As teachers, we all have students who show little interest in reading and writing. What we don’t have is a system to change that. Student motivation can be so tricky! What if I told you that I could get your most reluctant readers and writers motivated? Let me show you my favorite way to encourage them!
Determining Student Motivation
First, we need to determine which students are reluctant readers and writers. This is important because it helps us know exactly which students to target. One of my favorite ways to measure student motivation is using my student inventory surveys. This resource includes surveys that focus on students’ interests and attitudes toward reading and writing. The results of this survey allow me to see which of my students do not enjoy reading. These are the students that I target for my Vault reward system.
The Secret Weapon
When I created The Vault for my classroom, I was inspired by the Disney vault, where the most coveted films are kept safe. These films are only released at specific times, making people more excited when they can access them. I have a similar system for my classroom library. I keep a basket filled with my favorite hardcover picture books in my filing cabinet. Let me give you an idea of what’s stored inside: all Mo Willems books, the I Survived chapter books, and Dog Man are a few essential treasures. These are my highly coveted books that are only released at a special time.
When my students come to our small group lessons, I give them the day’s reading or writing comprehension task (or some other task they don’t want to do). Here’s a blog post where I’ll show you how we use science reading comprehension passages in our small groups.
As they work, I tell my students I am looking for someone to do something specific. For example, I may say, “I am looking for someone using capital letters and punctuation in their sentences. If I see you using these things, you will get a key to check out a book from my vault for the week.”
It’s important to have a specific task for students to complete to earn a key. This task can change depending on what we focus on, but I always choose something that will help my students improve their writing.
Keys To Student Motivation
As students are working, I monitor them. Any students in the group who complete my task receive a key to check out a book from my vault. Students are rewarded with books for the hard work that they have achieved. I make sure my students know that these are Mrs. Barnett’s special books. I don’t just share them with anyone, and only people I trust can borrow my books. This gives my books value and makes my students want to earn them.
Why does this work? It works because students are interested in learning about and connecting with their teachers. My students know that these are Mrs. Barnett’s favorite books, so they want to read them to have a connection with me. It also makes them feel special.
This may sound simple or boring, but I believe that once you have a strong connection with your students, they want to do whatever they can to get to know you better. Once students begin receiving keys to The Vault, their attitude toward reading and writing will start to change and grow.
Want to get your reluctant readers and writers motivated? The Vault freebie gives you the keys to begin your own classroom vault. Paired with my student interest inventories, you can determine which students will best interact with this system, thus growing their love for literacy.
Staying on top of student motivation is such an important part of our jobs as teachers. This was always such a great tool in my classroom, and I hope it can be the same for you and your students! Give it a try, and let me know how it goes in the comments.