Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spark Student Motivation Saturday

Happy Saturday everyone!
I'm linking up with Joanne today for Spark Student Motivation!

One of the ongoing projects that we started in October is our 30 Book Challenge. This is a literacy-based project based off of the amazing (seriously, absolutely amazing) The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Teachers, this is a MUST read for fabulous tips on motivating a passion for reading in your students.
To kick-off this project, we started by completing a Student Interest Survey on the first day. This helped me get a better feel of what students liked and disliked to read, as well as what outside interests might make great topics for reading. (For instance, several students might not like to read, or language arts might be their least favorite subject in school, but if I know that they love a certain sport, I will look for books about that topic to help stimulate their growth as readers.) I used a cute version of the survey, and looked at their responses to create the requirements for each genre.
Each student has their own Reading Response Notebook, where I gave them copies of documents to keep track of their reading, and helpful hints on each genre. In order to assess what my students are reading, I have five minute conferences with them during the week, and require that students write me a letter detailing their response to each book that they have read. 

Okay, okay; I know what you're thinking. Yes, thirty books is a TON for a fourth grader to read. Thirty books is a TON for anyone to read.  I'm reading thirty books alongside my students, and yes, it is a challenge. How do I keep my students motivated? Donalyn Miller says:

Since I started the project, I've added a daily 15 minutes (which turns into twenty or more) of pure reading time to our schedule. Let me tell you, even the students who are not necessarily avid readers, are asking me, "When will we get our 15 minute read today?" They have started to find good books that match their interests, and books that open new worlds for them. That in itself is an accomplishment in my mind.
Still, I have students who tell me that they want to read, but they just can't find the time. Admittedly, I fall into this scenario as well; I'm human and have other things on my to-do list. So I came up with a solution: This week I am presenting a Lunch Bunch Book Club!
I plan to introduce this to my class on Monday. One of my sweet girls is reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and her enthusiasm that she shares with me every morning about the book made me realize that it would make a great book to read and discuss with other students, too! 

Instead of having my students purchase the book, or purchase multiple copies of the book on my own, I've contacted several libraries to borrow the books this week. I plan to do this as a first come first serve sort of group, that way it allows different students to participate for each book based on their level of interest. I'm going to come up with some questions for discussion for the first few meetings, and then I'll open it up for our meetings to be more student-led. I think this will be a wonderful way to motivate my students to read, and to explore other sorts of books. 

What ways do you motivate your students to read in your classroom? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


  1. I love the way you broke down your 30 book challenge by genre. I am going to have to do this. This year during our read aloud time I have been challenging myself to read different genres. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut and not try new things or not read something to my kids because that is not a favorite genre of mine. The kids know this and they keep telling me they are trying new books because I am.

  2. I couldn't agree more with Donalyn Miller's quote! And, you have offered SO MUCH for your students to get excited and motivated about reading! They will surely be successful with all everything you've put in place! I love your Friday Lunch Bunch Book Club and the fact that the books can run out! First come, first serve always gets people excited! (even adults!) Thanks so much for sharing and linking up Stepanie!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. You've convinced me! Just went to Amazon and ordered The One and Only Ivan. That sounds like a book right up my alley {biggest animal lover here!}. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

    1. Yay! It really is fabulous - you'll laugh, and cry, and laugh some more. I'd love to hear what you think of the book!