Schools are generally much more positive environments than they used to be. Our school community (including students, teachers, parents, principal class, cleaners and visitors) has many opportunities for positive, constructive interaction.
Our aim is a ratio of six positives to every one negative. Of course the verbal comment giving recognition to effort, work process and product, and good work habits are still our mainstay. But we now add to this postcards sent home and raffle tickets.
This token economy system uses operant conditioning to reward positive behaviour on the spot with a special stamped raffle ticket. Students may redeem these at the end of the week at a shop stocked with various goods.
I wondered whether students would see “Dungeons and Dragons” type trading cards as positive rewards. Z became very excited telling about a card game called Yu-Gi-Oh. He said he would bring his cards in next lesson. I talked to a younger Maths teacher who knew all about the game and told me you could make your own Yu-Gi-Oh cards online. Here are some of the cards I made:
Student T. had just finished five scale drawings and had measured lengths and angles accurately. I announced to the whole class that T. had been awarded the “Accuracy Des Koala” Yu-Gi-Oh card. T. put Des Koala proudly on her work desk with a big smile.
Student S. always works hard in class, asks questions, uses good manners and has excellent work habits. I announced to the class that S. had earned “Goblin Worker” I again got a positive reaction from the class and the Year 10 student concerned.
Student J. had finally mastered identifying the sides of a right triangle. He was pleased to get the “Hippopotenuse” card.
Some brainstorming in the Maths staffroom resulted in the following card which we hope a lot of students will want because of its design, power, and the difficult? challenge to get it!
It is early days in trialling this reward system, but feedback from students has been great so far. Some of the students want to design their own cards. Other students have stories they want to tell about trades, games, best cards, etc.
I enjoy creating the cards. I hope they encourage students to improve their Maths skills and work habits. The cards I have designed so far are:
01 Accuracy Des Koala 08 Homework Hedgehog
02 Mathematician 09 LOL Cat
03 SohCahToa 10 OnDemand Test Magician
04 Hippopotenuse 11 OnDemand Penguin Soldier
05 Fraction Learner 12 Correction Des Kangaroo
06 Power Spell Maker 13 Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World
07 Goblin Worker 14 Punctual Possum
What do you think of this idea? What methods of positive reinforcement do you use?