Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation after the SNOW-MAGEDDON!

I am linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Sparking Student Motivation Saturday!

If you live in the south, you probably can't remember the last day you had school! Our district closed last Wednesday in anticipation of the Snowmageddon storm, and we haven't been back since! Thankfully, we were already closed Friday and Monday! To make up our missed days we have some bank time, some teacher workdays that will be turned into school days, and other options to explore. The teacher workdays will be turned into school days, and we will have to have an "at home" workday on Saturday....which is basically what most teachers do every Sunday! Although the snowstorm disrupted our instruction, Valentine's Day party, and about 1,000,000 other things,I was happy to have it come when it did. My Aunt has been in the hospital, and I live within walking distance. (Only about 3/4 of a mile to a mile there from my house). Even though my 4WD truck was STUCK in our driveway (when they plowed the road, they blocked my truck in with about 3 feet of snow!!)- I was able to walk to the hospital to be with her and my family. 
So, now the question becomes HOW to get my students motivated when we return on Tuesday! We are in the MIDDLE of our fraction unit in math and our habitat unit in science! Two of the largest units taught all year!! I WAS on pace with our county pacing guide until missing several weeks of school due to snow! So now, my students and I must really work hard to catch up with where we should be. My motivational trick for my students is money! Now -- before you all have a heart attack and freak out -- I'm talking about CLASSROOM money. I have been teaching for 7 years, but have been frozen on step 2 on our payscale, and my hubby has not started his new job and has been unemployed for a month now. We are B-R-O-K-E. However, I started a classroom management system earlier in the year that revolves around MONEY! My students came up with consequence and rewards - or payments and penalties based on the idea that being the best student they can be is a JOB. The basics are: 
1) Students earn 5 cents each day they are present. If they are sick and have a doctor's excuse, they can still earn their pay for that day. 
2) For each "mark on the chart" (My weekly behavior chart is a freebie that you can grab here!) students must pay a 5 cent penalty. They also lose their pay for that day. 
3) If you go all week without a mark on the chart, you get a 25 cent bonus, AND earn extra recess. 
4) For progress reports and report cards, As, Bs and Cs earn bonus money. Ds don't earn any money, but they don't have to pay a penalty either. Ns (what our district calls Fs) must pay a 5 cent penalty. This was my STUDENTS' IDEA!!!!! They said that with all the help everyone has access to, there is no reason why anyone should fail. And you know what -- participation and grades have both INCREASED since this went into play. 
Now - to keep all of this straight, I just pay my students at the end of the week on Friday. It takes about 10 minutes to pay everyone and sign their planners for the day. I complete this during their AR time. It has been AMAZING. My group of students have learned to quickly count their money, and to trade coins for larger coins. They all LOVE to earn $1, because that allows them to shop in the prize box! $2.50 is lunch in the classroom with the teacher and a movie (usually Magic School Bus -- on Halloween we watched an Addams Family cartoon). $1.50 buys a homework pass, and $2.00 buys an extra 10 points added to an assignment. 

So, when my students return on Tuesday, with Valentine's craziness, and snow on the brain, I know that I will be giving out "bonuses" for students who are on task and focused. My teaching partner Joanne actually started the money system after she saw my classroom behavior improve and we compared scores on counting money and making change. The economic lessons are SO powerful, because my students really treat their learning as a job they must do. We have great parental support for some of our students, but not all, and this has taught my students to self motivate, and to give themselves some confidence. They feel like more of a classroom community -- each person has to do their own part,or it will not work! 

I am looking forward to reading some more motivation tips (I already read one about having a mystery student to watch during review-- and if they do well the class gets candy...I'm SO going to adapt that to money and my classroom!) 

I'm going to include some pictures of my 4 legged babies enjoying the snow. This was Wednesday evening, we only had about 6-8 inches. Once we went over 12, the dogs didn't have nearly as much fun playing in the snow because our youngest dog was just too short and chunky! Once Angel ran some circles and flattened the snow out - they continued to run and play! 
Here's the hubby playing with the dogs-- they were SO excited-- we don't get much snow! 

Hope you all enjoyed!! Don't forget to check out the other awesome entries on the linky! :)


  1. Hi! Since you had stopped by my blog and left a comment, I thought I'd check yours out too! :) Do you use actual money in your classroom? Or where do you get your play money from? What do they use to store their money? Sorry for all the questions but I am curious. :) :)

    1. I'm happy to answer the questions! I use play money that came with our math series, but I have added more to our kits from various places. I have found the Dollar Tree and Big Lots often have some great examples. I actually have different kits thrown together, which has made my students become better at identifying the coins. For example, one set is smaller than the other, so the quarter from one set and the nickel from another are almost the same size, so my students really have to know the coin! To store their money we use little tupperware containers (like the size that would hold crayons). You can purchase a 4 pack for $1 at the dollar store, but my mother's friend saves the plastic Beneful dog food containers that have a resealable lid. She gives them to me, and I have used those for their money (they go through the dishwasher first and the labels are removed!).My teaching partner just picked up some plastic containers with lids at the Dollar Tree. The $1 and $5 bills that I have are play money, but I am going to design something with a Panda on it for next year because that's our school mascot. I just did this with our money unit, but it has done so well that the 2nd graders have started talking about wanting to be in our class for the classroom money! I did try to do cups without lids at first (I had just picked up some coin cups from Chuck E. Cheese when my niece had her birthday party). We even rubber banded a plastic bag around them, but it was TOO messy and coins ALWAYS fell out. I learned my lesson very quickly -- a lid is a MUST on their money containers.