Getting the Most Out of Ticket Jar

I received free products from Oriental Trading Company in exchange for sharing my thoughts on this blog.

As a teacher, I have found that the more positive praise I do, the less negative I have to deal with. One of the best systems I have used is my ticket jar system. Most people have probably heard of a form of this. I do ticket jar every Friday. It’s a good system for me because it can be individual incentive and group incentive. Here are 3 tips we’ve come up with:

All Roads Lead to Rome: At first it seems like I have tons of different positive incentives, table points, house points, class rock party points, class activity time points, individual tickets. It is true, but the beauty is that these “different” systems all come back to tickets. (That will make things so much easier on you as a teacher., I promise)

Here is an example: My students sit in tables. They earn points for their table by transitioning quickly, working well together during a project, all turning in certain assignments. At the end of the day, whichever table has the most points, each person gets 2 tickets.  (Table points convert to tickets!)

Another example: If I have an important paper that I need signed and brought back, I use tickets to bribe students to take it home, get it signed, and brought back. Works every time!

Let Ticket Jar Feed Itself: I encourage students to make donations of toys they don’t want or random items that their parents are willing to buy at the dollar store. When they make a donation, I give them a ticket just for donating. Also, I promise them that I will put their ticket back if I pull it on that item. Mindy didn’t do this her first year and ran out of cool prizes really fast. Then she had no budget (of course!) for replenishing it, so it didn’t have near the power to motivate her students.

Be Cheap: It can be expensive handing out things each week. Here are a few tips on that too:

  1. Get students to donate (as mentioned above).
  2. Collect “cool rocks” on all your vacations, hikings, adventures, whatever. I teach 6th grade and they are really into a neat rock!
  3. Oriental Trading Company: They have cheap bundles of items. You can buy big mixed packets or a specific item that you know will be a winner. I recently bought a huge bag of sticky hands for less than ten bucks and I am pretty sure it will last the whole year!
  4. Dollar Stores and Thrift Stores: Dollar stores often have packs of pencils or candy. Just figure out the unit price to decide if it’s a good deal! If you get something from a thrift store, make sure it is clean or better yet, still packaged!
Advertisements

End of the Year Interview

End of the Year Interview stickerThis year, I conducted “interviews” with my second grade class (ages 8-9). I gave them 5 simple questions to respond to. The questions were:

  1. What makes a teacher cool?
  2. What can kids do over the summer to not forget everything they learned that year?
  3. If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?
  4. What advice would you give to kids who will be in second grade next year?
  5. What do you think teachers do during the summer?

Here is the PDF version you can use for your class: End of the Year Interview. (Just change the fourth question to say whatever grade you will teach next year.)

Here are some of my favorite responses:

Question #1: What makes a teacher cool?1 - rock star glasses

 

Question #2: What can kids do over the summer to not forget everything they learned that year?2 - write a book 2 - write and keep 2- swimming makes you think 3 - in my head

 

Question #3: If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?3 - clean playground for teachers

Obviously that’s why teachers don’t play on the playground themselves – it’s not clean enough? 😉 

 

Question #4: What advice would you give to kids who will be in second grade next year?
4 - do your best 4 - give teachers stuff 4 - good and quiet 4 - have fun

True, fun is not optional.

 

Question #5: What do you think teachers do during the summer?
5 - eat food 5 - hang out 5 - hot summer 5 - prep not fun 5 - sleep

Nailed it!

Online Teaching Conference 2015

I recently attended another conference, the Online Teaching Conference. Held at the San Diego Convention Center, it covered a wide variety of topics from increasing participation in online classes to free tech tools to group work in distance education classes. I’m assuming that most teachers in America (of the world, for that matter) don’t teach courses exclusively online. However, many of the ideas presented there are applicable to any teaching arena.

Online Teaching Conference

The topic I found the most interesting was the conversation about group work.  One of the suggestions was to encourage the group to not only do an “ice breaker” at the start of their team experience, but to also explore what roles each member would have in the group. After the students discuss roles, teachers can have the group decide on group rules and expectations.  This is especially important for a long-term project.

