What motivates you? Is it praise? Is it a tangible reward, like a gift card for coffee, food, or a drawing from a student? Is it intrinsic, such as a feeling you get from knowing you did your best or helped someone? If you’re like me, it’s a combination of these, and depending on the situation, different motivators sometimes work better than others.
Data Tracking Chart
I started this school year with a fancy tracking chart to record student computer usage minutes at the end of each week. This worked for a little while, until students realized they could log into the session and receive minutes on the tracking chart whether they were actively working or not.
If a tracking chart for minutes has worked as a motivator for your students, by all means continue to use it! I just found that my students were racking up the minutes on my tracking chart for simply being logged in, and they weren’t using the time productively. Digging a little deeper into the data helped me discover that this attempt at motivating did not work best for my classroom.
At a READ 180Universal coaching session, I was introduced to the certificate generator in SAM. This tool has been a game-changer in motivating my students! I use this tool to create and print certificates for students when they complete a computer segment.
It’s super simple to create certificates in SAM. Here’s how:
I usually enter “Completing Segment” on line 1, then the segment title on line 3. Doing it this way populates a certificate that looks like this:
I print the certificates on Fridays, sign them, and hand them out at the end of class on Mondays. I don’t have access to a color printer, so the certificates are simply black and white on plain white paper. Some of my students are really jazzed to receive a certificate, and others not so much.
To help me keep track of which certificates I need to print on Fridays, I have students write down the title of the segment they have completed on a clipboard. When they have completely finished a segment, before they choose a new one, they write it down on a document like this:
This little gem has been a game-changer for me! I decided it would be great for students to see what segment their peers are on, so they could talk to each other about the segments. I laminated the segment descriptions and added space for them to write their names. Using a whiteboard marker, students write their name under the segment they’re working on. When they finish a segment, they erase their name from the one they completed and write it under the new segment title they have selected. In addition to being a way for students to talk about the segment more with each other, this wall has also been a great visual for me. I can easily see which segments students are on, as well as tell which ones aren’t being utilized as often. Students like it because who doesn’t want to use a whiteboard marker? I know it’s one of my favorite parts of being a teacher!
Jessica Button is a fourth generation teacher, having been preceded in teaching by a great grandmother, both grandmothers, and her mother. She earned her B.A. in Education in 2006, and her Masters in Reading Education in 2010, both from Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils!). She has been teaching at her current school since 2007, and has taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. She was hired as her school’s Reading Specialist in 2016, and currently teaches READ 180 Universal Stage A to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. Jessica strives to help others achieve their dreams of becoming teachers, working as an Associate Professor for Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, and also serving as a mentor to Teacher Candidates. She is passionate about building relationships with students, and greatly enjoys helping them unearth their strengths and learn to find reading fun! In her spare time, she loves to read, hike, cook, and spending time with her family and friends.