[Teacher Tips] 9 Incentives to Motivate Your Students At Home and In School
[Teacher Tips] 9 Incentives to Motivate Your Students At Home and In School
Recognition and incentives can be a great way to motivate students and facilitate learning. From free rewards to smaller prizes, there are endless ways to commend your students and encourage them to do their very best work! One way to do this is through performance-based contests or challenges rooted in the metrics available to you in your Edmentum online programs. Below we’ve compiled a handful of fun ideas and tips to inspire your students as they reach their individual growth goals, whether they are doing so in the classroom, virtually, or in a hybrid setting.
Individual Student Recognition & Incentives
Certificates: Share award certificates with students who meet mastery milestones or spend a certain amount of time working within their online learning program. Certificate themes can include “Top Ten Students” or “Reading MVPs,” for example. Certificates can be printed to take home or pinned to a bulletin board at school. They may also be shared digitally via screen share. Additionally, teachers can create a mini awards ceremony in PowerPoint that is perfect for any learning setting.
Celebrating ALL of our students and faculty as we have transitioned to online learning! Special recognition to our leaders in mastery learning and time on task! @LaurensMiddle @LCSD55 @edmentum pic.twitter.com/qJh8yenzDR
— Anna (@annatbrink) April 2, 2020
Lawn Signs: Hopping on an exciting new trend this year, let your students know they are appreciated by hand-delivering yard signs that recognize their accomplishments. Signs can be simple and handmade, and read brief messages like:
- “Third Grade Math Challenge Winner in the House!”
- “Thomas Elementary Rock Star Student Award Winner”
- “Ms. Miller is so proud of me!”
Had a blast putting these signs out for some of my students today! Great way to boost your students on a teacher budget— Sign created with my Bitmoji & @canva hot glued to a Dollar tree garden stake! #exactpath #edmentum #dollartreeteacherideas #bitmojiclassroom #DISskipjacks pic.twitter.com/R1YrsEGLy9
— Christy South (@ChristyS427) May 18, 2020
Visit from the Teacher: This school year looks very different compared to years past, and students will love the opportunity to meet with their teacher in person when possible (given prior parent approval and appropriate social distancing measures, of course!). Surprise your top-performing students with a visit to their home, acknowledging their efforts and inspiring them and other students to keep up with the great work. You can bring the student’s certificate and/or yard sign when visiting. Don’t forget to snap a photo!
Ms. Brazell issued an Exact Path challenge to her students during the week of May 4-8. The students who received the highest number of trophies and number of activities completed, won a surprise visit from Ms. Brazell. @kcsdschools @edmentum pic.twitter.com/J3QASi8b1t
— Camden Elementary School (@CamdenColts) May 13, 2020
Further, a virtual lunch date or game session with the teacher can also be an exciting incentive for students to meet learning goals. How often do students get to spend time with their favorite teacher when class is not in session? Depending on where instruction occurs, ideas include ordering a lunch delivery to your school or homes, and giving your winning student the option to invite a friend to tag along.
Online Shout Outs: There are several ways to acknowledge students online, whether it be through the morning announcements on Zoom, or on your school’s website or social media channels. For the latter, consider sharing a photo of your home visit or the students’ certificates. If students won a contest or challenge, another way to shout out their achievements is to create a special video in which yourself or an administrator acknowledges the students and their hard work. Students can also take photos or selfies with the mastery awards they’ve earned in their online programs (like Ruby does below!) to be shared on your school’s digital channels.
— Cassie Rochholz (@cassie_rochholz) April 30, 2020
Skills Tracker: Does your online learning program give out ribbons or trophies as students develop new skills? If your classes are meeting in person, consider creating a “Token Tracker,” where students can color in their charts as they earn new mastery tokens. (See below for an example using mastery trophies.) The first student to color in every token on their chart may be eligible for a prize, such as a small care package containing school supplies. The skills tracker is a great way to visualize and boost engagement and, ultimately, learning growth.
— G.W. Trenholm (@GWTPrimary) September 25, 2020
Raffle prizes: Classics for a reason, individual raffle prizes for class challenges are also a great option. These can be in the form of small gift cards, lunch or treats delivered to a student’s home, or simple care packages that may include school supplies or other items like coloring books or toys.
Class-Based Recognition & Incentives
Create a Leaderboard: There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition! If you are hosting a contest that involves different classes and/or grade levels, developing a leaderboard to track points earned for trophies, ribbons, or other skills tokens may be an exciting way to generate enthusiasm. Here, you can share weekly point updates with participating classes to help visualize progress and incentivize achievement. At the end of the contest period, the class or grade level with the highest number of points wins the reward of their choice.
— Camden Elementary School (@CamdenColts) March 24, 2020
Class Parties: Who doesn’t love a good party, be it a dance party, movie night, game day, or talent show? Motivate your students to reach class goals by offering an end-of-contest celebration. Games can involve bingo or Pictionary, for example. To go the extra mile, you can even facilitate a themed party, like a pajama day or holiday-specific party. Students will love the opportunity to dress up and bring props for the occasion. The best part is that any of these activities can take place virtually or within a classroom setting. Virtual class bonus: add custom, themed Zoom backgrounds for extra fun.
Teacher Challenge: Few things are more motivating for students than seeing teachers to do something silly, whether it’s participating in a whipped cream pie toss, hula hoop challenge, Tik Tok dance, or wearing a goofy costume while teaching a lesson. If you have a secret talent or skill, like playing an instrument or baking, you might even consider turning a special performance into a class prize. Often, it is these moments that solidify relationships, unite your class, and are remembered for years to come. Depending on your creativity (and comfort level), the possibilities here are endless.
Tying it All Together
Quick tip: When creating contests and challenges, make sure to alternate your reward systems to keep students engaged. It is always a good idea to have something new and fresh for students to anticipate as they grow in their learning journey!
Finally, remember that reward and recognition systems can go beyond gifts and individual praise—in fact, they can help students foster a sense of independence by encouraging them to take ownership of their educational performance. This is true for class-wide incentives as well, which come with the added perk of contributing to a much-needed, renewed sense of community this school year.
We hope you are inspired by these ideas as you map out your classroom engagement strategies! Did you use any of these options or come up with new ones of your own? Let us know by tagging @edmentum on social media.