Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spark Student Motivation -- Word Count Wizards

I'm linking up today with the very fun (and funny!) Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her linky, Spark Student Motivation.
I think we can all use a little motivation this time of year -- especially our students!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that our school uses the Accelerated Reader system to monitor independent reading.  I think AR is a good way to keep track of student reading and to make sure students are understanding what they read.  If their TOPS report (the score of their AR quiz) comes back with low scores for comprehension, it's definitely time to get together with that student for some extra conferencing.

The AR system is set up for students to earn a certain number of "points" in a given time period.  (Each book is assigned a point level and when students take a quiz on a book, they earn a proportional number of points based on their score.)  This is one of the things that I do not like about AR.  When students read, they get fixated on earning "points."  Points do not make someone a better reader...To become a better reader, you need to read a lot, so I feel tracking Word Count Totals is a better way to go.

Each week, I publish a "Word Count Wizards" list that shares the top five readers in our classroom based on their Word Count total as measured by AR.  Seeing their name on the list (or wanting their name on the list) is incredibly motivating!  

Then every month, the 4th grade teachers host a pizza lunch for the top two Word Count Wizards in our classrooms.  We gather together to eat pizza, chips and cookies. (Unhealthy, I know, but also motivating for some students who want to enjoy junk food at school).

This past Thursday, we hosted our pizza lunch for November's winners.  Both of the students from my class read over 200,000 words each in November.  (Impressive, since many students' word count goal is about 150,000 words for the quarter!)

Word Count Wizards is a great way to get students reading MORE!  They love seeing those numbers go up, especially toward the end of the quarter when their numbers can get pretty high.  I don't doubt that by the end of this year, many of my students will have read over a million words!  WOW!!!

I'm headed over to Joanne's blog to see what other inspirations await!  Meet me there!!

(But before you go, don't forget to come back Sunday to link up and share a Peek at My Week -- my weekly linky party where you can share the highlights of your upcoming week.  There's plenty of motivation here as well!  :)
Have a great Saturday!


  1. This is a really cute idea! I use Reading Counts points...but it does give me a word count as well. Do you find it is the same kids always getting the pizza lunch? Just curious.

  2. Our Read 180 teachers use this and the kids LOVE IT!!! They posts the counts outside and the students are so proud of their accomplishments. These are struggling readers, so it is even better motivation for them!

    thanks for sharing!
    Hodges Herald

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  5. I give up!! I can't seem to post correctly today!! LOL!
    One more time...

    Hi Jennifer! I'm always interested in how other schools handle AR points/word count. I'll bet those kids of yours love that monthly pizza party---super motivating!! I blogged about how our school handles AR rewards, so if you're interested, mosey on over to my blog.

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  6. We have started paying attention to the word count in AR in my classroom too! I can't wait to see what some of them can do by the end of the year. I love the idea of posting a "Word Counts Wizards" each week. Thanks!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  7. Brokaw is only 2 minutes from my house...I was figuring you might be from around my husband's hometown...He is from South Milwaukee. Small world. When you come up this way again we should hook up and share some ideas. Love your blog.

    Renee at the Science School Yard

  8. Love the idea of using the name "Word Counts Wizards". We use the word count for kids that make read one million words and then they make it into the Millionaire's Club. The students have all year to make it into the Millionaire's Club. We do a special lunch and the kids get to dress up as millionaires. They also get their picture taken for a Wall of Fame. Thanks for sharing!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  9. Our school uses Reading Counts, but this is the first year I've really paid attention to the word count-I LOVE your idea of Word Counts Wizards! I told my students I'd love to see them read a million words this year, but I think the monthly goal would be more motivating! Thanks so much for sharing and linking up friend!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  10. What a great idea! I too hate that the kids get so focused on the points! Word count is a much better idea!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  11. Ok- so I've been against AR, yet there's a word count tally in it???? I LOVE this idea!! Wondering if there's another way to find out the word count in books?? Need to search for that because I'm loving this idea!



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