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Step Up Your Game: 12 Tips to Help Your Students Make the Most of the Great Reading Games

Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, Learning Disabilities, Teacher Best Practices, The Great Reading Games

Learning Ally's Great Reading Games Image with text Celebrate Our Readers and the image of a trophy.Each year, innovative teachers sign up their students  for Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games. This annual national event complements any classroom reading activity and supports teachers’ efforts to motivate and reward struggling readers, build stronger reading habits and boost learning confidence.

Here are a dozen awesome tips from teachers.

1. Find Books Students Want to Read

Alyssa Gray, a Special Education Teacher at Robinson Middle School, Fairfax, VA prints a list of book titles for students to rate by watching book trailers on YouTube. She says, “Students love to self-select books and feel part of the learning process.”

2. Teach Students How to Listen and Learn

Audiobooks help struggling readers go from painstakingly decoding words to reading with fluency. Encourage students to listen to human-read audiobooks while following highlighted text to improve their reading comprehension, background knowledge and confidence. Learning Ally’s professional voice actors are skilled at delivering proper intonation and emphasis of words and phrases to strengthen students’ vocabularies, while conveying the full experience of literature, popular fiction and textbooks.

3. Promote a Schoolwide Culture of Readers

Rebecca Phirman, Intervention Specialist for St. Mary School, Alexandria, KY is proud that her school implemented audiobooks to inspire a schoolwide culture of readers. In addition to the Great Reading Games’ Chromebooks and headsets for students, rewards for teachers and recognition for schools, Rebecca has created other fun events and activities, like “Ice Cream Social Day” and “Out of Uniform Day.”

4. Suggest Audiobooks Narrated by Authors

Human-read audiobooks add an element of authenticity to every story. And sometimes that authenticity can be taken to a whole new level, like when students get to hear a book narrated by its author. Delaney Dannenberg and her mother Shelley visited St. Mary School in KY to talk about helping students with dyslexia. She and Delaney wrote the book “I Have Dyslexia: What Does That Mean?” Delaney is the narrator of the audiobook.

5. Leverage the Digital Leaderboard for Motivation and Reinforcement

Teachers tell us the digital leaderboard serves many purposes during the Games:

- A way to keep students motivated and excited to read

- A tracking tool to monitor reading progress in real time

- A confidence builder for students who struggle to read 

- A visual reminder of how students and schools are doing

6. Reach Higher—Go Beyond Leveled Readers

Few books in print will meet a struggling reader at their independent reading level.  Joelle Nappi, Dyslexia Specialist for Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, Wyckoff, NJ encourages teachers to do more for struggling readers than just giving them leveled texts and asking them to read more in the hopes that this will improve outcomes. Ms. Nappi recommends combining targeted structured literacy interventions with textbooks, literature and popular fiction in audiobook form that are on or above students’ decoding levels. 

7. Celebrate Milestones in a Livestream "Meet the Author" Event

Kwame Alexander profile Give students a great reason to keep reading. Let them know your school will celebrate the end of the Games by participating in a Livestream webinar with bestselling author, Dan Gutman, author of the series, My Weird School, which has more than 60 books in this series, and has sold more than twenty-five million copies! Dan's talk, "There's Nothing Weird About Reading" will be a hit with students of all ages! Register today! 

8. Out-of-the-Box Fun!

Students in Penny Moldofsky’s classes at Woodlynde School in Strafford, PA love the fun ways she coaches them to victory, like providing them with unique badges and keychains. We especially like her referee jersey! Woodlynde displays a reading tally board in their lobby to build school spirit and recognize student achievement.

9. Read about Famous People with Dyslexia

Youngsters in Dana Blackaby’s class at the Academy of Nola Dunn elementary school in Burleson,TX like to read about famous people with dyslexia, including artist Chuck Close, actor Henry Winkler and financier Charles Schwab. They also participate in a living museum activity, dressing in costume and presenting book reports to the entire school.  

Instagram photo of The Schneck School classroom. Students reading audiobooks intently.

10. Pack Students’ Bookshelves with Interesting Reading  

Packing students’ digital bookshelves all year long with various authors, genres and diverse literature will ensure that your students are developing their confidence and self-esteem, broadening their interests and increasing their chances of becoming a lifelong reader.  

11. Make Time for Independent Reading

The Schenck School in Atlanta, GA reminds us of the power of reading practice. Just 20 minutes a day can transform a struggling reader into a grade-level achiever.

12. Create a Goal-Tracking Sheet

Holly Sanford of Rockwall ISD, Rockwall, TX reminds us of the importance of setting and tracking goals. Her goal-tracking sheet makes it easy to monitor students’ progress during the Great Reading Games. 

There’s still time to get your students in the Great Reading Games!

Learning Ally sends a BIG THANK YOU to all of the wonderful teachers across the nation who work diligently each day to develop confident, engaged young readers. You inspire our dedication to “literacy for all.”


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