Several years ago, when I was learning how to navigate this crazy methodology, I attended a workshop in Denver taught by Carol Gaab. I don’t remember everything she covered, because she did SO much, but the BEST thing I took away from her was 3 words that she repeated what felt like 7.2 billion times in 2 days! “KEEP IT NOVEL!”
When it comes to Classroom Management techniques, games, point systems, rewards, WHATEVER, any and all of it has to be kept novel if we want our students to buy into it. It doesn’t matter what age they are either. This means that, we have to change our management “system” every so often, to keep our students engaged, eager, and excited to learn. I have so many management systems that I use, I have a giant short hand list that I keep next to my whiteboard (next to my brain break ideas) so when I can feel a class, getting board or tired of a system I throw something new at them which may just be a twist on the old system, and all of a sudden they are freshly motivated! It is so great!
In a successful CI classroom, management should be minimal and super easy. If kids are engaged they are acquiring, and you don’t really need to worry about keeping them engaged. Especially if it is all interesting and compelling input! That is what rocks about what we do! HOWEVER, I always have something extra to keep motivation up and just for extra fun!
The system I used at IFLT that so many people had questions about was my point system, it is something I saw Joe Dziedzic doing in his class and I modified it and made it a little more LOCA. I wrote STUDENTS and MAESTRA (teacher) on the white board in a place that I could sprint to quickly and reach easily. Periodically throughout the class, I would add points to the students column with simple tally marks. They would receive these for 100% engagement and participation, or if a student said something really smart, or if I saw great energy, teamwork, ANYTHING really. I would give myself points if I felt that energy was low, or I didn’t have 100% participation or I felt that the students were being lazy. Some days at the end of class, the students would have 20 points and me 3, other days the would have 239, and I would have 54!
Many people asked my “system” when it came to awarding these points. Here is my GIANT SECRET…. There is no system… none at all. The points are completely arbitrary. What is important is that your students THINK they matter. Now, since this is a public blog, I will probably have to ACTUALLY think of some sort of system this year, if my students read this! But YOU DO NOT HAVE TO! That is the best part about it! If you feel like a child who really needs some encouragement says something AWESOME in the target language, and you want to praise them, run up and put 20 points on the board. The kids will fall about with excitement and praise that student, and they will be chuffed to bits! If you feel that you have built a GREAT, positive, learning environment, and it is close to the end of the year, and everyone has LITERALLY NO affective filter because it disappeared because they are so comfortable in your room (tehehehe!) then every time you hear ANY English words, give yourself a whopping 50 points! OH BOY! Just wait til you see their faces!
So, what then!? What are these points adding to? What is the end goal?! That is up to you! In elementary and often times in middle school I never needed an end goal (at least for the first several weeks). They are happy as a class, just knowing that they beat the teacher. If you would like to reward them somehow or have an incentive at the end, here are some ideas:
(ES= Elementary School MS=Middle School HS= Highschool A=Adults)
- stickers at the end of class or end of the week for consecutive class wins: ES,MS,HS
- candy at the end of class or end of the week for consecutive class wins: ES,MS,HS,A
- 5 minute Mickey Short cartoon at the end of the week/month: ES,MS, HS
- GIANT PARTY at the end of the month if they beat the teacher at least 95% of the classes ES,MS,HS,A
and the list goes on and on…. I am sure you can think of other ideas!
So, how do you then TWIST this point system and make it NOVEL again!? Here are some ideas:
- Class vs. Class (I had 18 last year so this was entertaining to say the least)
- Grade level competitions
- Divide the room by countries and have the countries compete each day
- Girls vs. boys
For the first two, the reward was a BIG party for the winning grade level or class, whoever earned the most points gets the party. Here is a video of a seventh grade jeopardy party.
I know what you are thinking…. BUT HOW DO I TRACK IT IF IT IS ARBITRARY!? Don’t worry! ha! You don’t! We all know which class performs best at the end of any given month right?! And if you feel guilty and want to track it, DON’T! Have a student do it for you! YAY!
Go have fun! Points are arbitrary! They don’t know! Just go with it! and KEEP IT NOVEL!
Here is a link to a webinar with Fluency Matters that I’ll be leading on the 17th of January! Join me!
I will do more Classroom management posts with all my other ideas…. this is just the beginning…. tehehehe
La Maestra Loca