Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teachin' Tuesday- How to Motivate 13 year-olds

So, on my long car ride down to Florida last week my best friend and I had some pretty serious discussions about the plight of public education here in Ontario. Opinions were argued and validated through agreement, grievances were aired and vented, sarcasm was used. A. Lot. But one of the the best things I discovered, learned, decided is that using incentives to get students to do their work is okay. My best friend teaches high school and she still offers chocolate bars and other candy to her students so maybe it isn't so bad that I use the same techniques in Grade 8?

Tomorrow during period 4 all the Grade 8s will be brought down to the gym and our Term Three Strike System will be explained. You can get a strike for this, you can get a strike for that, etc because Grade 8s are notoriously difficult during third term when they have obviously become much too cool for school but no one remembered to inform the teachers (notice the sarcasm?). My students will have to stay within a certain number of strikes, I believe we choose 5, or risk losing their grad trip to Wonderland or even their graduation dinner/dance.

Now I know that there will be kids that will not receive a single strike, just as I know there are kids that will receive the 5 allocated strikes and still go on the trip. Ahh,  the joys of consistency (more sarcasm).  So in order to preserve my sanity and reduce my stress load I have decided to initiate an incentive system in my classroom. I am going to call it ...

Gotcha! You were just caught being good!

I started off on Monday with a Pop Quiz! I know, mean teacher right? But this Pop Quiz was all about the rules and routines of my classroom and anyone who scored a perfect 20/20 would be given a prize. I handed out chocolate today to the 9 students (out of 50) who received a perfect score. So I have set the stage, they've done something good and received a prize. Now I am going to spring the main contest on them...

Every time a student follows a rule, like:
1) Hands in their homework on time
2) Has a silent reading book in class for DEAR
3) Gets their agenda signed by their parents on the assigned days

I am going to give them a ballot. At the end of each week I will draw for candy and other prizes, and at the end of the month there will be a grand prize winner of McDonald's or pizza lunch. Great, right?

My husband says bribery, I say whatever gets you through to the end of June!

PS- I will be starting Graffiti Journals in the next week or so as my students read through a Graphic Novel adaptation of Hamlet! At the end of the unit they use all the graffiti they've collected in their journals and create a graffiti wall that retells the story of Hamlet. It's great for the visual and more hands-on learners. My original posts about the Graffiti Strategy are here and here

3 Thinks and Thoughts of Others:

SB said...

Cool, Beth - I actually do pretty much this exact exact thing!!! Yay!

not too serious i hope

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Ah 8th graders in the spring. Gotta love 'em - they are the reason I teach 7th grade instead! Sounds like a great plan. I like much more the idea of catching them being good. And who isn't motivated by chocolate - I know I am! Great plan. Wishing you an easy spring!

Beth said...

Jill, this is way I was so hesitant to move from 7 to 8 this year. I miss my 7's a lot....even though half of my kids were my 7's!! They've become monsters.

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe