Friday, 26 April 2019

Motivating students through the post-test doldrums

So much energy goes into year-end testing, there’s a natural letdown once it’s over. Students are inclined to put on the breaks in the final weeks of school. Given all of the year-end distractions, it's not surprising that students can lose focus. Particularly for struggling learners, now is the time to ramp up and make strides in reading practice before the summer break.

How do you shift the momentum? Here are a few suggestions from our BrightFish teaching community for engaging students before closing the book on this school year:

1. Set weekly goals: Every Monday, set goals with your class for the week. In BrightFish Reading, this could be time on task, completed story units, growth in comprehension scores or other skill measures. At the end of the week, recognize the top 3 achievers with a special award or recognition.

2. Designate a celebration wall: Post printed certificates for weekly high achievers and new skills mastered by students. Some teachers have created a poster version of the leaderboard in BrightFish Reading so that students can see how they are advancing every day. 

3. Collaborate with the class to create rewards: Once you’ve set the criteria for #1, ask students to come up with the top prize of the week for the remainder of the year (pending teacher approval). In BrightFish classes, students have suggested everything from setting the menu for an upcoming class party to getting recognized in the principal's daily announcements.

4. Build a team dynamic: Team challenges foster a positive group dynamic and can be very motivational for students to pursue new milestones. Challenges can be based on improving their team averages in BrightFish Reading story units, or they could take the form of a group project. For example, ask them to choose one of the nonfiction story topics and create a model or group presentation.

5. Share reflections: Ask students to write a short piece or record a video about their experiences with reading this year. Ask them to discuss what they learned, how they mastered challenges, and where they have improved. Approach it from the perspective of what they would tell other kids just starting out with a new software program or reading unit.

6. Start a book club: Students can review BrightFish stories and select titles from short stories or graphic novel collections that they would like to read as a group. Post the meeting schedule and nominate a weekly leader to set the topics and moderate the discussion.

7. Set up a game day: Designate a day and time for students to play online games in BrightFish Reading using the points they’ve earned. Or extend it out to other online games or board games that are both educational and fun, such as Scrabble and Mastermind.

We'd love to hear your ideas about motivating students to keep reading!