One of the teachers presenting talked about how they have their students turn in a “group expectations” page detailing what the group expected of its members. The presenter said that while they give the group a grade for turning in the page, they don’t necessarily grade the group on how closely they actually stick to their original expectations. This is often because the students set unrealistic expectations for the group. On a number of assignments, the presenter said he asks his students to revise their expectations document part-way through the project so they can make their guidelines more realistic. The presenter indicated that the times when he provides this kind of group support to his students, the groups usually do better, produce higher quality projects and get along better.

This idea makes so much sense! But, I had never thought of it! Learning how to function in a group (that you can’t always choose) is an essential skill in today’s world, and we as teachers can do a lot to help teach our students how to be a good group members.

What have you learned about working with groups (in your experience as a student or as a teacher)? Comment below!

Digital Media Educator’s Conference

DMEC stickerA few months ago, I attended the Digital Media Educator’s Conference in California. (Yes, it’s taken me forever to write about it!) There was a wide range of workshops focusing on everything from technology tools and tricks to business and industry-related topics. I learned a lot from the conference, but there’s one thing that stood out to me as a “must share” resource. Drum roll please…

Adobe Education Exchange! This is a collection of free resources, expertise, and opportunities for educators of all ages (early childhood – higher education). It’s got a variety of support for educators: everything from instructional resources, professional development, and peer-to-peer collaboration. I’ve poked around a bit and what I’ve found is pretty cool. I definitely need to spend more time exploring everything they’ve got.

What do you think? If you’ve explored Adobe Education Exchange, please comment below!

End of the Year Awards (#Awards for Upper Grades)

It’s that time of the year… time for end-of-the-year classroom awards! This time, I’ve chosen a social media theme . I call these “Hashtag Awards” (Follow me on Twitter!). There are 45 ready-to-go awards and a blank one for you to get creative with! They’d be perfect for upper graders, who think they’re too cool for the rest of the fun, cheesy elementary school stuff. (Also check out my other collection of end-of-the-year awards!) Here are a few awards from the collection:

Hashtag Award 1 Hashtag Award 2

Click here to download the 46 page collection: End of Year Awards – Hashtag Collection

Like what you see? Poke around some more! Support my blog by checking out my other posts and the advertisers who sponsor me. 🙂

 

#WhatIWishMyTeacherKnew (Learning About Your Students)

I recently learned about a project launched by a Colorado teacher, Kyle Schwartz, called #WhatIWishMyTeacherKnew. The main ideas is that this third grade teacher didn’t feel like she knew them very well or how to support them. She asked her students to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…”. The students’ responses were honest and highlight the struggles in their lives and the importance of truly connecting with our students. Here are some articles about the project:

How #IWishMyTeacherKnew can help teachers support students – Christian Science Monitor

Students Share What They Wish Their Teacher Knew – Huffington Post

Colorado Teacher Shares Heartbreaking Notes From Third Graders – ABC News

I Wish My Teacher Knew’: Social movement sparked after teacher shares heartbreaking notes from third graders – FOX News

I think this is a great idea! It’s important to know what your students are struggling with so you can find ways/resources to help them. If you do this exercise with your class, and are comfortable sharing the results, join other teachers on Twitter by using the hashtag #whatiwishmyteacherknew. i wish my teacher knew STICKER Use this printable to collect your answers if you’d like: I wish my teacher knew

Shape Fractions (Introduction to Fractions)

Shape fractions STICKER

There are tons of ways to introduce fractions. But no matter how you do it, you need to help students understand that you’re looking at part of a whole. Here’s a page I’ve used with my class (focusing on the numerator). I do this type of activity before I ask kids to draw both parts (numerator and denominator). Hope you’re having a fabulous school year!

Click here for the free printable PDF: Shape Fractions

Onomatopoeia Game for K-2

Onomatopeia PreviewI’m so thrilled to be blogging over at We Are Teachers! They’ve got tons of great ideas over there. My third post was an onomatopoeia game for grades K-2. It’s a really simple idea, but your kids will love it!

Click here to view my post and get the printable!