Decathlon Basics: Keeping the kids working

Hey everyone, and welcome back to another blog post on Xathlon!  For this one I wanted to briefly write about one of the fundamentals many coaches may struggle with- how do you get the kids to read?

There are some very simple answers to this- the most tried and true method of most teams I know is to quiz every day.  Now, that can mean a lot of different things- one quiz at a time, multiple quizzes at a time, or a whole section a day.  This is the simplest way to do it, and it does require a decent amount of prep- namely printing the quizzes (can do them virtually but that seems hard).  You may also want to build out a schedule for them, but you can get away with merely letting them know the day beforehand what they will be reading.  Making it a grade in a class period is also important, since that is one of the most important ways to make sure the kids read.  I tend to go overboard with preparing a schedule so we know our blueprint exactly, but that can be manipulated due to unforeseen circumstances.

Are there other ways to keep them honest?  Simply asking kids to go home and read every night with no recall attempt or back-end to make sure they read makes it tough to do.  You could do writing every day, but that is hard to “score” and a lot of work for a coach.  You could have them come in a present information, but that is an imbalance of learning which leans towards the presenter.  Another thing many teams do is have them read in class…but that’s simply not enough.  If a class is 50 minutes, or even 90, that doesn’t balance out what they would actually need to do.  If you give them an assignment on top of that, but give them no time to prove their knowledge, where is their incentive to study?  I just don’t see it.

To summarize, quizzing seems to be the most effective way to guarantee studying.  I would love to be wrong on this, and if someone has other ways they get their kids to study, leave a comment and let me know!  Have a great weekend 🙂

3 thoughts on “Decathlon Basics: Keeping the kids working

  1. Except when you don’t have decathlon as a class 🙂 We read and discuss aloud during our practices, both with me as a direct lecturer and in small groups such that the kids tutor each other. That one works best when you spend some time modeling what good tutoring looks like. Then I test after every section (short answer tests written by me) and finally a multiple choice test (purchased from Xathlon – shameless plug here, but those are the best tests on the market) when we finish a resource guide.


    1. I can’t imagine doing this without a class, and quizzing would absolutely be out the window in that type of program. The results y’all get with just after school is amazing.


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