Students who are motivated are often easier to teach, and learn better. However, keeping them inspired to engage with their education can be a challenge, particularly in the second semester and the final stretch of the school year.

Here are four proven ways to ensure your students stay motivated and engaged in the crucial second half of the year and finish on a strong note.

Visual Goals & Progress Boards

At the middle school level, students often aren’t good at visualizing abstract goals. Help your students keep track of their goals and see the progress they are making by creating a visual goal and progress board. Just as with a physical destination, when students can see where they are “going”, they become more motivated to work toward attaining their goal.

A visual goal and progress board can be as simple as post-its on a wall marked with certain milestones, or a more elaborate display of where students are in their journey to achieving their goals. There are lots of ways to put this into practice in the classroom, but the critical thing is to ensure students can clearly see their goals to provide them with some added motivation.

Tech Tools & Gamification

Which middle school student doesn’t love technology, games or apps? Introducing tech tools and games into your classroom can be an excellent way of capturing student interest and motivating them.

Whether it’s using Read to Lead to help students improve literacy, leadership and decision making skills, or apps to increase student engagement and better manage your classroom, technology can be an effective tool in the classroom to motivate students.

Build a Classroom Community

We often see our students as individual learners, but creating a classroom community can be a powerful motivating force. When students see themselves as part of a learning community, they become more motivated to participate, engage and contribute.

Encouraging students to work together to achieve shared goals, or implementing the jigsaw method can be effective in building community among your learners. The Read to Lead Million Words Read Challenge also helps develop a community spirit among students as they collectively strive to read one million words on the platform.

Educators who participated in the 2019 challenge also reported higher levels of motivation among their students, as students pushed each other to read more words and hit the targets of the challenge.

Praise & Recognition

A tried and tested strategy for keeping students motivated is through praise and recognition of their efforts and achievements, yet students and their parents alike do not feel that educators are doing enough on this front.

Recognizing students’ efforts and celebrating their achievements can be something as simple as saying “good job!”, or a small note sent home to the students’ parents, but can have significant impacts on motivation. A class celebration at the end of the semester as a reward for students’ hard work and success could also serve as added motivation, giving students something to look forward to throughout the semester.


On the Read to Lead platform, students earn badges as they progress through the game and reach different milestones, helping motivate them to keep reading and building up their skills. Additionally, classes that become “Student Millionaires” by hitting their targets in the Million Words Read Challenge are also recognized and celebrated with parties and prizes.


By implementing some of these strategies in our classrooms, we can encourage our students to participate, engage and learn more effectively in the second semester.

What are some of your strategies for keeping your students motivated? Join the conversation in our Educator Community Facebook Group, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

About Read to Lead

Read to Lead uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!