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Play Ball! Keeping Students Motivated to Read!

Spring is here, and with summer on the horizon, it becomes harder and harder to keep students engaged in learning!  This is the time of year when I like to do projects and other fun activities to keep students motivated and eager to come to school.

Lately I have noticed that students haven't been doing there nightly reading homework.  I realize that spring is also a time for soccer and baseball, and other after-school activities, making it more difficult for students to find the time for reading.  But, it is still soooo important!

I decided to keep things interesting by creating a spring reading challenge around the theme of baseball!  Here in metro Detroit, we LOVE baseball season and we adore our Tigers!  So, I thought I would use that as our theme.

I found a great TPT product, World Series Challenge by teacher author, Hal Ruden, which made getting started really easy.  I copied all of the materials, making a few tweaks of my own and got started.  My students have been totally geeked about the whole thing and I have seen a surge in reading over the past two weeks.  Parents have even commented on how excited their child is to get their nightly reading done, so that they can earn those points!

Reading Contest: World Series Challenge

Hal did an amazing job putting together the class tally charts (which are adorably shaped like baseballs).  I added the logos from real sports teams to make it even more exciting for the kiddos, but it would be just as fun for students to create their own team names. 

The concept is pretty simple:  Students can earn points by reading for 10 minutes (a single), 20 minutes (a double), 30 minutes (a triple) or 30 minutes + a summary of their reading (a homerun).  They fill out a nightly scorecard and return it the next day.  I do not accept late scorecards, which has the added component of teaching responsibility.  I tally the points for each team each day and add it to the total from the previous day, and display the scores on the team tally charts (which we keep posted on a cupboard door in my classroom).

To give my students more room to write the summary, I tweaked Hal's scorecard by making the sheets larger (4 sheets to a page, instead of 8).  You can download my larger version here:

Students are also given one scorecard over the weekend, and on Monday we do the final tally of points, the winning team is announced.  I created dog tags for the winners.  You can get dog tag chains on Amazon or Oriental Trading.  Each winning teams receive a small prize (a candy bar, treasure box pick, etc.) and receive the championship dog tag to attach to their chains.  If you'd like to use my dog tags, I have attached them here as a freebie (there are six different dog tags to use for six rounds/weeks)!  Simply print, laminate, cut them out and punch the holes.  I used reinforcements (those useful little sticky holes) so that they don't end up ripping off the chains.  They have held up great so far!!  You could even have them laminated at an office supply store, requesting that heavy duty laminate.  

I hope you give this a try; your students will love it!  Check back and I will post some classroom photos of the dog tags, tally sheets, etc.

Have a wonderful week!

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