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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Finally, some motivation that works!!

I think I have finally struck upon some valid motivation for one of my super-low kids!!

Let me explain the back-story. This kid is heavy-set, academically low, a talker, a player, a does-not-pay-attentioner, and generally all-around "slug." On the first math test, this kid got a 20-something. On the second math test, he got a 17. And these were not hard math tests, or unfair tests. He just was not trying at all, and it showed.

Conversely, a lot of my other kids HAVE been picking it up and trying harder. I am finally starting to get through to them that paying attention and doing their work the way we practice in class really CAN help them get the right answers and get better grades.

In my morning class, every single one of my kids who had scored low on the first test dramatically improved their grade on the second test, and the kids who had done well on the first test, also did well on the second.

In my afternoon class, which contains the "slug" (and several others), there wasn't quite the same dramatic results, but there were a few kids who improved and several others who passed both tests.

So I decided to make a really big deal about this. At the very beginning of school, I had gotten stacks of "Buy one adult meal, get a kid's meal free" cards from Denny's, Golden Corral, and Popeye's. So I took the time to fill them out with the kids' names, my name, our school name, etc along with the phrase "Math Improvement!" if they had improved their score, or "Math Skills!" if they had passed both tests.

I gave these out on Tuesday. Everybody in my first class got one, and they loved it. Somewhere around 60% of my second class got one, as there were still several kids with very poor grades.

On Wednesday, my "slug" started paying attention. He was raising his hand to answer questions. Correctly!! He brought the homework in on Thursday morning with work shown and completed. The kids took the 6-weeks cumulative assessment on Thursday, and this kid, while not having everything correct, had work shown for every question. He had labeled his coins, he had shown me his addition when he needed to, he had drawn place value charts.

When I graded the tests, I found that this "slug" -- who had made a 20-something on his first test, and a 17 on the second -- had scored an 80 on the 6-weeks test. An EIGHTY!!

Now maybe the planets aligned just right for him to finally get with the program. Maybe something I said about effort finally seeped through.

But I have a feeling it was the idea of free food that finally jump-started his engine.

And you know what, I'm ok with that.

Somebody will definitely be getting a Golden Corral coupon come Monday morning.


Melissa B. said...

Ah, the kid's catching on. It's funny to me, though, that the Gold Corral would do it. My kids, who probably would eat a cheeseburger off the garage floor, can't stand GC. They call it the Dry Corral. But you know what? A treat is a treat, even if it's a joint that keeps its food on the steam tables even longer than Luby's. In fact, I think GC might just buy their food from Luby's after it's been sitting around there for a couple of days...

ShortWoman said...

The path to a man's brain is clearly through his stomach!

mindsinbloom said...

Well how cool is that! I know kids are supposed to be intrinsically motivated, but we live in the real world and many aren't, so I think it is great that you found something that works. Seems like now that he knows he can do it, he might just keep working, even if the hamburger reward isn't always there. But that might be naive thinking on my part.

HappyChyck said...

Food motivates students of all ages! I think my district lost prime bribery opportunities when they decided we could not give out candy in our classrooms, but then and they continued to serve horrible lunches and restrict the sales of junk food from the vending machines.

Jennifer's Blogs said...

Loved your story. Glad that you found something that worked for this kid.