Teaching Strategies that Work...Motivating Struggling Readers

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I was so excited that Celeste at The Education Highway sent out the invitation to link up and share our favorite teaching strategies as we roll out our Tsu pages.  I had a number of ideas buzzing in my head. Should I talk about Close Reading, Interactive Notebooks, Anchor Charts, or Reader's Theatre?? Well, I opted to focus on the topic of ...
We are all motivated either internally or externally.  You want to eat that chocolate because it tastes yummy, satisfies your sweet tooth, and is sitting right there on the plate all by itself just calling you, BUT, are you motivated to give it away or pass it up??  Like eating chocolate, we need to find what motivates our students with reading, homework, or other educational tasks we require. In my room, the focus is reading, so here are the top 10 ways I motivate my readers.
Many school divisions are providing workshops on increasing rigor, unpacking the standards, and on matching the Bloom's level to the standard. Although this knowledge is important for teachers, I believe student motivation is of equal value if not more important.

Motivation, especially for children who struggle or who lack support with their work at home, can provide the student with the drive and stamina needed to stick with difficult work until it's understood. Student motivation shows in higher levels of achievement, but it is also linked to other aspects of student success and happiness with school and a positive self-esteem. Students need to feel that they are capable of accomplishing what is being required of them. We have all seen students lose motivation when a book is too hard or when they are not prepared well for work. If we are unable to motivate our students, they get too discouraged to stick with their books or have no interest in taking the time. Perhaps the ideas that follow will help keep your readers on the right track. 

From Zeek's Zoo
Help your students make the best match.  At our school, books are color coded by level to make selection easier.  Teachers provide students with the level that works best for them.  This isn't necessarily a novel idea, but it is critical to reading achievement. Too many children try to push up in level before they are ready only to abandon the book before they finish.

From Ginger Snaps
Learn what your students are interested in and be ready to share books that tie into those interests.  Interest surveys are a great way to learn about your kids.  Once you know interests, you might check out websites like Good Reads.

Track your students reading time or number of books.  I just found the website, Learn2Earn, and I set up my class to use it.  It is a free site that students can use to record their reading time, review books and interact about them with their peers, and work as a group for class incentives.  I love the interaction piece to the program, and I think it will lead to the students gaining momentum from each other.  There's nothing better than kids recommending books to other kids.

Where Wild Readers RoamAnother way to build class motivation for reading is to use what is meaningful to the kids.  Kid LOVE technology, so using Edmodo, blogging, IPads, and Kindles are all ways to talk about and get books in kids' hands.  I recently started blogging with the fourth and fifth grade students at my school.  We haven't posted much, but the enthusiasm for it is just wonderful.  The children are writing up posts on their own at home about the books they've read, special school events, and things that mean a lot to them.  I know the book reviews will build up over time, and I hope to eventually have our students commenting to give feedback about the book choices and reviews.

Reward PunchcardsUse personal incentive charts or punch cards to help your students keep track of the number of books they've read.  Kids like to see how they are progressing.  That's why timed repeated reading charts work well.  Kids can see visually how their Words Per Minute are rising with each reading. Incentive charts show visually too the growth in reading numbers or minutes (whichever you choose). This reward punchcard set can be used right now, but others are available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just search the word, punchcard, to see what you can find.

Sometimes, it's difficult for students who struggle to access books that really interest them.  If that is the case, we can help them by reading great books to them.  Finding high interest books by the best authors provides students with the opportunity hear great stories AND fluency.  For suggested read alouds, you might look on Good Reads or Amazon to see what is selling.  For the upper grades, I'd recommend [these].
For the lower grades, you might try [these]

When you give time for kids to read, let them get comfortable. Encourage partner reading and talking about what they're reading. You might start a Friday share time where students give a quick talk about their latest books, whether they'd recommend them and why. Here's a picture of my set up, and I will say...they LOVE the beanbags.  I just wish I had my groups longer and could give them more time to just read.

For many of my kids, books in a series work best.  They get familiar with the characters and confident with the level.  Here are a few of the most popular ones in my room currently, and I am so lucky in that the librarian in my school will order books by request from the students. (if money is available of course)  One of my little guys ran right through the Captain Awesome books she had, so she ordered him several more.  How awesome is that??


One way for kids to get time to read at home is to get family members on board.  Encourage families to select books they can read together.  If it's difficult to carve out that time, using audio books works well too.  Students can listen and read along while getting ready for bed.  

Finally, celebrate reading with fun project to display showcasing the books (and your students work). Last year, we held our first Book Fair, and I don't mean time for selling books.  We had our students use trifold displays to create a book advertisement.  Students decorated the boards and we displayed them for parents, community members, and other students to see in our hallways.  Lapbooks, cereal box projects, visual models and such are all fun ways for students to get creative and share their book impressions. There are so many book project ideas out there.  Just google to see what ideas appeal to you.  Kids love making them and showing them off.

Well, I hope you feel motivated to motivate your readers, and if I left out something that has worked for you, please comment and share with me.  Before you go, join in on our hop giveaway.  We are glad you are hopping through and hope you come back soon.


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