When I go to an exercise class on a regular basis, I notice when I’m improving and getting stronger. This intrinsic reward is usually enough to motivate me to continue. However, I must admit, my motivation increases immensely when the teacher of the class recognizes my efforts too. The same is true for our students learning to read. They are inherently motivated by their own successes as they become more fluent. When their teachers acknowledge this success as well, it often gives them an extra push to work even harder. These little boosts can help them improve even more quickly. 

There are many ways you can celebrate your students’ Read Naturally victories. Most require minimal effort on your part but can make a large impact on your students’ confidence. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Nominate a student for the Read Naturally Star of the Month program. The Read Naturally Star of the Month program celebrates students who work hard to improve their reading skills using Read Naturally. Each month, we select a student to feature in our blog and newsletter. The selected student wins a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card, and the school/teacher who nominated the student receives a $200 gift certificate for Read Naturally materials. Student winners feel incredibly proud, and the recognition gives others in their school a chance to celebrate them. Read the stories of past Star Student winners here. You may nominate a Star of the Month any time during the school year. Fill out the entry form here.
     
  • Email parents. Teachers who use Read Naturally Live can email parents directly from the program to highlight a student’s success. If a parent’s email address has been entered as part of the student information, you can email progress letters, certificates, and awards. Teachers who use other Read Naturally programs can also email parents; creating a rough template for these emails can help expedite the process.
     
  • Send a Reading Update. Another way to acknowledge success is to send an informal Reading Update to the regular classroom teacher and/or parent whenever a student passes a story. You might choose to attach a copy of the story to the Reading Update with a comment suggesting that the student read the story to the classroom teacher or parent—a great way to acknowledge the student’s progress. You can download a free, printable Reading Update here.
     
  • Print out a Certificate of Achievement (Encore II). Many teachers like to send home a packet of several Encore II stories each time a student completes them. Print a Certificate of Achievement as a cover letter and include comments about the student's progress. To highlight exactly how much progress a student has made, you can also include the student's graphs.
     
  • Have a meaningful conversation. Each time you observe your students working hard or making progress, take the time to tell them what you’ve noticed. When you emphasize that the student’s success was due to his or her own effort, the student understands that s/he possesses the skills needed to reach higher goals. Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot says the following: “As soon as a student realizes he or she has improved, I ask a most important question (one I've written about already). ‘Who made you a better reader?’ I hope the students point to themselves. If they do, I know that not only did they improve as readers, but they understand that their gains were due to their own efforts.”
     
  • Nominate your school for the Read Naturally School of the Year program. The Read Naturally School of the Year program recognizes schools whose students substantially improve their reading skills using Read Live throughout a school year. Each year we receive many strong applications and select a grand prize winner ($2,000 Read Naturally gift certificate), runners-up ($500 Read Naturally gift certificate), and honorable mentions ($100 Read Naturally gift certificate). Winners of these prizes demonstrate the school’s commitment to using Read Live with fidelity; students' growth in reading proficiency; and positive changes in student attitudes and motivation. Read more about past School of the Year winners here. We will open up the entry form for nominations on February 17th, so now is the time to start documenting the reasons why your school should win.

These are just a few of the many ways you can acknowledge your students’ hard work and motivate them to keep it up. In addition to incorporating these ideas into your routine, please feel free to contact us to share your students’ success stories. We’d love to help you celebrate them in any way we can.