When it comes to incentives and awards for students, it can be one of a teacher’s best tools for getting the desired student behavior and student work achievements. However, teachers sometimes find it hard to have incentives and awards that students will actually want and therefore work toward. Depending on the length of time for the project, teachers can make the incentives and awards larger. For example, an incentive given out every day is not going to be as large or worthwhile as one that spans the entire quarter or semester.
If you teach elementary, an easy short term incentive is a sticker. Younger students get excited over the prospect of getting to choose a new sticker from a “treasure chest.” Just make sure you have a variety for the students to choose from so they won’t be disappointed. There are even incentive cards and charts available that you can give students and each time they reach a small goal give them a sticker or stamp. Once the card is filled up, you can let them pick something from the chest or some other reward.
Older students can always be bribed with small pieces of candy. Starbursts, or other like wrapped small candy, can be tossed to students. One way to guarantee even the most stubborn of students will raise their hand and answer a question during a test review or like project is to pull out a bag of candy and start tossing them to participants. It should be noted that some state laws do not allow teachers to give candy to students, so check before you start giving it out.
For a more long term goal, medals can be an effective tool. Announce at the beginning of a project that they will be given out to the best presentations and then put them on display for the students to see. As they work, they can always glance over and see the award display. Medals are also a good award to give students in your class who have received the highest grade in the subject.
Award certificates are another long term incentive or award. They can be given out for highest grade or even for a contest, such as who can read the most books or has the highest grade. Many schools will have award ceremonies at the end of semesters for these certificates. You can also make your own awards. If there is a big project, don’t just award them to the highest grade. Make an award for “most creative,” “best team player,” or anything else you can think of. Even if an older student won’t admit it, getting the certificate is pretty important to them.
What forms of incentive and awards have you shared with your students – and for what achievements? We’d love to hear from you!