Now, that I’m back up to fourth grade, I’m going to show you my preferred method of motivating students to do their best. I like to focus on growth…improvement from last year. Admittedly, there are a lot of problems that come from focusing on growth based on how the scale works, but I am trying to work out some tweaks in that regard.
Last year, for the in class motivation, I used an auction system. The students recieved “dollars” for every point they scored on the test. Passing or not. Every prize was set at an amount that would require them to score high enough to pass at least two tests (i.e. Scores above 200 were passing for third grade and the some…I set all starting bids at $400.00. Meaning they would hopefully pass two tests in order to get the amount to start bidding).
Raffle Drawings for Standardized Testing
*Spool (if that’s what you call it) of blank raffle tickets (you can find these online here or at any party store)
*8-10 (depending on number of prizes) brown paper lunch sacks
*Signs created by hand or on the computer with the prize clearly listed
*Spreadsheet created with students scores from previous year in each category along with a column for growth
How It’s Done
I first select the prizes. You can do this in a variety of ways. One of the teachers on my team shops and spends quite a bit of money on toys and gift cards and the like. Those prizes are then displayed with the sack beneath them for the kids to put their tickets in.
I give away a different kind of prize and these prizes usually allow for 4-8 winners at a time.
This year my theme is “Hatch’s Batch of Smart Cookies” (Stole that idea here)
This year’s prizes will include:
-Cookies and Milk with Mr. and Mrs. Hatch
– Cookie Dough to Go (make it at home)
-Slam DUNK with Mrs. Hatch’s brother
– Cookie delivery and lunch with Mrs. Hatch’s parents (?)
-Collection of ____________ teachers favorite cookie recipes–Cookie Cookbook (I’m begging teachers in my building to share their favorite recipes with me and then I’ll make a cookbook. In exchange for taking the time to send that email, I will make an extra copy for the teachers and it will be a “Thank you” to them…I’m really excited about it).
This year, I will be using their scores from last year as a starting point. I create the spreadsheets and share their scores from the previous year with them so they know what they’re trying to beat.
After they finish each test (in 4th grade there are 3 tests) I calculate their growth and when we’ve returned to the classroom that afteroon, they receive their raffle tickets.
Students have a choice, they can immediately put their name on the ticket and stick it in the bag, or they can hold onto it. Every year I have a little of each kind of student. The ones who hold onto their tickets usually do so to wait and see which bags have the least amount of tickets, so what they’re most likely to win.
(Secret: I work it out so that each student will win one main prize. I let the class vote on the first raffle I draw and if I draw five names for five prizes, those students are excluded from getting another prize. That’s the reason I let them choose which item I draw first. I always do include an option to buy candy or recess time with remaining tickets so that way students all win a big prize but can also hold onto a few tickets if they choose…to get more bang for their buck so to speak.)
We draw. Students receive prizes the entire week following.
Everyone is happy.
Testing is a high stress time of year for teachers and often is felt among everyone in the building, students included. This is a way to bring a very fun element into testing. My kids love it every year and since I looped up with them they are already telling the other students about the button they get and how we dance to “Eye of the Tiger” every morning. They love gearing up for a test. They also love eating lunch in the computer lab if they’re still testing. Weird I know.
I’m not a big rewarder. I don’t use any incentive plans in my classroom whatsoever. In a lot of ways, come testing time, I feel like a big sell out. However, there is nothing in the testing for the students this young. It doesn’t affect whether they will graduate from school. I don’t do this to make them pass, I work on that all year long, I do this to help motivate them to do their best.
Honestly, though, I think they would all work just as hard without it. I include it as my thank you to them. They work so hard for me all year long and I like turning a stressful time into a fun time.
Call me a sellout if you want. It won’t hurt my feelings. I really enjoy testing so far and not many teachers can say that. It’s a fun time in my room!
**Look for more “From the Classroom” posts about testing. **