Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reward Me

Fellow teachers and other education enthusiasts, do you all subscribe to Education Week? I get their Teacher Update e-mails as well as their daily digest of interesting education news. Yesterday, I had an epiphany while reading about this study.

Students did better on tests and got better grades when they were rewarded before taking the assessment. The students also had to write briefly about what they planned to do with the rewards (older kids got money and younger kids got trophies). The paper posits that students did better because they were mentally holding themselves accountable for the reward they already received.

Even though this study looked primarily at extrinsic motivators for learning, I think I can get some great ideas for classroom management next year week. Those of you who followed along last year remember the work we had to do in first block to get students to act appropriately and foster a learning community. One thing I tried at another teacher's suggestion was a point system. We talked as a class about what specific behaviors would earn them points (taking turns talking, writing for the entire free write time, etc.). When they got to ten points, we had a party.

I hated that system. It felt manipulative. Students would often lose focus as they tried to point out to me that they had earned the point (resulting in the new expectation that points wouldn't be requested). But the system did seem to focus them on thinking about appropriate behavior in the classroom and that was what we needed.

I think a system that rewards first and asks questions later can create that same focus. I really like the idea of giving my students something (a pizza party, a few minutes to just talk, baked goods) and saying this is because I know you are going to do great things in here. That sort of system feels less like a bribe and more like a relationship. Any other ideas on specifics for this way of rewarding students?

1 comment:

Lauren said...

"Funny YouTube video time"? They'd have to be appropriate of course, but they're mostly short and would get people laughing or in a good mood before they take the test.

I know when I was in high school I would have killed for more nap time. Maybe 5 minutes of naptime/quiet time or something? Turn the lights out, students who want to read or study for the upcoming test can, but anyone who wants to put their head down and just sleep for a few minutes could. Of course everyone would have to be quiet, but I feel like high schoolers don't mind quiet as much if they're allowed to sleep during it.

Do you allow them to use their phones during class? Maybe add phone use into the free time/reward time, as long as they go away when it's done.

Just some thoughts!