Click play below to hear tips on how to be engaged in reading until the end of the year:
If you’re anything like me, you have a countdown to the end of the school year. And while the end is in sight, it’s also far enough away that it can be a challenge keeping your students engaged in reading. Luckily, there are ways to make the end of year purposeful, yet fun for all students. In the second episode of our engagement series, I’m sharing 7 tips for keeping students engaged in reading until the last day of school.
With each of my 7 tips, they are practical and easy, but include a structure and purpose so your classroom isn’t complete chaos. Instead, your room will be full of students who are engaged in reading. My 7 tips range from student choice, games, competitions and using previous read books to reflect on the school year. I even share a bonus tip that targets what most teachers wish for all year long.
Once testing is done and the bulk of teaching content is finished, students tend to disengage from school. However, by implementing my tips, your students will be engaged in reading and writing in authentic but fun ways!
In this episode on being engaged in reading, I share:
- 7 practical ways to keep students reading until the end of school year
- Why student choice can help with engagement
- Ways your extra time can be used to engage in fun activities you wanted to do all year long
- How the end of the year can be fun, but have purpose and structure
- Sign up for my Private Podcast: Confident Writer Systems Series
- Join the waitlist for the Stellar Literacy Collective Membership
- Grab my Greek and Latin Root Word BINGO Game
- If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts!
Related episodes and blog posts:
- Episode 132, Two Simple Ways to Boost Engagement During Whole Group Lessons
- Episode 78, Literacy Routines for an Engaging End of the Year
- Episode 9, Getting Started with Author Studies
- Boost Reading Engagement with Book Talks
- Hosting an Author Study in the Classroom
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- Instagram: @thestellarteachercompany
More About Stellar Teacher Podcast:
Welcome to the Stellar Teacher Podcast! We believe teaching literacy is a skill. It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort to be good at it. This podcast will show you how to level up your literacy instruction and make a massive impact with your students, all while having a little fun!
Your host, Sara Marye, is a literacy specialist passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world pass on their love of reading to their students. She has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Sara has made it her mission to create high quality no-fluff resources and lesson ideas that are both meaningful and engaging for young readers.
Each week, Sara and her guests will share their knowledge, tips, and tricks so that you can feel confident in your ability to transform your students into life-long readers.
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Hello, friends, happy Monday. Very important question to ask you. How many days of school do you have left? I know for a lot of you, you are probably starting your final month of school, which means we have just a few weeks. And some of you who go until June I’m sorry, you have my deepest sympathies. I will still be here cheering you on even into the middle of June.
But if you haven’t started your countdown, maybe now’s the time, I always was one of those teachers who was counting down everything, whether it was counting down until fall break or Christmas break or spring break or the end of the year. And not because I was so desperate for the breaks, although sometimes I was I just love having visual markers of time.
And I love having you know sort of something to look forward to and being excited about. And it was always fun for students whether we did like a paper chain or tallies that we would erase, something that we would use just to help signify the passing of time. So if you haven’t started your countdown yet, maybe you should. And I would love to know how many days you have left so that way I can celebrate you, when you finally come to the end of this very crazy school year. You guys have done so great this year and have worked so hard, and it is definitely going to be worth celebrating.
But today, on this episode, I wanted to spend another week talking about some very practical, easy ways that you can keep your students engaged in reading up until the very last day of school. Seven things I’m going to share today. Keep in mind, all of these things I share are things that you can do throughout the entire year. And they’re not necessarily specific to the end of the school year. But they work well at the end of the school year.
One of the things that you can incorporate starting now until the end of the year are reading challenges. And I love reading challenges. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit competitive, but they can really help focus and give reason for students reading, they usually instantly boost students engagement. And it really is just a great way to keep kids motivated and excited to read after testings done and after grades are turned in.
So if you’ve never done a reading challenge is really simple. It is simply giving your students a challenge that is related to reading. And you could do this for you could challenge them to read a certain number of minutes in a week, you could challenge them to read a certain number of books in a week, you could challenge them to read a certain number of genres, you could challenge them to read from, you know, five books from their favorite author.
Other fun challenges are you could do an ABC challenge where they have to come up with either a book title, or an author’s name for every letter of the alphabet. And then you could use that even to count down the last 26 days of the year.
There really is no right or wrong way to do a reading challenge. You could have them be a day long challenge, a week long challenge, a month long challenge, you could switch them up, you could even let your students come up with the challenge tasks.
