Classroom participation

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Listlady, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    Hi everyone,

    I just thought I'd share something that I used in my classes last year that really seemed to help with getting students to participate in class.

    I called it "Brownie Points." They aren't bonus points (though the name sounds like they are)--they are required classroom participation points that students must get every week. I give each student a chart that tells them the task they must perform and the point value (and any limits on how many "count"), etc., and every Monday, they get a blank form and must track their participation to turn in on Friday. They have to get 10 points each week for a perfect score. (The only slight problem I had was with absences: If students missed a day but usually got their ten points, I'd give them two points for that day. If someone missed several days, I just exempted him/her from that week).

    Some of the duties include retrieving and putting away materials for their row (they have silent reading books, journals, text books that I keep in the room, etc.); checking their grades online; helping me with a specific task (random--errands to office or whatever comes up); answering a question correctly; reading aloud; doing a "reader review" of a book they've read (just a quick stand-up-and-tell-us-about-it sort of thing); or donating class materials. You can manipulate the point values to highlight the tasks you find most important.

    It may sound nuts to ask high school students to do this, but it really motivated them to become "good citizens" of the classroom, ha ha. I even had a few students write in their end-of-semester essays that they loved how Brownie Points really made classmates who would normally just sit there take part in class. The best part is that they had to track their own tasks (I would initial them randomly at the end of class while they were writing journal entries--I had them keep the forms clipped to their journals). Students appreciated the "easy points," and it really helped them to stay organized and be responsible. It also helped with organization (only one student per row was permitted to get materials or put them away, etc.--it really helped with time).

    Have any of you done anything similar? Do you think I'm nuts?
     
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  3. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I think I follow (and LOVE!) this idea... could you possibly post the chart you used?

    The students could pick any task to earn points, correct? As long as they did 2 points per day? Do the students write down what they did to earn points?

    This is great, I would love to try this in my MS classroom!
     
  4. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    Sorry, Ms.History, I can't post attachments (because I'm new, I guess), but if you PM me your email address, I can send you the forms.

    They have to get ten points per week any way they choose (according to limits on each task, etc.). Since that averages two per day, I will allot 2 points to an absent student who usually gets his/her points.

    This year, I'm planning to incorporate points for behaving, ha ha. I'm going to hand students who talk at inappropriate times (or waste time, or whatever) a "comment card" about his/her behavior. I think I'm going to offer 3 brownie points to any student who doesn't receive a card that week. (I'm also going to manipulate the task values so that they really really want those 3 points, ha ha).

    Thanks.
     
  5. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I LOVE THIS! It makes them 100% responsible and aware of their behavior!

    How do you keep them honest? For example, if they forget to fill it out all week and then just quickly fill it in?
     
  6. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I go around the room during journal time and initial the day's tasks. If they don't have any yet, that reminds them to fill it out. Otherwise, I try to remind them about them on Wednesdays or so that they need to make sure they're going to get their points. I do get lazy about initials, though, a few weeks into the semester.

    I also will occasionally (on strange weeks that are interrupted by schedule alterations) give them fun things to do for points on Fridays if several students are low. I have them answer questions and compete. etc. I had about 150 students last year, and I think there were only 4-5 times that individual students didn't get their points (unless they missed school or something). I know that some people may not like the idea--it's sort of grade padding, but I think the results make it worth it (plus, they don't get easy grades on other assignments). I know I could have them do all these things for NO points, but this makes it more fun.
     
  7. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2013

    This sounds interesting but I can't quite visualize it. Ms. History, are you able to upload it?
     
  8. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I think she's new, too. Probably can't attach. I'd be happy to send it to someone who can if they PM me.
     
  9. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I love the idea! I'll PM you :)
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I think this sounds like a really great idea. My biggest concern would be with keeping students honest.
     
  11. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I was worried about that, too, Caesar, but the fact that I initial the forms makes them a little paranoid about lying. And if you initial at the end of class, you'll remember who answered questions or volunteered to read. If you're dealing with the "retrieving materials" for the row sort of task, you can always double check with the student's row members. I advise my students to "do the math" and find a role they can complete every day in order to get points. For instance, they can get 1.5 points for retrieving/putting away materials. We typically use 3 different items per day. One person could get the journals for everyone in his/her row everyday and get 7.5 points just by doing that. (I'm lowering that point value this year, though, ha ha--too easy). Someone else can put them away; someone else can get textbooks, etc., etc.
     
  12. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    By the way, anyone I've sent the attachment to may feel free to post it here. I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
     
  13. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2013

    Oh man, Listlady... this is educator GOLD! Thank you so much for sharing! : )

    Please, let me know if you have any other awesome procedures that have been successful!

