Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spark Student Motivation: Read-a-thon

Happy Saturday Friends! Today is officially my first day of Spring Break! I wanted to share something I did with my students to motivate them to READ!
I present to you a..............
I kept my students after school for 4 hours to READ. Yes, it's that READ. EVERY single one of my students attended. :) (I actually had to change the day so three could attend-they were so upset about missing "reading", that I had to change it for them.) I can't tell you what this does for my teacher heart! Even some of my parents commented how excited their child was to attend. I could tell they were a bit surprised that their child wanted to stay after 4 extra hours just to read! LOL!
I wanted to keep the anticipation and excitement up all day so I displayed this sign on my light up frame and created a bulletin board to track their reading progress during the Read-a-thon.
What would a Read-a-thon be without food? We had snacks and drinks at our reading buffet because with all that reading we would definitely work up our appetites!
And, bookworms! My students loved the worms!

They took off their shoes and brought pillows and blankets to get cozy with their books. (I think taking off their shoes was their favorite part!) They read everywhere in our classroom!

After about two hours, I had pizza delivered.
We watched the Gotta Keep Reading video to inspire us to keep reading for two more hours. I love how the entire school collaborated to create this video-it's amazing! A must see!
Well, if music is playing, we HAVE to dance!

After every Reading Counts test they passed, they got to ring the bell! That bell was ringing all afternoon, but it's ok, it was music to my ears!
After they rang the bell, they got a book Post-It for each point they earned to display on the board. This was a great visual for us to be proud of as a class and each individual student. Some students had to make a second row of sticky notes!!
Here are the final results...
There wasn't a contest, but this young lady earned 38 Reading Counts points during the Read-a-thon! Pretty impressive! The goal was for each student to earn 20 Reading Counts points. I was excited and inspired by my students' excitement to read, ring the bell, and post their book notes on the board! They celebrated each others' successes too!
I've done this a few times with other classes and will for sure keep this as an annual event in our classroom!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spark Student Motivation:Transform Your Classroom...Classroom to Courtroom!

One of the most effective ways to HOOK your students is to transform your classroom. In can be as simple as moving desks and covering walls or as elaborate as bringing in furniture, props, and decorating the entire room with a theme. Either way, your students will love it!

Last week I decided to transform my classroom into a courtroom to get them excited about finding evidence in the text. I wanted to make it glaringly obvious when they have a "debate or argument" with someone they use elaboration every day.  They expound on their evidence by explaining and adding in more details in their conversations.  It's important to have a balance of evidence and elaboration in their writing, so my hope was this lesson would transfer that into their writing!

Florida 5th graders have a state writing test to write and opinion or informational essay. Both pieces require the use of using evidence from the texts provided and elaborating on the evidence. I found three different articles about whether students should or should not be allowed to use cell phones in school-I knew this would be a hot topic!  We read all three articles before we "entered the courtroom".

This room transformation was easy, quick, and basically free! I already had my college graduation gown (I normally use this for my multiplication graduation), plastic gavel, black paper, black tablecloths. My only cost was the printing of my jury members, but this could be hand drawn by your students. I thought of this idea on Sunday before I transformed my classroom on Monday, so no time for drawings! I also printed the Florida flag for my backdrop.


1. Cover front of room with black paper.
2. Move table for judge and desk for witness and cover with black tablecloths.
3. Hang jury members on side wall or tape to extra chairs on the side of the classroom.
4. Finishing touches: flag on judge's table with gavel and papers. Hang flag as a backdrop behind the judge.

 As soon as my kids walked in, they were filled with excitement and curiosity. I dressed up with my hair back and clear glasses to look more official. I grabbed the flag off my wall and placed it in a vase with rocks (also in my classroom stash) to hold it in place. I did not have a real base for my gavel, so naturally I used a pad of Post-Its! :) favorite part was calling the court to order! (I may have done it more than once!)

We swore to use text evidence and elaboration on our all time favorite read aloud (Wonder).

I hung my12 jury members on the side wall.

I separated the desks in our classroom in half to represent each side.

Even if they didn't agree with the "side" they were on, there was enough evidence in the text to support either argument.

Each side called "witnesses" to argue their points. It was so amazing to see them all constantly referring back to the text to prove their thinking.

I love room transformations, and this one will be marked as a favorite and brought back, especially with it's ease and low cost. My students really learned from this experience and it made our learning memorable. I knew this would be a great way to review and ease their fears the week of testing.

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!

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