Goals, contests and challenges can be a great way to motivate your students. It’s time to ring out the old and ring in the new by setting clear goals or resolutions for your classroom. In this post I will explore some options when implementing reading challenges or contests. These ideas will help to encourage learning and growing all year long.
Regardless of learning style or ability students can benefit from small doses of goal setting. I have always been fascinated by the learning theories behind “motivation”. Basically, not every student can be motivated in the same way and this is often because not all students learn at the same rate. However, using encouraging words will help students rise to the occasion. As educators, we should notice even small achievements and find out what motivates our students. Most educators, have charts that are used as visuals for the students. However, if you are the slow learner, this may not be a motivator. In the past, I have given individual charts that students use as a bookmark to mark their own progress.
Use various grouping techniques to foster relationships and encourage learning. When forming groups, I would encourage you to read this story with your students. Every student needs to be treated as part of a team. Too often challenges become stale, consider setting a group or a class goal rather than individual goals all year long. It is important to communicate these goals with parents and allow them to be part of the process. I would recommend reading Penny: The Forgotten Coin, aloud to your class then discuss how we each contribute something!
Never make your students feel overwhelmed. By overwhelming your students you could get the opposite outcome. Find engaging materials on individual levels. When students are successful on their level, they become motivated. That’s why it’s so important to make sure they aren’t overwhelmed. I feel sorry for students that hates reading or develop bad habits due to challenges or contests. This is often done because the contest or challenge were too rigid. Be flexible when developing challenges either individually or as a whole class.
By setting up “checkpoints” along the way, students won’t fall under the radar. Challenges and contests are great ways to motivate students if used moderately. If you keep in the mind the goal is to increase comprehension and enjoyment, then you will be off to a great start as you begin using goals, contests, and challenges within your reading program.