Rewards to shout about?
My year 7 English class are a unique mix of personalities and, like most stand alone secondary schools, it takes a while for those personalities to learn to work together. This group are particularly LOUD! Their homeroom teacher (also the year 7 coordinator) and I were reaching serious frustration point in trying to encourage an appropriate level of noise for inside work. Then, while randomly surfing the net and the app store, I found an ipad app called Too Noisy.
We experimented with the free version and eventually the yr 7 teachers have bought the app to get all the features. Essentially it is a noise meter with graphics that allow students to see when they are getting too loud. The teacher can set the levels for different activities. It is most effective when shown on the whiteboard so all students can see it but if I am using the whiteboard then I just set my ipad on the front of my desk.
The most recent updates have included a star system … if students can keep the noise level below the yellow (halfway mark) for a set number of minutes they earn a star. If they get too noisy and ‘crack the screen’ setting off the alarm they lose a star.
This has really appealed to the students and we now have a new challenge in our classroom. I have set the star level to 4 minutes. The challenge is to earn 10 stars in a double lesson (90 minutes).
This then prompted the question “What will we earn?”
Seemed like a fair question and when I threw it back to the students they could only come up with “fish & chips” or “chocolate frogs”.
I’m not against extrinsic rewards, especially at junior levels to work towards self management … I offer a chocolate frog each week as part of our spelling games … but it did strike me that the only rewards they could think of were food rewards and not really ‘healthy’ options. I joked that I would be happy to bring a bag of apples or carrots as a reward but that didn’t go down too well. After some thought they decided that the reward could be a games session … I have a game we play in teams that promotes vocabulary, grammar and thinking skills (students especially like the ‘hot seat’ rounds where they are under pressure to come up with words).
So this is now our goal … 10 stars = 1 games session!
What I like about it is:
- A) the students chose it;
- B) it is something that is fun, not expensive and everyone can be involved in;
- C) it doesn’t link goal achievement with food.
Not everything we do needs an extrinsic award, ultimately we move towards intrinsic satisfaction with a job well done … hence not every goal in our class has a reward but it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun every now and again.
What is your attitude to rewards?