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Is it OK to reward only some students?

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Is it OK to reward only some students?
Old 09-27-2017, 08:34 PM
 
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I teach 7th grade math and science in an urban area. My kids have been a handful this week in science. I teach 3 periods of math. I have my first period math students again at the end of the day for science. They have labs every day this week. Monday went ok. Tuesday was awful. So today I did the experiment for them under the doc cam. They really enjoy the experiments, so me doing it for them today was their consequence for Tuesday's behavior. I was thinking of rewarding a few good students (prob 10) with a "fun experiment". I'm thinking of trying out rewarding good behavior instead of constandling reprimanding for bad bahavior. The fun experiment will be making icecream with dry ice (since we are learning about different reactions, endothermic and exothermic). Do you think that's a bad idea? Will this cause the kids who don't earn the fun experiment to act up or bully the students who did earn it (teasing them of being teacher's pet)?

I thought it was a good idea at first. Now I'm second guessing it.


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Old 09-27-2017, 09:43 PM
 
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No matter how you spin it, what you are trying to do is still reprimanding bad behavior. Not only that, you are excluding and segregating (illegal I'm sure) a set of students from a lesson that could be the one to hook them into being engaged in science.

Try this:
Set up your expectations up before the start of the lesson. Limit it to 3. Something like, Today we are going to do a unique lab but I need 3 things from you: 1) When I speak, everyone is listening, 2) When I say share your thoughts, you and your high-five buddy got to share within 30 seconds, and lastly 3) When I say write, you write.

Then go into your normal teaching style (I do objectives first, followed by the I do, we do, you do model, and close.

Repeat those rules over and over through out the lesson.

Use an engaging lesson like the mystery tube http://undsci.berkeley.edu/lessons/mystery_tubes.html

It's pretty easy to make and if you group the kids, you'll only need to make a small batch. I made 12 in about an hour.

I teach 8th grade science myself with about 37 kids in each class. A good mix of kids of all intellectual and behavioral differences. Only 3 students don't write, but they do the rest.
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try it
Old 09-28-2017, 03:43 AM
 
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I would say try some of the ideas shared here and with your colleagues. I'm curious to know what your same grade level and same subject matter colleagues think.

Although there's people that think that you might be depriving them of something if you do or do not do some activity, I would make sure that everyone has equal access. In other words, if what you're awarding your students who are behaving well is some form of an enrichment activity (you know, something that is not in the curriculum per se in the current level) then I say go for it. My concern is the logistics of how you're going to implement these ideas.

I also think that it's time to pull out that behaviour plan and go over the rules/expectations and consequences with your students. Remember, whatever you are doing, do not punish yourself.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:42 AM
 
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Thank you for your insight. I appreciate all the feedback I can get. I really like your advice on being extremely clear of expectations. I have spoken with my colleagues about what they do when their students act up. They also end up doing the experiment for the students instead of letting them do it themselves. As far as I know, they do not have any reward system in place. The "fun experiment" I was considering using as a reward/incentive would be an extra enrichment activity. It is not in the curriculum whatsoever. None of the other science classes will be doing it. It is something I found online that looks fun and ties in great with exactly what we are learning. That being said it is completely supplemental so I am not worried about doing anything "illegal" if some students do not get to participate in the activity.

Do you guys think I should offer the extra activity to the entire class? If so, should I tell them what the activity will be? Or just say it's a surprise? Or should I toss the idea altogether?

Thank you for your much needed feedback!
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Rewards in MS
Old 09-28-2017, 02:01 PM
 
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I don't believe a reward should ever be given to the entire class unless everyone deserved it. Why not just clearly let the whole class know that you plan to have a special ice cream event on _____ (let them know when) with the following requirements for those who want to earn a ticket to attend. If possible, invite the owner of a local ice creamery to give a brief demonstration or how about a local celebrity to sweeten the pot?


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Old 09-28-2017, 03:43 PM
 
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Thank you, I really liked how you said don't punish yourself. I feel like we can all be a bit hard on ourselves at times.

Students have minimum days every Friday at my school. So they get out of class 2.5 hours early. We have a great after school program, so about 25/30 of my students stay after school with me until 6pm. I was thinking of doing then, that way it won't cut into class time. The students would be told in advance so they could make arrangements if they're not in the after school problem.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:45 AM
 
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It's risky using academics for discipline. There's the chance some students will associate science with punishment. This is why some students develop a hate for writing because somewhere in their early schooling a teacher(s) used "sentences" as punishment. In other words, when dealing with discipline students should know instantly the teacher has shoved academics to the back burner and is now in discipline mode using methods designed to deal with disruption. It's either instruction or discipline but never using one to govern the other.

Consider Fred Jones' and Michael Linsin's take on rewards: everyone gets one for doing "nothing". This helps eliminate problems associated with playing favorites, animosity, intrinsic motivation and tracking (clerical work). Linsin uses the example of standing at the door as students are leaving, "Hey class! Pencils for everyone! Thanks for coming to school today!" Good or bad each student receives a "gift" from the teacher. Would you look forward to coming back to this class tomorrow?
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