- February 27, 2018 at 9:30 PM #45892
Just because I am thinking with pleasure of a recently launched math motivational project and how it is seeming to do what I intended, I wish to share it and then invite others to offer simple ideas of things that have worked well for you. This is a “good harvest with little sowing” kind of idea.
Using a customized approach, I told the students that if they miss no more than “x” number on that day’s math lesson, they will be awarded a “Gone on Vacation” ticket giving them the right to skip two of the next day’s math problems. The ones skipped must be ones they know perfectly well how to do, they are just choosing to not do them that particular day. Of course they would never be used on tests or on newer concepts. One thing I am seeing in the days since we started this is that as they do their corrections, students seem more motivated to make sure they understood why they missed something. The intent is to make the goal attainable such that it encourages diligence and focused attention; too high makes it discouraging and too low does not encourage good study habits.
I constantly gravitate to low-teacher-investment-yet good-gains ideas. What do you have to offer?
- March 8, 2018 at 10:39 PM #46193
I like this idea. With some modification it may help me work on a problem in my classroom. Thanks for sharing.
- March 10, 2018 at 8:30 PM #46324
Carolyn, not sure this fits into the “no work” topic, but I think you wrote once about a pizza making party you have to celebrate a certain milestone for first graders. Each child brings prepared ingredients and then they make their own — ? I couldn’t find it when I went back to look for it.
Which reminds me, last year neatness was an ongoing problem with a number of my students so the final quarter we hammered it hard by working toward earning a pizza party by gaining enough points on neatness. It really helped. Daily each child handed in their “slice” (from a cardboard game) if they thought they had been neat in their work during the day. If the whole grade had been sufficiently neat, then all the slices were handed in making their pizza was complete and giving them a point toward the class goal of x number of points. Each one’s contribution counted and using this visual added its own incentive. Throughout the day they mentally evaluated their own neatness and then either handed in their slice — or didn’t. Of course I could negate any of their evaluations, but I rarely disagreed. I really liked how it put the responsibility on them and, like often, I found them to do well with it. Oh dear, writing this all out makes it sound awfully complicated and not at all “no work”. And yet it really was a good project (they loved it — not just the party) and made a big difference without me nagging. In that way it really was “no work”.
I’m thinking of doing something similar with listening well this year yet (starting this next week I hope). Neatness is not much of an issue this year, but I think listening well has been and students do really enjoy the challenge of working toward something. I don’t want it to be an outward motivation only, and yet it seems like this can be a discipline designed to crack the door inviting personal responsibility. They help evaluate, it is not just the teacher getting after them.
- March 10, 2018 at 9:24 PM #46331
A few of our students really do need that outward, tangible motivation (such as the pizza game) before they will begin to take personal responsibility to do what is expected. It can be difficult to know how to implement these motivational activities in a class of students with variety of needs and skills but sometimes implementing a small motivational activity can go a long way to reducing teacher and student frustration. I had a young student quickly complete his phonics worksheet with me this week, so he could spend 3 minutes driving his toy car through Play-Doh. It was a highly motivating activity for him and a calming sensory play activity for him that took little preparation from me.
- March 10, 2018 at 9:57 PM #46333
We do have a pizza party to celebrate the end of Learning to Read. And in a sense, it is a “no work” celebration. Or at least it is minimal work for me compared to the pizza-making days of co-teachers working with older students.
I plan out what each student is to bring. They may trade around if necessary. Then they bring the ingredients ready to go on a pizza. The dough is made, the sausage fried and crumbled, the cheese shredded, etc. We don’t do onions, peppers, or other veggies because few of the young children like them but you easily could add them to the ingredient list.
Each child is then given an aluminum pie pan and a lump of dough. They work the dough out with their hands and add the toppings they wish.
