Monday, March 1, 2010

the value of a colorful sticker

My students take their stickers seriously. All exams are on a 20 point scale so anyone who has 15 or above is rewarded a sticker. This sequence, the stickers feature dinosaurs. I’m amazed at how excited my students get over stickers. I’m almost sure I’m the only teacher who has rewarded them a sticker in their lives. But it’s more than just a sticker… it also means they have a good shot at being a group leader this upcoming sequence.

I might have mentioned how in my classes of younger students, they’re divided into 6 groups and compete for points every sequence. The group with the most points gets rewarded at the end of the sequence. Last year, I changed up the groups myself every sequence and just called them “Group 1, 2,…” etc. Students were complaining that I wasn’t being fair in choosing groups but honestly, it was completely at random. This year, I changed things up a bit. I choose the six students who have the highest average in my class that semester to be group leaders and sort of in dodge ball fashion, they choose who is in their group. I realize choosing teams always leaves the same kids picked last but with the size of my class, it just seemed to work better for everyone. The kids are happy with the arrangement. Group leaders don’t actually choose their closest friends as one might think. And they know who might cause disruption problems if they’re sitting next to their certain students, so they’re very strategic about it. Disruptions cause the entire group to lose points and group leaders definitely keep this in mind. This arrangement has transformed my classroom. I hardly feel overwhelmed by the amount of kids per class anymore. In fact, my younger groups of 70 are easier to handle than the 40 terminales (seniors) who cannot be motivated with friendly competition or candy. What motivates the terminale students? I have yet to find out. Many of them are actually my age and aren’t the least bit intimidated by me. I have to ask these students to leave the classroom on a daily basis.

So, what do I give the winning team in the younger classes? There are about 12 students per group and they get a point added to their final group as well as some candy or pencils, ink pens, etc.

This year, they also get to choose their own group names. Some examples have been: Obama, Champions, Hollywood, Purple Flowers, Beyonce, and New York.

I realize I haven’t posted any school pictures on the blog yet. I’ve never felt all that comfortable bringing the camera to school but there’s only 3 months left. I’ll have to post some soon! Wow, is it March already?