I have this freebie that I sent out to teachers when kids were starting to read from home. And it was basically just a bingo board that had you know, maybe 20 different ideas on places that kids can read at home read outside, you know, read with a flashlight, you know, under your blankets read to a stuffed animal, read to a sibling, just different things to have kids enjoy reading. And I’ll link to that freebie as well in case you want to grab that.
Reading challenges can just be a fun way to like I said make reading enjoyable for the last couple of weeks of the school year, really easy to implement. And students have fun with them. You could offer little prizes or bonuses, you could do individual rewards, you could do a class reward, you could also make these all class goals that you want your students to read a certain number of books before the end of the year. And you could have a big class tracker.
So so many different ways to do it. But if you’re looking for a really easy way to boost engagement, incorporate a reading challenge or two between now and the end of the year. I personally like anytime that they’re connected to genres or authors because it goes a little bit beyond just reading, you know, minutes or books.
Another thing that you could do is incorporate end of year book talks. Now y’all have heard me talk about book talks before I love them, because it gets students to read, write and talk. All of those things go well together.
But you could have an extra special end of your book talk that your students prepare. You could have your students pick their favorite book that they have read all year long. It could be a book that they read independently, a book from a small group lesson, a book from a read aloud, and you can have them prepare a book talk.
They can write a summary of that book. They could create an artifact, they could design a new book cover, they could write a sequel, tthey could come up with some sort of mystery clues for it, and you can give your students extra time to prepare, because we all know that part of the goal with the end of the year is keeping students engaged for longer periods of time.
But you want to give your students a deadline, maybe you say, all book talks need to be ready by such and such date with maybe like a week or two to go before the end of the year. And then every day for the last, you know, two weeks, 25 days, whatever it is, you can draw a student’s name, and that student can give a book talk so that way, every day you’re doing one or two book talks, all of your students are ready.
But this can be really fun, especially if students keep their book titles a secret, because then it’s fun for students to try to guess and see which books are students going to be talking about, is there any overlap, there’s some sort of suspense involved, which just makes them a whole lot more fun.
If you’ve regularly incorporated book talks throughout the year, consider giving your students the challenge of coming up with a very special end of your book talk that you then can have your students give during the last couple of weeks of the school year.
Another thing that you can do to keep students engaged at the end of the year is let them play games, kids love to play games. And they can be simple, you could get some bingo games, you could find a Jeopardy game, you can even let your students come up with their own game.
I love giving my students games, when they’re actually involved in creating the questions, it’s more engagement and more fun for them. Plus, it kind of takes more time. So you can easily come up with a Jeopardy game that has to do with the genres that you’ve read this year. So each category can be a different genre.
And then tell your students, they need to come up with the questions that help hint to add or give attributes of the genre. Or it could even be book titles that you’ve read, you could think of all the chapter books that you’ve read this year, and each chapter book is a different title. And students have to come up with the different point values of the questions and then students have to answer them. So they can just be a lot of fun, even if you involve the students in playing the game.
So whether you find a reading game that you purchase, either on Teachers Pay Teachers or at Lake Shore, or you have your students come up with a games, students love playing games, and it can just be the end of the year is a great time to make them fun. Give them that permission. And honestly, even if they’re not reading related, let them play games. This is like the time of year that they look most forward to.
Another thing that you could have students do, let them take some inspired action. The idea is, is that we want our students to read a text, have an idea and then take some sort of action.
So maybe your students do a kindness challenge for the last two or three weeks of school. Maybe they write letters to their favorite authors that they’ve read throughout the year. Or maybe they think back to some of their favorite books that they’ve read and they create artwork that is in the same style as the illustrator for the school library.
You can use this end of the year for your students to really engage in some meaningful action as a result of their reading. And it doesn’t have to be reading that has happened, you know, in the last week or two it can be reading from this entire year. So let your students actually practice taking action.
Another thing that you could do this is my fifth tip is you can do either a genre study or an author study and the last month of the school year is really a great time to do a specific study. Like I said, either a genre study or an author study, testing is done. Usually your grades are turned in, which means you’ve got plenty of time to read just for fun.
And you can plan on doing actually a couple of these, if this is something that works with you and your students. Both an author study and a genre study are really easy to do, maybe they sound more challenging than they really are. All it is, is you find a handful of books that are either from the same author, or the same genre, and you read them to your students.
And then you analyze them and you compare and contrast and you evaluate and you create projects that are inspired by them. And you do more research on either the author or that genre. And really, it’s just an opportunity that is slightly structured, that gives your students a chance to have fun exploring books by the same author, or in the same genre. And if you’ve never done an author study before, go check out episode number nine, where I talk all about it.
