Zeros are not an option in my classroom. I gladly give up my lunch to have lunch detentions. If the kids have not completed their two big assignments for the week (and test corrections when applicable), they will eat lunch with me until they have the work completed. Some will argue that we are not preparing them for college, etc when someone is not there to stay on them to turn in work. My thought is that what are they learning now by not doing the work in the first place? At what point do we stop "teaching" them to be responsible and just "assume" that they should already be that way? It is better to get a good foundation on completing work now, so they can be responsible with being on time in the future, and I am instilling the art of being responsible for their learning!
At the end of each six weeks, our math department offers an incentive party. We do a really big party for the first and last six weeks. The criteria to attend the incentive party is simple:
- all work must be turned in
- 100% effort must be given on benchmarks (this includes working every problem and writing a justification)
The kids live for these parties. I always have a missing work list hanging outside my door, so I do not get the constant questions of "what do I owe". I give them the deadline for the work If they have any missing work as of the deadline, they do not get to participate. Work will come flying in from the kids who never would have done the work to begin with.
For the first and fifth six weeks, we rent two bounce slides, and we set them up in the gym. The kids slide and play and many will bring basketballs and footballs. They have the option of being "tuned in", and they can bring their electronic devices to the party. The party takes place during their math class for the one day we have designated. We are double blocked for math, so they get about 90 minutes to relax. That is our way of saying, "thank you for doing your work and trying hard".
In order to pay for the bounce slides, the math department will host different fundraisers throughout the year:
- dances (sell concessions and glow items....easy way to make a profit of at least $900)
- sell tattoos (during football season on game days)
- water balloon dodgeball (sell water balloons and we go out on the field one afternoon and have a battle between teachers and students.....make at least $500)
For the other six weeks, we do smaller incentive parties in the classroom:
- movie and popcorn
- wii or xbox and play games (the kids love to play "just Dance")
- go to the gym or outside
For our final incentive party, the kids will bring $5-$7. We take the kids off campus for this incentive party, and it lasts the whole day. We always schedule this after ALL state testing has taken place (usually third week of May). For four years, we took the kids to a skating rink and park. We no longer have any skating rinks in our area, so this past year, we took them to the movies. The theater opened just for us! We watched a movie, and then we went to the park. The kids cover the cost of their ticket, and we cover the transportation costs (due to our fundraisers, we still have money). For many kids, this is the only time they experience any type of special outing like this.
Regardless of the party, I tell the kids that the biggest reward is not doing math for a day and to enjoy being a kid!
In my classroom, I also offer other incentives:
- turn work in on time
- A's on tests
- helping other students
- great comments or suggestions
- improvement in any area
I have a star chart for each class period. When a student accomplishes the things above, they get a star on their chart.
Once they get 5 stars, they get to participate in "incentive roll", and they get their name on a big star that hangs in the hallway. For Incentive Roll, they roll two dice, and they get the prize that is listed. The prizes are simple and cheap, but the kids are excited to participate.