    For adding good behavior to the point system, it will have to be something pretty finite, so they are able to know for sure whether they earned the points. My 2nd consequence (after a warning) is that they have to fill out a refocus-type sheet. Maybe each week with no refocuses is worth a point or two?
     
  14. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I am going to ramp up the "checking grades" task to 2 points, lower the "get stuff" one to a point, and make a category for a "card free week" worth 3. I'll give them a card when they "misbehave." They have to fill it out and return to me at the end of class (so I'll KNOW who had one and who didn't). I made the cards already. I hope they work well: they are small, I can have plenty of them handy, and just hand them to offending students without interrupting class. They have to say why they received the card, say what they'll do to change the behavior, and sign it. (And they understand that I could still write them up (report them to the office), so they SHOULD at least BS me a little on the form. I hate to take time out of class to write anyone up, so this will remind me of "offenders" and help me to see if they feel any remorse before I decide, ha ha.
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 22, 2013

    Nobody can post attachments on the site, so continue to use the PM feature.
     
  16. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    Thank you--I didn't know that. And I'd be happy to email anyone who sends me their address in a PM.
     
  17. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2013

    Thank you for sharing!!! Definitely something I will be using!!!
     
  18. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 23, 2013

    Thanks so much, everyone. Your enthusiasm helped me decide to put it on TpT, ha ha.
     
  19. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Jul 25, 2013

    Great Idea
    But in my neck of the woods the term "Brownie points" refers to 'kissing up" to the teacher, "Brown nosing" which has a face/butt relationship at least that is what a parent (who was a child psychologist) told me (I would still use Brownie points).
    Maybe you could use the school's mascot in regard to the name of the points; Lion Points, Tiger points, Knight points, Banana Slug's points, etc.
    The name of the school's points;, Franklin points, Ocean (ave) points, the initials of the school points; JFK points, just don't use "Patterson Middle School initials" Points
    You could use Ms/Mr "<someone from history>" Points
    and finally "Listlady" Points.


    There is a way but if I told you I'd have to [-]Kill you[/-] er... think bad things about you
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    ok save your picture to a photo sharing site like, photobucket, get its address and use the img code
    http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/misc.php?do=bbcode
     
  20. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 27, 2013

    Thanks for the tip, Irishdave. The Banana Slugs cracked me up, ha ha. The name "brownie points" implies kissing up here, too, but that's okay: they need to know that pleasing their authority figures is an important skill, too. :)
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 27, 2013

    You know, I've been thinking about this for a few days now. I think I'm going to do it next year! I'm really glad that you posted this idea because I think it's completely workable in my classroom. Plus, it meets my #1 requirement of not being too time-consuming for me. :)

    I'm going to use some of your tasks and also add my own content-specific tasks. I want to make it as academic as possible, with only one or two housekeeping-type tasks (mostly for those students who are difficult to engage) for a very low point value.

    Thank you!!
     
  22. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I think this is a superb idea. I'm not sure it will fly in my classroom because we're supposed to be basing grades on 80% summative and 20% formative assessments, and this doesn't really fit into the whole "philosophy" that my school is buying into...But I'm continuing to think how I can adapt it to my classroom. I'd love to hear more from those of you who are doing your own adaptations!
     
  23. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I have something like this in my class, but yours is probably way better. Haha.

    They have a participation grade that automatically starts out as a 100. When I check for bellringers, if they didn't do theirs that day, they lose a point. If they disrupt during Monologue Time, they lose a point. If they are just completely off-task, they lose a point.

    However, if they're on task, they gain a point. If they are helpful to their fellow students, gain a point. If a student who is answering the bellringer gets it wrong and they volunteer to assist him/her, they get a point.

    No student made below an 80 and a few made a 105, but it holds them accountable, encourages them to be helpful, and is SUPER easy for me to track.
     
  24. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 28, 2013

    Bopper: No, I don't initial every day. I start out trying to initial at the end of class every day for the first week or so, but then I get lazy about it, and initial randomly. It's nice when I remember, because I like walking around and checking in with everyone at the end of class. Just the "threat" of initialing is enough, I think, though. My goal this year is to try to initial them at least twice a week (I never bothered to initial on Fridays since I grade them over the weekend).

    Thanks, Caesar, I hope it works out for you. I'm definitely changing mine this year (and probably several times). Since they get new logs every Monday, I can change them whenever the mood strikes, ha ha. (Though I usually make a ton of copies at the beginning--I just end up writing a new task code on the board and telling them about it until we use up the old ones).

