100,000 Minute Reading Challenge

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I mentioned my challenge to my 4th graders about reading 100,000 minutes outside of school time. You should have seen their face in August 2007 when I challenged them to read that much. They were doubtful. I was not.

To start, I gave them each a reading log. The only rule was that the only minutes that counted were the minutes of the students in my class. I told my students that each Friday I would check their reading logs and keep track by putting them into a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet had all the names of the students in my class in the first column. Each column then had the dates of Fridays going across the top. I had a weekly total at the bottom of each column.

What reading counted? ANY!!! I told them that reading an article online or in the newspaper is reading. Now, you can’t just sit and stare at the newspaper saying that you’re “reading”, but if you actually read the article, you read about 2-3 minutes. I also encouraged having a book by their side when watching their favorite television show and during commercials, pick up your book and read. Again, there’s another 2-3 minutes of reading. If you do that for an hour, you can get about 15-20 minutes of reading!!!

To help encourage students to read, I placed a line graph with string in the hallway outside of our classroom to show the weekly minutes read. I would post the number of minutes read above the nine weeks week number. (After the first 9 weeks I figured that it would be easier to start a new line with the second nine weeks).

  • RANDOM THOUGHT: Now I wish I had taken pictures. Each nine weeks was a different color string. We could go back and compare weeks and why some weeks were better than others. We did this often. It was a great way to look at the math behind out numbers.

We had classroom money. Each time a student reached a 100 minute mark (100, 200, 300, etc.) of reading (some reached it weekly, others needs 2 or 3 weeks) then they received $10. When a student reached 500 minutes, they made a bonus $10. When they reached 1000 minutes they had a bonus of $20. That allowed each student to set their own goals and everyone was rewarded. I also gave $5 to each student who read more in the week than I did that week. It made for some fun challenges to get me to read as well.

To help the class work as a team, I had class goals at each of the 10,000 minute marks. We had popcorn parties, move parties, picnics, all sorts of rewards to keep them reading.

When the end of March came around and we were only at 75,000 minutes, I got a little nervous. I offered a family reading night in my classroom for 2 hours. During this 2 hour period students were welcome to come and read in my room. They could invite anyone they wanted to read and everyone’s minutes would count toward the minutes. I had many come in with their entire family for about 20 minutes, then I had one student who came in with her mom and read the entire 2 hours. The night alone added about 700 minutes to their time.

Shortly after May began, we reached the 100,000 minutes of reading. We celebrated in our room all day. It was a great time of bringing the class together. I then shared with them what I had been planning already.

The last week of school we had a day that we walked to the park for a picnic lunch. Many parents came to join. We played games and just enjoyed the outdoors that day. We then walked to Dairy Queen where each student got an ice cream bar of some kind. After walking back to school, parents again joined us for a ceremony. In this ceremony each student received a certificate stating that our class read 100,000 minutes during the school year. At the bottom of the certificate was how many minutes they as an individual read.

Now, did everyone read the same amount? I had some students who read less than 500 minutes all year long. I would challenge and motivate them throughout the year, some weeks would be great, others were tough. However, I did have 5 students who read more than 10,000 minutes themselves. So, in reward, along with the certificate every student also received a sealed envelope. I told them that they could not open them until they were at home. The reason? The more minutes you read, the more you had in there. I had collected certificates from restaurants and other places in town.

Now, in case you think this is too big of a challenge, here are some numbers to go by.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 12.39.18 PM

Good luck and have fun with reading!


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