The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is disrupting lives across the world. In the US, with over 124,000 schools closed, more than 55 million students have been impacted. To keep up with educating our youth, many schools have transitioned to distance learning platforms, and are encouraging their students to continue their learning online.
However, distance learning comes with its own set of challenges, not least of which is keeping students motivated, something that can be a challenge for educators. Even when students are in the classroom, getting them to engage in lessons and participate in activities can be difficult. In a virtual learning world, this can be even tougher. Now more than ever, students need encouragement to be successful in their new learning environments at home.
Our Read to Lead Million Words Read Challenge can be an effective tool to keep students motivated to continue learning from home.
Read to Lead’s Million Words Read Challenge
Registering for a free account with Read to Lead automatically enrolls your class into the Million Words Read Challenge. The challenge is simple: as a class, students have to collectively read at least one million words to win a free celebration and student prizes.
Each game completed on this virtual learning platform counts for 5,000 words read. As students progress through the different episodes, they are awarded badges individually and as a class for reaching certain milestones and achieving certain targets. They also stand a chance to be recognized at the national level for being top readers.
So, how does the Million Words Read Challenge serve to motivate students?
Encourage Friendly Competition
As a motivational tool, the Million Words Read Challenge encourages friendly competition among students and spurs them to strive for excellence. Students can track their progress against that of their classmates on the leaderboard, inspiring them to push for success.
Educators such as Ms. Deja Flynn of St. Simon Stock School and Ms. Holly Crider of Graham Middle School have reported that participating in the Million Words Challenge has improved student motivation in their classes, as even inattentive and disinterested students get into the spirit of friendly competition.
At a time when social distancing has become commonplace and students are spending their days at home, the social aspect of school is still important. Indeed, maintaining a sense of community and connection with others is a critical part of reducing the negative impacts of social distancing on mental health. Thankfully, social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation, and the Million Words Read Challenge can provide students with the chance to build community with their classmates.
Even though students are not physically together, the Million Words Read Challenge offers them the opportunity to see how they can work together to accomplish something big – like reading one million words.
Students can track their individual and collective successes through the statistics and badges on the platform. This gives them a sense that they are part of a larger effort, and reminds them that they are not alone. This also serves as a strong motivational element to encourage students to keep reading and learning.
Create Moments of Celebration
Amidst the changes in their learning environment, we must not forget that students need to be celebrated for their efforts and achievements. Sending students virtual reminders of the Million Words Read challenge and their class standing can inspire them to pick up where they left off to reach new milestones and targets. In addition, we can ask students to share their badges with their families, so they can receive praise and recognition from the people around them at this time.
Share Words of Encouragement
As students reach their target of one million words read, Classroom Inc. will share words of encouragement to keep motivating them and pushing them to attain greater heights.
Our Words of Encouragement campaign collects “donations” of words of encouragement for middle school students. These messages are sent to Read to Lead students across the US to keep them engaged, improve their confidence, and empower them to take ownership of their learning. Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple words of encouragement to keep students motivated!
In this world of virtual learning that we have moved into, we need to find new avenues to encourage, motivate and inspire our students to keep reading and leading. By looking at new and innovative means of reaching our students virtually, we can ensure that we support them through these challenging times.