The long Minnesota winter is finally over! The snow is gone, the air is warmer, the sun is shining (sometimes), and now that daylight savings is here, the days suddenly feel longer. As much as I love spring (and truly I do!), it causes me some dismay, because I know how its arrival can negatively impact the work ethic of some students. 

As soon as the weather improves, Minnesota children can’t seem to get enough time outdoors. Some head outside as soon as they get home from school, and they don’t come inside until the sun is ready to set. Others play on organized sports teams that practice until dark. As a result, many kids come to school exhausted! In addition, as soon as the state tests are finished in the spring, teachers and students heave a sigh of relief—and tend to work with less intensity. But there are still many weeks left in the school year for students to improve their reading!

I work hard to prevent spring fever from taking hold in my class. So last week, I surprised my students with a follow-up private scorecard—to reward their hard work and to prevent their productivity from slipping.

You may remember that in a previous blog post, I talked about how I tried to improve the work ethic of the students by giving them each a private scorecard. On the scorecard, I had written how many stories each student had read since the beginning of the year. After giving the students their cards, I asked them to compare the number of stories they had completed to the highest and lowest number of stories completed by the others in the class. This opportunity to self-analyze their work effort greatly motivated the students. As a result, we have had some extremely productive weeks in class!

To prepare the students’ follow-up scorecards, I ran the Students-at-a Glance report for the time period beginning with the date of the first scorecard and ending with the current date. As before, I prepared a scorecard for each student and then noted the highest and lowest number of stories completed by the students in the lab during this timeframe. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the students were completing at least two stories every three class periods. Furthermore, there was far less discrepancy between the students who had completed the most stories and the students who had completed the fewest. I was surprised by how small the range was. Wow! This was very good news. Everyone was working hard!

So, when I gathered the students around me, I smiled broadly and announced that I was very proud of how hard they were working. Then I held up the scorecards and told them I had proof of their efforts. After informing them of the highest and lowest number of stories read by students in the class, I handed them their cards. One by one, their faces lit up—and then they hastily headed back to their seats to work on more stories!

It seems I have diverted the negative effects of the arrival of spring for at least the near future. And that makes it much easier to stop and appreciate the many joys of this lovely season.