Online “Incentives”

In my classroom I use ClassDojo as a point system for behavior BUT ALSO for academics!! Every time students turn in an assignment I also give away points. Students answer a question, they get a point! I tell them their points show us how hard they had been working for that day!

Especially at the beginning of the school year I give away points for EVERYTHING… wow, good listening, POINT! (Online Learning) Wow, super fast muting, POINT! Helping out a friend, POINT! Following directions quickly, POINT! Reading the whole time (for 30 seconds…lol), POINT! Completing your work, POINT! Helping me “Read the Pictures”, POINT! Literally all day I am making it rain “points”. To the extent that EVERYONE should earn their sticker at the end of each day.

I use Whole Brain Teaching’s Super Improver Wall. The thought behind the wall – is at the end of the day each student reflects on how they did, then they determine if they did their best, had a great day, whatever language you use, to determine if they earned a sticker for their Super Improver Star. The student starts at the Beginners Level Star… after earning 10 stickers, they move to the next level: Learner. They continue moving levels: Team Leader, Team Captain, M.V.K. (Most Valuable Kid), Whiz Kid, Specialist, Pro, Super Star and finally GENIUS! Of course our goal by the end of the year is to be a GENIUS!

BUT I found that with my kinders (especially the ones that were my “barometer” kids – the kiddos that “set the weather” of the classroom) they were having troubles determining if they truly earned their sticker. And especially at the beginning of the year, it was hard for me to have conversations with them with out concrete evidence to show/talk about with them. Then about 7 or 8 years ago now… (WOW, it really has been that long), I introduced ClassDojo (shout out to my big brother who attended an EdTec Conference and introduced me to ClassDojo when it was still “new”) and this gave me a concrete way to “reward” points, as well as give “reminders” to students.

(Slight tangent…) I like ClassDojo because it is completely customizable! If you’d like to add specific reasons why you give away points you can! Personally, I just use a single thumbs up +1 option, mostly because I turn over the “power” to give points over to my students. I tell them how many they have earned and then they are able to add their points (either on the SmartBoard OR on an iPad I keep at my desk – we are usually using the SmartBoard to do GoNoodles when I am giving away points, so this makes it easier!).

I like it because you can also add thumbs down options to – either making a -1 OR even a 0 – so it records their “redirections” and you can reference it later, or it will take away a point. Now I don’t just give away minus points for anything… it needs to be multiple times that I have SPECIFICALLY talked to the child about THAT thing. And I really REALLY REALLY try not to give away any “minus points” the first few weeks of school – I focus on redirecting, talking it out, giving alternatives to behaviors, providing practice, etc. But I found that after allllllll of those things are tried, a minus point still makes a big enough impact, that my kiddos know its not okay. Now when my kiddos get a minus point, they have to sit down with their head down during play time for 1 minute. And let me tell you… a minute it not long, but it feels like eternity for little ones. So it is PLENTY of time. I also have a conference with the little one, asking: Why did you get a minus point today? What can you focus on/change for tomorrow? And I always end my conferences with, I LOVE you, but I did not like what you did. And ask if they want/need a hug or a handshake. Most take a hug, and you can tell they really needed it! Then ask them where they would like to play, and they are off having some fun, interacting with their peers. I think this conferencing really helps them focus on what happened and coming up with a plan that will help improve.

Back to my Online Incentives…

Every time students earn 10 stickers on their star, I take down their star and they get a “NEW” star color! Then I mail them a SURPRISE!! Each time it is different! After the Beginner (the first Super Improver Star) star, I am sending them my Mini Ms. Friedl Bitmoji (laminated of course!) inspired by Flat Stanley.

Bitmoji Image

And a Free Choice Board with adventures/ideas to do with their Mini Ms. Friedl.

I have even created a letter to send with:

And I sent them a smaller envelope that is already address, so they can write me back (or send me a picture)! I also will be sending their star with all their stickers on it in the envelope for them to keep at home as well!

I am SO excited to see what my kiddos do with it this year! At the end of last year, I used my Mini Ms. Friedl’s as a way to STAY connect to my kiddos even though we were out of the classroom because of Covid-19. So this year, this will, hopefully (cross fingers) be a way to MAKE connections with kiddos, even if I’m not really there with them!

Other ideas I’ve had for future “Surprise Mail”:

  • Fancy Pencils/Holiday Pencils
  • Fun Mini Erasers
  • A piece of artwork I’ve drawn specifically for them (if they LOVE dinosaurs… or princesses) with some sequins in the envelope for extra fun!
  • I’ve also heard of teachers send their littles a happy meal from UberEats! (WHAT?!?)
  • Lunch (online) with the teacher
  • Request a Read Aloud – let them request a Favorite book you could read aloud the class
  • Choose the Tune – Play a Favorite GoNoodle (or Song) of theirs… just for them! (or do it with the whole class!)
  • Send some Stickers (holiday, favorite animal/color, etc)
  • Art Session – Send them a Coloring Page & Color it “together” online (print out one for you too!)
  • Do a fun Experiment (this one could be tricky…) but you could send them a Mentos – (they sell individually packaged ones as DollarTree) and ask the parents to provide the DIET soda. ***WARN PARENTS to do it OUTSIDE*** then let them drop the Mentos in & see what happens!! OR send them 2 popsicle sticks, a rubber band & a marshmallow/PomPom & make a catapult (rubber band the sticks together towards the end, wedge a pencil in between them, then catapult the PomPom across the room – you could even send a “target” printed out on a piece of paper for them to practice with)
  • Small Readers
  • Special Postcard with Scratch Off Stickers with hidden QR codes to Unlisted/Private Youtube Videos you created just for them!! (I do this with my Birthday Postcards!! Sending each kiddo a specialized message of me singing (along with a singing bear… so its more fun! And here is my *kind of* embarrassing video example!) happy birthday!)

I’m sure there are MANY more ideas!

As always, if you have questions or more ideas, please leave a comment below!

Published by KinderKidatHeart

Hi! My name is Katie Friedl and I have taught Kindergarten in Chicago for 13 years. It is not always easy, but its worth it! I will be writing about by tips and tribulations about teaching K in Chicago. Stay tuned to be inspired (hopefully... crossing my fingers) and probably even get a little giggle... at my expense I'm sure!

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