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30 Day Race for Presents

Teachers – What if I told you there was a single system that could handle most discipline problems, guarantee high student engagement in classroom activities, and ensure most, if not all, of your students turn in their homework every day? Read on, because all of this and more can be yours for one low price.

No, I’m not going to charge you for the information. However, the first thing you have to do is spend about $40. Every year I patiently wait for sales on games like Connect 4, Jenga, Monopoly, and Scrabble. I usually find them for about $6 each and I buy six of them. Then I wrap them in holiday themed wrapping paper and put them away until November.

By November my students have been with me for about two months and they have been schooled in the basics of cooperative learning. If you are unfamiliar with the basics of cooperative learning, my book should be out by next summer. I have about 35 children in each of my three classes and a fairly small classroom, so I usually end up with six groups of about six students each. If your situation allows for it, I strongly recommend four students per group and this setup will also save you a few dollars.

Check your school calendar and count backwards 30 school days from your last day before winter break. On that day, bring in those wrapped presents and prominently display them in your classroom for all to see. Also new and prominently displayed is a poster sized paper scoreboard on which daily group point totals will be posted. Tell the children that the one group in all your classes with the highest point total at the end of the 30 days will each receive a wrapped present.

My next step is to explain the point system to the students. Keep in mind that you have to strive to be consistent and fair in awarding points as the children will quickly detect any lapse in either. On the other hand I point out that I am the sole judge and all my decisions are final. I also tell them I am only human and I may miss some things or make some mistakes. Then I show them the leftmost quarter of the whiteboard that will serve as my daily tally board, where I have listed groups 1-6.

Next post - The Point System