Scoreboard Success!

06 September 2015
     Ever feel like your kids are looking at you with their mouths wide open, eyes drooped, and occasionally you will see a bugger picker or drooler out in the crowd? I know for most of us the answer is yes. 

     I learned early on during my internship that students were not going to perform to the level I desired them to unless there was some sort of external reward. Sure, there are always some students who have an intrinsic motivation, but when they are rewarded, they usually LOVE showing it off. 

     My first year teaching, I had my class place #17 overall in the U.S. on Scootpad. Last year, I pushed my students to master their math facts, and I encouraged one to master multiplication AND division (second grade). I feel like I know a thing or two about motivation. I've been successful at it. Some need rewards more than others, and some don't need any at all. But here's the thing, deep down inside each and everyone of us, we want to be the best. We want to kick butt and show off our success. We are all naturally competitive in one way or another. 

     Recently our administration had asked each team to come up with a scoreboard. They want all of the teachers to push the students into achieving great things and show it off. We decided to push the kids in math facts because it gets tough and it gets BORING! Here's what says about it:

     "A central problem in education is that kids can become bored, sometimes with surprising speed, with any learning activity. What mesmerized them in September puts them to sleep in November. The technical name for this is habituation. When students become habituated to a learning experience, they respond with less and less vigor to what had previously been highly stimulating. Thus, we need lots of ways to introduce novelty, motivating novelty, into our instruction. The Scoreboard is a central feature of Whole Brain Teaching classrooms. Experienced WBT educators use the Scoreboard as a continuous motivator for on task, bell to bell, maximally engaged students." 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating a scoreboard for your team and/or classroom:

Tip 1: Find what subject or task you have the most trouble getting kids to focus on. It could be something academic like writing or something procedural like packing up. Choose what you and your students struggle with the most to help you both stay on track. 

Tip 2: Don't keep a scoreboard for every little thing. Focus on only the big stuff. Two or three scoreboards max or trust me, you will either forget to keep score or you will want to scream trying to keep up with all of the scoreboards. 

Tip 3: Try to make it teacher versus students. For example, if I want to create a scoreboard for transitioning quickly, I would tell the students that if they are ready to start with materials out, voices off, etc. by the time the bell rings, then they get a point. However, if they are not, then I get a point. Whoever reaches a certain number first wins! 

Tip 4: Get creative! My daughter's kindergarten teacher had a cute scoreboard to measure how many word lists each student learned. She cut out gum ball machines from construction paper. Literally, it was a red triangle and a blue circle taped together. She hung these gum all machines on the wall and every time a student mastered a new list, they got a circle sticker in their machine. By the end of the year, she gave students real gum balls according to the amount they had in their machine. You could also do this with reading or writing levels and ice cream scoops. 

Tip 5: Whatever you do, do not announce the child's level to the class. You should only measure the growth! For example, you are creating a scoreboard for reading levels. If a student is way below in reading, measure how many levels of growth that child has made. Let's say they started on a level B and ended the school year at a level L. That's 10 reading levels! Seeing that number encourages them, and trust me, students that struggle need the most encouragement of all! 

     The most important tip is to just try it! If you feel like it's not working, ask yourself what you could do to make it more enjoyable for yourself and your students. 

      Finally, my gift to you is my FREE scoreboard pennant. Make it a centerpiece in the room to remind your students that they have a goal. I have no doubt that they will want to crush it! 

Written by: Sarah Barnett, second grade teacher, owner of Barnett's Bubbles

No comments