    For me, it's only 10 points per week, a very small portion of their grade for the term. In six weeks, it's 60 points, and they usually have over 1000.

    I began using it mostly as a time saver: we do silent reading and journal entries every day (and we keep all books and journals in my room): I didn't want 25 students trying to get their stuff at the same time, ha ha. Then, I realized that the school was concerned with the fact that students weren't checking their grades (I added "check grades online" as an item), etc., etc. They helped the class become more organized, and I did notice that student grades went up when they were checking them more often.

    For anyone who wants them, I have them for free on the TpT site (and if, for some reason they aren't free, just send me a PM and I'll email them to you. My A-Z pals can always get them free! :) Here's the link: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Classroom-Participation-784710. I hope putting the link here is okay.
     
  25. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I'm going to run this idea by the other science teachers (because I love it and really want to try it in my classroom!). Great idea to include "check your grades online" because my students seem to be able to use the internet for just about anything that isn't school related. The info is there, but they (and their parents) don't use it.
     
  26. Crono91

    Crono91 Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2013

    This even seems like a wonderful idea for the elementary level! They eat up charts like it's candy.

    I am curious, however, about students reviewing their book to the class. Has anyone actually done that?

    Coming from someone who never liked speaking in front of peers, I can't imagine anyone did that! And if they did, I'm impressed that you managed to get them to do it!

    I remember the first time I was embarrassed in elementary school for public speaking. I'm still thinking of ways to reduce student qualms and help them be comfortable with it early.

    Anyway, wonderful behavioral idea! Definitely stealing this when I become a teacher.
     
  27. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jul 31, 2013

    Regarding book reviews: yep, my students did them. They'd just stand up (or sit in my black bar stool, which they all love for some reason) in front of class and hold up the book, say a couple things about it and whether they recommend it or not. I had so many students sign up to do them that we ran out of time.

    We did silent reading in class regularly, so this was also a tool to help students see which books were newly available. Worked out well.

    I used to be terrified of public speaking when I was younger, and because of my own kooky experiences, I do my very best to expose students to every opportunity to do it as possible. Some of my students will have senior project presentations (10-12 minutes) at the end of the semester, and I really don't want them freaking out. I give them all sorts of lower-stress presentations (and fun stuff) so that they are more comfortable at the end of the term. The sophomores and juniors don't have major presentations like the seniors, but I still have them present as much as possible. Heck, I have them speak to the class on the first day.
     
  28. Storyteller

    Storyteller Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2013

    This sounds like a fabulous idea that I will be looking at more in the next few weeks as I get ready for school! My cooperating teacher in my student teaching last fall did something similar that I'm going to be also working on implementing (and maybe I can use ideas from both his method and yours!)

    His was called PowerPoints. Students could earn points each week for doing their homework and participating. They also earned two points for making an 'A' on a test and 1 point for a quiz. These points built up (he kept a record on Excel and posted the spreadsheet for all to see) and could be redeemed for things. A trip to the bathroom cost 3 powerpoints. A pencil cost 2. 15 PowerPoints could be redeemed for VIP seating on a test (use of a notecard, special seat where he might walk by and drop a hint, etc). At the end of the 9 weeks, students with points left could add them to their lowest test grade. It really cut down on the number of students leaving for the bathroom, for sure!

    I'm going to be thinking about how to integrate your idea with his because I like them both so much!
     
  29. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 3, 2013

    I agree that this chart idea is a great one. I would be hesitant to use it for the bathroom. If I found out that my child had to earn points just so she could go to the bathroom, I would not be a happy parent. I could see this for lots of other things though.
     
  30. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 3, 2013

    I can tell you mean well, and I do like your creativity on this. I just don't want you in trouble or another teacher who tries this. Let's say you have a girl in the class and it is her time of the month. Are you really going to make her stay after school because she needs to use the bathroom? I know having been a 7th grade teacher (and having talked to female teachers about this issue), not all girls will feel comfortable telling a teacher (whether male or female) this is why they want to use the bathroom.

    From your posts, it sounds like you have a good imagination, so I am sure you could find another solution to this problem.
     
  31. Storyteller

    Storyteller Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2013

    That's a good point. I don't want to screw up my first year of course! Haha, though, just so you know, when I posted this, I was just giving examples of what my cooperating teacher did. I don't intend to use all of his "point rewards", especially because I think they work better with 11th graders than my 7th graders. I am going to take what worked from his and what I liked and change them to suit MS and maybe pair them with some ideas from the other chart given on here. But yeah...please don't think I'm some crazy bathroom Nazi!
     

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