Saturday, October 25, 2014

A couple ways I've motivated my kids this week.

As usual, it's been a busy week! I'm sharing a couple of the things I've done this week to help Spark Student Motivation. Check in with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching to see more! 


Recently, I ended up with one of those weird 20 minute blocks to fill due to special events being planned in the middle of my reading block. I've been noticing that some of my kids' book bins have been a little light on back-up books, and that there have been a lot of kids trying to book shop during Read-to-Self. 

I don't allow them to book shop when they're supposed to be reading, so this is a problem. I decided to take advantage of the time by having an old-fashioned Book Look a la Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer). If you're not familiar with the concept, it's simple! You select a set of books that you think your kids should read for one reason or another, and your kids sit in a circle passing the books to the left after looking at them for about 45 seconds. By the end of the 20 minutes every kiddo has been exposed to 20+ new book options. At the end of the Book Look I give the kids the opportunity to add the books to their bins if they found one or two that interested them. If two people want a book, we Rock, Paper, Scissors for first dibs. At the end of this Book Look 18 books (all classics that are worth reading no matter who you are!) found their way into a book bin...some with waiting lists attached! 


I've talked recently about one of the cool things going on in my math class, but I haven't talked as much about how much it really motivates my kids. 

In the past I've done Monster Math Battles to cover a lot of different math skills in class. This year I looped up with my kiddos, and even though they begged me to do another Monster Math Tournament, I wanted to do something different. Two of the biggest skills we've covered so far are multi-digit multiplication and long division. This is something the kids just need lots of practice with. 
I've never seen my kids more motivated
to practice math skills!
I knew I wanted to make it more than just boring practice, so that's why I took my Monster Math Battle approach to it, with a twist! I made it a battle between Ninjas and Samurais! My kids love it! They literally beg to see who will be "fighting" the next day. They can't WAIT to do the math problems to find out who wins each battle. They're totally clueless that I'm tricking them into doing the math. There are 5 battles in each pack, and both packs are available as a bundle for $4. If you like the idea, check out my Monster Math Battles, which come with a full 31 battle tournament in a bunch of different skills. 

In other exciting news, my wife and I finally got our printed hard copies of our Adoption profile. We used a website called I am super pleased with the results. The pages are thick, glossy, and very well bound. Honestly, they are of a better quality than the school yearbook! Considering this is probably one of the most important documents I've ever designed in my life...I was really nervous. We actually went with a local printer at first, but were very disappointed. Luckily, the local printer told us we didn't have to pay for the ones they made because that prompted me to try out Mixbook. Now...we just wait for the right birthmother to look through one of these! 

In the meantime...grab this up while you can! It'll only be available for a few more weeks! Many of the products are fall themed, so would be great to use in the coming weeks. 


  1. I love the Book Look idea. I have an intervention reading class and that may be a good way to get them interested in some book besides Geronimo Stilton or Magic Tree House. Thanks!

    Good luck on your adoption! I hope it moves swiftly and smoothly!
    Simple Insights

  2. I love reading about your adoption updates! I think you and your wife will be great parents!
    Also, I love the book look idea! Lately, I've been having all my students come to rug, and we all read for 20 minutes - as in silent reading. The kids request to do this. Of course, I get to read, too, so I think it's quite relaxing for all of us. Some day, I'm going to try out the book look - maybe on Halloween?


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