Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The 4th Nine Week's Slump

No breaks from January to April. Testing, testing, & more testing. Warm sunshine & blue skies. The anticipation of those last few days of school. What do each of these have in common...?

They all play a part in the inevitable and dreaded "4th nine week's slump." By April of each year, I can pretty much count on lower grades, less motivation, and sky high energy among my students. This year I wanted to try something new to help combat the daily struggle that accompanies our dwindling days of school.

Our school is a data driven school, and our students love healthy competition. When thinking of what I could do to get the kids re-motivated, I knew I could use these aspects of CRMS to my advantage. When I recently visited my cousin's high school language arts class, an idea that incorporated data, friendly competition, and fun finally came to me!

I popped in to observe my cousin's classes on a day that he happened to be celebrating a recent high test average. When the class average on a test is a 90 or higher, he gives them a "trivia day." He develops a fun, educational trivia game, and the students are able to choose groups and play as a reward for their hard work on the assessment. I absolutely loved this idea, and I knew there was a way to incorporate it into my middle school classroom.

So, here's what I came up with: THE LEADERBOARD!

With this board, I'm keeping up with four things for each class. 

1. Current Class Average - Each time I add grades to the grade book, I update the new class average. (This is super easy with the PowerTeacher online grade book used by our district....all the numbers are crunched for you!) 
2. Class average on the most recent test/quiz - First, note that I don't use classwork or homework for this. I'd be changing it ten times a day! After entering grades for an assessment into my online grade book, I update the class average on the board. 

- I use three stars (first place, second place, and third place) as a visual for students to see which class average is in the lead. 
- At the interim and report card, the class with the highest average will win a trivia day. 
- I didn't want to give a trivia day every time a class made a 90 or higher average on an assessment because I felt that would take away too much instructional time. Instead, when a class gets a 90 or higher average on an assessment, they receive a half day word game day (such as Scrabble, Apples to Apples, etc.). 

Below, I've included a close up picture of one class:.

3. The top three highest averages for each class - I don't list the actual average, I just list the names of the students with the highest three averages in the class. 
4. Honorable Mention - I give honorable mention to the student who raises his/her grade the most between assessments. (ex. Student A scored a 60 on last week's quiz but made a 100 this week. She increased by 40 points - more than anyone else in the class!)

- If more than one student has the same average (ex. 3 of my students have 100 averages), I let them tie for first place. 
- At the interim and the report card, the top three students will receive the opportunity to exempt a quiz, classwork, or homework assignment of their choice. 
- There is no reward for the honorable mention, but I am finding that the students who appear here usually don't appear in the other slots. They are SO proud to have their name on the leader board; it really works to motivate them to continue raising their grades. 

Below, I've included a close up picture of one class:.

We've only been using it a few weeks, but so far it's working like a charm. Not only are my students motivated, they are feeling a sense of responsibility for their participation and effort as members of a class. All of my classes have improved their averages, and for the first time in a while, I'm seeing them really put effort into studying!


No comments:

Post a Comment