I have decided that one way or the other, my students this year will have some sort of measurable growth. So far, here in the third week of the school year, many of them are choosing NOT to exercise their "brain muscle," and so I'm not sure how much mental growth they'll be displaying.
However, for these kids especially, there will definitely be physical growth -- I decided last week to begin implementing push-ups in the classroom. Already I could tell that taking away minutes from recess or taking away prize potential wasn't having much of an effect on some of these kids. So I've adopted the mentality of "drop and give me ten."
I have a feeling that a few of these kids might be resembling Conan the Third-Grader before the school year is over, if they keep on their current pace.
Today turned out to be a push-up bonanza when we graded our place value test from last week. I have my own policy for test grading. Really early in my teaching career, I got tired of handing tests back with grades on them and then seeing hardly any kids paying attention as we went over the questions together. So I decided to do things slightly differently. When I grade the tests, I don't put any marks on them -- I just record the grade in my gradebook. So when I hand the tests back to the kids, I tell them that I already know the grades. We're going to grade them together, and when we're done, I'm going to ask them what grade they got. If their grade matches my grade, then I'll know that they were paying attention. If their grade DOESN'T match my grade, then I'll know they were NOT paying attention -- and they'll owe me 25 push-ups.
After having explained all of that up front, I was amazed this morning at how many kids received a workout for their pecs. In my second class, THIRTEEN OUT OF TWENTY-ONE did not have the correct grade on their paper!! And what's worse, half of them got up laughing and talking about how much they love to do push-ups.
Maybe it's time to introduce push-up's twin brother, sit-up. And if that doesn't work, it'll be time for push-up's redheaded step cousin, leg lifts...