essay, hampers students' growth and independence. This essay explores how scaffolding, particularly through student choice, can nurture students' intellective capacity and foster genuine engagement with literacy. By embracing student interests and providing opportunities for authentic analysis, educators can empower students to navigate complex texts and develop nuanced thinking skills essential for success beyond the classroom. Through small shifts in instructional practices, teachers can unlock students' potential and cultivate confident, independent thinkers and writers poised for academic advancement.

Author Biography

Amanda Blevins began teaching high school English in 2013. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English Education, a Master's degree in English from Radford University, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Reading Education from the University of Virginia. She teaches 10-12 grade English at Center One, a high school center in Albemarle County, Virginia that students attend for their interests in Game Design, Cybersecurity, and Media Communications. Mrs. Blevins is deeply committed to uniting students’ interests with her course content.