Teachers: One of the best ways to motivate your students on Vocabulary.com is to show them evidence of their own success. But how do you define "success"? Set a goal. 

Weekly words mastered. How many words would you like your students to be learning in a week? Between eight and ten is the maximum the traditional copy-the-definition vocabulary instruction method allows. How about your students master 15 words in a week? How about 20? We bet they can.

Class-to-class rivalry. If multiple classes in your school are using Vocabulary.com, why not build a little healthy competition into their learning by offering recognition and a prize to the class learning the most? The beauty here is that you're not fixing the number of words they're learning to make this goal. They are.

Find your school on our leaderboard. The goal is: Climb. Between October and May, schools playing Vocabulary.com in the United States and Canada have the chance to compete in a North American Vocabulary Bowl, and 16,000 of them do. As part of the Bowl, we display a leaderboard of all schools playing, ranked by words mastered, rewarding monthly leaderboard winners, as well as the top three champions overall.   

Even if you're not at the very top of the Vocabulary Bowl, you can use the leaderboard to motivate students to climb. Challenge them to advance five or ten places over the course of a set time, or just to beat out the school above them. By checking their standings on a regular basis (some teachers display the leaderboard on their classroom's SmartBoard when students first come into class) your students will see how every word they master is helping them gain ground. 

Win the leaderboard for your state. Schools competing in the Vocabulary Bowl can also access a leaderboard ranking for just their state, which appears on every school's profile page. This leaderboard displays a school's position even if it's not in the top ten. Because it's more local, chances are your students will recognize the names or at least the locations of other schools on the board. Set a goal of beating one of these more accessible rivals, and then be sure to look for any achievements your school earns while doing so on your school's profile page. 

Win the leaderboard for the day, the afternoon, the hour. Like long distance runners who practice interval training, your students will build their long-term word learning abilities by engaging in a few high intensity vocabulary blasts along the way. How much movement you can get in the leaderboard in one intense push? At Chavez High School in Houston, TX, this question resulted in 400+ students gathering in the cafeteria for a word learning party. At Sugarloaf Elementary and Middle School in Sugarloaf Key, FL a day-long leaderboard assault catapulted the school from the 55 spot on the leaderboard to number one by the end of the day.

Beat the teacher. One teacher challenged her entire class to beat her scores on a weekly basis. Anyone out-playing her received an A for the assignment. Note: Rather than reaching a fixed number, they were shooting for an ever-moving target. The unpredictability kept the competition firey hot. 

Dunk the teacher?! Los Alamitos High School in Los Alamitos, CA offered students who could demonstrate vocabulary mastery the chance to sink teachers in a dunk tank. In the universe of goal setting, this star shone bright.

Rewards, prizes, and visibility. Over and over, we heard from teachers that goal-setting works best when incentives are attached. Remember: T-shirts, pizza parties, free periods, or simply the chance to see your name up in lights through highly visible in-school displays make goals that much more rewarding for students to achieve. Learn more about "Incentives You Can Use to Amp Up Student Word Learning" in our monthly educator newsletter.