My involvement at this point is supervising the construction, baking the pizzas, and clean-up afterwards. And the children enjoy the chance to make their pizzas just like they want them. (Except that I may have to monitor that one child doesn’t take most of the pepperonis or the cheese.) This has been a win, win idea for me on all fronts. The students anticipate it and I enjoy their creations.
- March 16, 2018 at 12:51 PM #46420
I teach geography and world history to seventh and eighth graders, and we bump up against plenty of long, unfamiliar words like Uzbekistan and antediluvian. A few years ago I stumbled upon a little exercise with such words that provides surprising returns on very little investment.
Whenever a student mispronounces an unfamiliar word during class—saying “Charthagians” instead of “Carthaginians,” for example—I pause the discussion and write the word on the board. “What’s the first syllable?” I ask. I underline it, then the rest of the syllables in turn. Together, we say the word one syllable at a time, “Car-tha-gin-i-ans.” Then a couple more times, smoothing it out until the whole class can say the word properly. Sometimes I’ll get out in front of the situation and go through the procedure with a difficult word without waiting for a student to mispronounce it. It only takes a minute or two. I’ve found that the process works well even with most foreign words, although sometimes an extra bit of information is needed about certain sounds from certain languages, and I don’t even try it with French words like Bordeaux and Charlemagne.
We do this about once per class towards the beginning of the year, and the frequency tapers off as the students’ skills grow. They learn to read more carefully, with greater attention to detail. They enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and I think it increases their confidence in tackling the unfamiliar. It’s been a while since we’ve gone over a word because by this time in the school year hardly anything is mispronounced, and when something is mispronounced it’s usually an excusable misplaced emphasis.
I try to keep things positive, not embarrassing to whoever said the word wrong. “Yes, that’s a hard word. At least you tried! Let’s figure it out together.” I want students to feel that they’re mastering a challenge. Early on they tend to adopt a mildly annoyed, do-we-seriously-have-to-do-this-again attitude, to which I respond that they’re learning a useful skill that will make their lives better. They go along with it good-naturedly.
- March 17, 2018 at 8:11 PM #46451
Excellent idea, Peter. You are helping them develop a skill that will potentially last a lifetime.
- March 24, 2018 at 9:04 PM #46626
Here is another idea that a co-teacher made use of various times. It falls in the “add spice to school” category rather than the learning arena but the idea has always been enjoyed.
As one of her mid-winter extras our fifth and sixth grade teacher had a class potluck for lunch one day. Each student was to bring a food item that began with their initial–she allowed for first name or last name. Some students creatively used all three initials; so HMS brought ham and mozzarella subs.
Last year one of my first graders was already planning what he could bring when he got to those grades.
- April 4, 2018 at 9:48 PM #47034
Just a little organizing tip here. I found that often when students were raising three fingers to request free time I was asking if they had remembered to study their Bible Memory first. About half the students needed the reminder . . . so I started putting as many short lines on the board as there were students and assigning a number to each student (I did it according to their seating arrangement, but according to alphabetical order would be smarter so changed seating wouldn’t mess it up). As they complete it, they slip up and write their number on their line. Now I only need to glance up to the board to know — but just having that reminder makes they rarely forget.
This same system is used for other subjects according to the day and it works really nicely. I think they like it too. Today I forgot to put up the lines and one student simply slipped up and did it for me.
- April 7, 2018 at 11:09 AM #47201
In general, think in terms of students using their energy whenever possible to accomplish necessary or important tasks. This can be as simple as having them stack workbooks to be checked on a pile open to the page to be checked. Or stacking papers to be checked by type. There’s no need for the teacher to spend time opening workbooks or sorting language papers from math papers.
Make or find a penmanship sample guide showing what A, B, C, and D/unacceptable handwriting looks like (based on such items as slant, letters-on-the-line, uniform size and spacing, etc.) Post these samples next to the basket where students turn in their penmanship. Have them evaluate their own work before turning it in by affixing the score they think best fits what they are submitting, when comparing it to the “standards” sample.
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