Amanda Flanagan

Boosting Student Engagement in Reading.

The 5th grade team at New Bedford Public Schools in Massachusetts was looking for a new way to engage their students in reading. Then they found the Million Words Read Challenge

Upping the engagement factor for 5th graders isn’t easy… 

Like many elementary teachers, the New Bedford 5th grade team was tasked with motivating their 5th graders to hone their reading and comprehension skills. After trying Freckle, Lexia, and various other reading activities they were still challenged with sparking students interests and motivation. 

Then they found Read to Lead.

The Teaching and Learning Specialist at the school saw the Million Words Read Challenge on Facebook and immediately started brainstorming with the teachers how they could use this challenge to fuel reading engagement with their 5th graders. Amanda Flanagan, 5th grade teacher said, “We felt the fact that it was a challenge, coupled with the game-based scenarios, that this could really work. We also liked that the games help fuel whole-child and social emotional skills development.” 

After just a few days, student engagement reached an all-time high…

After a few days of using Read to Lead, students in Amanda’s class were hooked.  “My 5th graders love Read to Lead so much, that they were asking to play the games during indoor recess.” Not only did their motivation to read improve, but the students started to become curious about various career paths. “Most of my students want to become a YouTube Influencer, and it is because that is all they are exposed to– when using Read to Lead, they were asking questions about what it means to be a Medical Director– questions they wouldn’t have even known to ask if they weren’t playing Read to Lead.” 

5th grade reading challenge

Read to Lead also allowed Amanda to differentiate instruction as needed. Some students used the Text to Speech feature, while others didn’t need it. Text to Speech enables a “read aloud” option that students can use when needed. When active, inside the game, students can opt to have the text read to them. “This is helpful because all my students are at different levels,” Amanda said. 

Read Aloud

“My favorite moment in using Read to Lead is when a student came in on a Monday after the weekend and said “Mrs. Flanagan, I moved us from 25th to 24th on the leaderboard when I finished the last game! They were playing over the weekend because they wanted to reach Millionaire Status!” 

A Million Words Read

While the school year is coming to a close, Amanda’s class is looking forward to celebrating reaching one million words read together. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story with us – we are so inspired by your students! 


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!