When you walk into a store, you can usually tell right away if the salesperson is working on commission. An incentivized salesperson engages more with customers, speaks more passionately about the product, and works harder to make the sale. In short, he’s better at his job. The reason why is simple: He’s motivated.

Motivated salespeople do their jobs better, just as motivated students learn better. Research shows that motivation is central to learning, and teachers can and should work hard to boost motivation in their classrooms.

Read Naturally programs are highly motivating and therefore highly successful. Even so, some students need an extra boost to remain engaged. Here are some suggested motivators for students from our curriculum experts:Using motivators for students can help them learn better

  • First and foremost, it is important to make sure students understand why they’re doing each step of the strategy. Our detailed teacher’s manuals provide lesson plans that help students understand the purpose of each step. This document summarizes the goal of each step and explains the importance of setting expectations. Students are more interested in the program when they fully understand how the steps work together and why each one is important.
  • It is also important that students know their long-term fluency benchmark goal, so that they have a “final destination” to work toward each day. To graduate from Read Naturally, the student should be able to read unpracticed, grade-level passages at, near, or above the 50th percentile on national norms.
  • Students are motivated by specific feedback about their progress. Taking the time to review a student’s progress on a story as well as his progress over multiple stories will incentivize the student to put forth his best effort. Much of this feedback is shown on the progress monitoring graphs built into the Read Naturally Strategy. Additionally, our educational consultant, Karen Hunter, developed a fun and clever way for students to visually track their progress in a level.
  • Many teachers successfully use incentive systems to raise motivation. For example, you could give a student a raffle ticket for certain tasks like achieving 100% accuracy on the quiz questions, writing a retelling to meet certain criteria, etc. Hold a raffle drawing each week, and award a prize to the winning ticket—ideally the prize would relate to reading in some way (a book, a bonus trip to the library, etc.). As success in the targeted tasks improve, the frequency of the raffle drawings may decrease until the incentive system is no longer needed.
  • An older student may respond well to goals that tie to his grade for the quarter/trimester. For example, set a specific number of stories the student needs to complete to earn an A, B, C, etc. This may motivate the student to work outside of class to be ready to pass a story at the next class session.

We’ve written about motivation and student engagement several times on our blog. These articles contain additional information on this topic:

How do you keep your students motivated? Please share in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. It’s always a joy to hear your ideas, and we’d love to help spread the word about what’s working in your classroom.