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Friday, August 14, 2009

Classroom Management Tip #6: Keep Student Success Visual

I believe that success breeds success; and if students can measure and visually see their success daily in the classroom, it motivates students to stay on task, to try a little harder, and to understand that rewards come from a job well done. In my classroom I always tried to come up with ways for students to evaluate their success in a fun and competitive manner.

I always started the year with an Attitude Button and usually reintroduced it a couple times during the year. I would ask each student to a write word that answered a question I would ask. Sample questions might be:

1. Write one word on your attitude button that depicts what you plan to do to improve your grades this school year?
2. Write one word that describes you as a student?
3. Write one word that describes your work ethic?

I would have the students wear their buttons in class on the day of their creation but inform them that if they could produce it from time to time it would be good for extra credit. About one time a week I would announce, “If you can produce your attitude button by the time I count to ten, it will be worth five bonus points on this assignment.” It was always amazing to me how many buttons would come out of book bags; but most importantly, it reminded the students that attitude is directly related to their success, which was the purpose of the activity. Below you will find brief explanations of other ideas I used to keep success visual. Also, you will find handouts and patterns to give you ideas you can use with your students.


These cards were passed out randomly to students who had struggled with behavioral issues but were showing progress in the classroom. Also, I used them for the student who displayed good manners, helped to clean the room, etc. If the teacher only uses the cards for struggling students the well behaved, well mannered students can sometimes fall through the cracks. It is important to include all of your students in any motivational idea that you might have; you might reward for different reasons, but all students need to feel like they can achieve an award if their behavior is good.


All four of these programs reward students for completing tasks in the allotted time frame, for winning a game, for reaching a goal, for scoring a passing grade on a test or assignment, etc. You can make-up any reason to reward a student. For example in “I Want To Be A Star” students create big stars (see pattern below) and can earn smaller stars (see pattern below) to attached to their larger star when their performance is worthy of receiving special recognition from the teacher. Each student has their own star and at the end of a set period the teacher recognizes students who have excelled in the star program. The concept for “What’s In a Name,” “Put Your Heart Into It,” and “It’s In the Bank” are all very similar. All reward students with a token if positive academic behaviors and grades are achieved. Below you will see the directions for each of the motivational ideas as well as patterns for visuals and rewards. I will note that in “It’s in the Bank,” students are paid fake dollars and I was always successful with having a weekly auction in which students would spend their money. I have sold a miniature candy bar for $25.00 many times. It is all about supply and demand. For the other plans I would give a small treat after six weeks or so to the top three students in each of my classes. I taught middle and high school so this worked for me. I work a lot in elementary schools now and usually reward the top five in an elementary class. I also set a goal for a certain number of stars, tags, etc. and if you were able to collect that number then you could replace your lowest homework grade with a 100. This in the big picture means nothing in grades but it provides the forum for all students to receive a prize.

Review of how you could receive an award (star, dollar, etc) in my classroom?

1. Completing tasks in a group activity in a set amount of time.
2. Completing all homework for one week.
3. Having perfect attendance for one week.
4. Scoring 100% on homework.
5. Scoring 100% on an in class assignment.
6. Scoring a passing grade on a test (C’s = 1, B’s = 2, A’s = 3).
7. Winning a game or sponge activity.

What does each student create and then get as an immediate reward for completing certain tasks?


Student creates larger star (see pattern) and receives smaller stars (see patterns) for immediate rewards. Winners are declared at the end by who has the most stars.


Student creates, “What’s in a Name” visual (see pattern) and receives blank squares cut from construction paper for immediate rewards. Students attempt to spell their name as many times as possible with each square received = to one letter. For example, my name is Susan and I would place an S on my first square, a U on my second square, etc. I would try to spell Susan as many times as I could as a visual reminder that I was doing a good job. Winners are declared at the end by who has the most squares.


Student creates larger heart (see pattern) for display and receives smaller hearts (see patterns) for immediate rewards. Winners are declared at the end by who has the most hearts.


Brown bags are used to create banks and students work for dollar bills (see pattern). A winner is not declared; but opportunities are given for students to spend their money. Other than the auctions mentioned above, I would do the following:

• Bonus points on homework for 15 dollars ($15.00 = 5 points).
• Give bonus points on tests for 25 dollars ($25.00 = 5 points)
• Change your seat for 100 dollars
• Remove a zero for 200 dollars.
• Anything you can think of will work.

I always used these programs primarily for academic reasons; I never gave out stars or dollars for improved behavior. I believe that behavior is expected and should follow suit. I gave out the “Caught Being Good Cards” as an acknowledgement but never gave rewards for behavioral issues. Students come to us with different IQ’s and as a result struggle and need to be pushed and encouraged; all students should know how to sit down and be quiet and should not be rewarded for it. There are always exceptions to every rule and I have been known to allow a student to buy off a referral but the cost was very high and I never allowed students to buy anything on credit. The only student this helped was an otherwise good kid who erred for the first time.

I urge you to keep success visual; it always worked for me and I think it will work for you. Praise your students and give them that extra push to do a good job.

To download these pictures click on the slide show, in the resulting window right click on the image and select "save picture as".

To get files related to this article please email me at smmcnamee@comcast.net
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For more Classroom Management Tips go to the Classroom Management Tips Page.


Staff Development for Educators January 12, 2010 at 7:33 AM  

It was an good post.I really like it.Thank you for your post.

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