Another thing that you could do is you could host a book tournament, you could have a book tournament for the last couple weeks of school, even the last week of school. And this could be a genre tournament where you have a bracket and you pair up different genres. You put biographies against poetry and science fiction against historical fiction and tall tales against fairy tales. And you read those books and then you let your class vote, which ones are better, you know, until you get down to what the best genre is.
Or it could even just be picture books, you could have your students do a tournament from all the past picture books that you read this year. And it’s a great chance to reread them and then have your students rank them, they can vote on which ones their favorites are. So just again, a book tournament is a really easy thing to do.
There’s no necessarily right or wrong way. It’s just a structure or a framework that gives you an excuse to either reread or read more books to your students. But there’s a purpose behind it. You know, anytime if there’s a tournament, you’re trying to get to the winner figure out what the best book is, and so this can just be a fun way to give reading a little bit more purpose and structure at the end of the year.
And then my seventh suggestion is in how to keep students more engaged is to let them participate in self selected book clubs. Here’s the thing y’all self selected, okay? Even if you haven’t launched book clubs this year, you can still have your students participate in book clubs. And if they’re self selected, both from the people that they’re in the book club with, to the books that they’re going to read, your students are going to have so much more fun.
And it’s the last couple of weeks of school. And so choice is key here, the more times your students can choose who they’re working with, what they’re participating in, you’re going to eliminate behavior issues, you’re going to have them more engaged. And even if they pick books that are either above or below their reading level, that’s okay. It’s the end of the year, they’ve spent all year working hard, they can have a choice in what it is that they want to read.
And remember, again, it’s a book club, you want it to be structured, so you’re going to give your students some guidelines, maybe here’s the time that you’re going to do the book clubs, maybe you give them questions to ask, maybe there’s either homework, whether it’s create a graphic organizer or some sort of response activity.
But it’s okay, if it’s not the most productive activity that they’re involved in, it’s okay if their book clubs aren’t perfect, or if not everybody has their homework done. Because again, it’s the end of the year. This is the time of year where things are supposed to be a little bit more relaxed and a little bit more fun.
The thing about all of these activities that I listed, and let me just recap, reading challenges, end of your book talks, playing games, taking some action, doing a genre study or an author study, hosting a book tournament, and having students do book clubs.
The thing about all of these is that each one, students are engaged in reading and writing in very authentic but fun ways. There is structure, and there is purpose in them. So that way, your classroom doesn’t become super hectic and chaotic the last week or two, but they’re also fun and exciting. And they can be a little bit more loose and it’s okay if not everything is perfect.
And I know that the closer we get to the end of the year, the more time you need to carve out of your day for things like cleaning, packing, destroying your beautifully created bulletin boards, organizing your files for next year, y’all I remember how crazy the end of year can be the to do list of a teacher is so long.
And so keep in mind that while your students are doing book clubs, while they’re preparing their artifacts for book talks, while they’re playing games with their classmates, while they are reading for a reading challenge, you can be cleaning your closet, you can be organizing your files. Your students are still falling in love with reading, and you are crossing things off your to do list, which sounds like a win win to me.
Okay, I do have one more final bonus tip for you. Any guesses on what it might be? Read aloud for fun every day, multiple times a day. I think the number one thing that I hear from teachers is that they wish they had more time to read aloud. They always say oh my gosh, I would love to read more picture books, but I don’t have time. I would love to read this chapter book but I don’t have time. We didn’t get to our read aloud today because we don’t have time.
Guess what you guys, at the end of the year, you have extra time. So use it for the thing that you love the most and more than likely that’s probably reading aloud for fun to your students. No agenda, no objective. Let your students pick the books. Make a stack on your table every day and tell your students any books that you want me to read aloud, put here.
Reread your favorite books, use voices, let your students lay on the carpet, let them bring in pillows or stuffed animals or whatever it is just have fun, let them enjoy the experience of reading aloud. So obviously that one you have to be a little more engaged in if you’re reading it aloud to your students. You don’t necessarily have time to organize your files. But I promise you’re not going to regret spending a few extra minutes reading aloud to your students every single day.
Step away from the cleaning and the organizing and the grading just for a little bit so you can read and enjoy stories with your students just a few final times.
I know this was a pretty quick episode, but I hope that some of these ideas will help you get through the last few weeks up until the end of the school year and just know that I am here cheering you on. I am so proud of how hard teachers have shown up for their students this year and the end of the year is definitely going to be something worth celebrating.
Hope you guys have a wonderful week and I will talk to you next Monday.
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