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Motivation Matters

Have you ever noticed how much more productive you are when you are motivated and/or interested in what you are doing?

As a way to work towards our school system goals of all students reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade as well as increasing the graduation rate, something needs to be done to motivate students when it comes to literacy… and it needs to be more than just assigning students books to read, summaries to write, tests to take, and book reports to construct.

Sports play a major role in the lives of many of our students. For example, I may not be able to get a student to tell me what he or she read last night but depending on the season, I can find out all kinds of information about football, basketball, or baseball games (local, college, or professional). Student interest and excitement is a motivator that I don’t mind taking advantage of for reaching literacy goals … and sports just might be the way to do it!

Think about your favorite sport.

Where is it played? Who plays it? How is it played? What is the history of that sport? What is the future of the sport? How could it be changed to be better?

I bet you can think of a million other questions like this …

Those are not simple YES or NO questions, so we have to do more to find the answers …

How can we find out the answers to those questions?

We could do some research …

I am not talking about the research in a dark library stack shuffling through dusty books … unless you enjoy that

Think about all the ways we can do research today …

I predict  your mind went immediately to the internet as a source of knowledge, and while that may be a possibility, one must remember that not everything you find on the internet comes from a reliable source …

Which is a great way to bring in some conversations about digital literacy and verifying the information found by analyzing sources …

Sounds like some higher order thinking skills to me …

Research can also be done by writing letter of request after you find out who would be best to contact, how to contact, and what  you should request …

Don’t forget about the books and magazines that can serve as primary and secondary source documents …

Students would have to figure out how to analyze those too …

So let’s say we gather our research and compile what we have learned to construct answers for our initial questions, now that we have all these answers, what are we going to do?

Should we keep this knowledge to ourselves?

Or figure out way to share it ….

Do we write a question and answer sheet to give to one person?

Do we create a blog or website to share what we have learned with a wider audience?

Or can we come up with a totally new way to unveil our findings and share our share our opinions?

I see lots of opportunities for:

  • identifying key details

  • digital literacy

  • exploring explicit and inferred meaning

  • primary source analysis

  • timelines

  • graphic organizers

  • compare and contrast

  • vocabulary building

  • setting goals and priorities

  • data analysis

  • higher order thinking skills

  • speaking and listening

  • questioning

  • communication

  • collaboration

  • critical thinking

  • creative thinking

  • writing various genres

  • writing opinion pieces

  • developing informative and explanatory text pieces

  • creating multimedia projects

  • developing videos/podcasts


“Motivation matters; it it’s real, it motivates brains to engage”  ~Carole Marsh


The idea of a Sports-themed Book club exploring many literacy skills has been bouncing around in my mind since I attended NCCAT this summer. This could be a way to reach and motivate reluctant readers …


photo credit: Sports equipment bucket at school via photopin (license)

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