Students today need motivation in order to want to learn and do their best.
In part 1, we discussed how the structure of the class can lead to motivation or mayhem.
In part 2, we discussed incentives, rewards, and things you can do outside of the classroom to motivate students.

2011 update

Math Bucks:
Students can earn math bucks for various reasons: A's, great effort, helping others, doing good deeds (in and out of math class), turning in work on time, etc. They can use the math bucks to buy passes and other small items.

Checking Account:
In order to spend the math bucks, students must create a checking account. They deposit the bucks and keep track of balance. When they want to buy something, they must calculate tax: 6% for 6th grade, 7% for 7th grade, and 8% for 8th grade. For 6th grade, they create a table for the tax amount (since multiplying decimals is not a a 6th grade tek). Periodically a discount is given for 7th and 8th graders. They are responsubke for keeping up with the checkbook register. I keep an electronic version in Excel for each student. I keep their order forms and deposit slips in a little folder. I will update Excel once a week. Since not all kids do it at the same time, it only takes a few minutes. There have been some years in which I did not do this. The kids did not know, and it was never abused.

new.jpg Direct Deposit- My 8th graders earn a direct deposit each week. I pay them 2% commission for their daily quiz mean. I am paying them for their grade. They calculate the amount of commission they earn, and I direct deposit the amount into their account. They log it in their form. I started this last year, and it really helped them to understand what commission was. Sometimes I put stipulations on it: grades >= 80, 90, etc. I also varied the commission rate at times.

Students can buy and earn various passes. The only pass they cannot buy is the Assignment pass. They can only earn this based on A's on benchmarks. They want that pass, so they work hard on the benchmarks!

Math Store:
The students are able to deposit their math bucks in their checking account, so they can buy different things. Some of our teachers only offer the passes and coupons for sale (never assignment passes). I have also bought little trinkets from Oriental Trading. They can only write a check for the items (this way no change is necessary). They can buy from the store during their own time. Some do it after they finish their work, during lunch, after school. I NEVER let them buy a homework pass the day the work is due.
Snack and Drink Coupon - $2.00
Homework Pass - $3.00
10 points added to Assignment - $5.00
5 points added to Test - $8.00

new.jpg Stars: NEW!!
Students earn stars for various reasons. For turning their weekly work in on time, they get a star on the star chart. 5 stars = 1 big star to hang in the hall. Big stars can also be earned for A's, improvement, and other reasons.

The class can earn a Class star for meeting or exceeding goals or completing the Reach for the Stars grid. The grid contains 500 blanks. When the students answer a "Reach for the Stars" question (review type questions), they shade in a grid for every person who got it correct. Once all 500 grids are filled in, they earn a class star. This allows for competition among the class periods. The students love to answer the review questions. They want to complete the grid.

new.jpgIncentive Roll: NEW!!
When the students earn 5 stars on the star chart, they get to participate in "Incentive Roll." They roll number cubes and get the prize that matches the sum on the cubes. You can also allow students to roll for other great accomplishments. Many of the prizes are the coupons or passes that are not additional cost to you.

We put on different fundraisers throughout the year to cover various expenses for the math class: incentive parties and TAKS goody bags. The fundraisers are small in nature, but the kids love them. They know that the money they spend on fundraisers will be given back to them in the form of incentives.
Water balloon dodgeball - $.50/balloon
Pies in the face - $.25/vote
Dance - $3.00/ticket, drinks, candy, nachos, glow novelty items (HUGE hit)
Outside incentives - Chuck E Cheese, Pizza Hut, Blockbuster

Incentive Parties:
We offer an incentive party each 6 weeks. Admission to the party consists of two things: 100% effort on benchmark (including justifications) and all work turned in (any missing work = no admission to party). The parties during the year take place during the math class, so the biggest incentive is no math that day! We offer a big incentive party at the end of the year in which we celebrate all day. We follow a point system to determine eligibility to the party. Students are always able to correct unacceptable behavior.
You can do parties that do not cost you any money - playing in the gym, watching a movie in the class, bringing a video game system and playing games. We have 2 big parties that we spend some of our fundraiser money on - Bounce Houses (1st and next to last). The last party takes all day. We plan this AFTER all STAAR tests are complete. We usually take the kids skating (they bring $3 - $5). We don't have any skating rinks in our area anymore, so we took them to the movies. They must have all work turned in, still giving effort in class, and gave 100% effort on the STAAR (including justifications-if time allows). Of course we don't look at their tests to verify this. I always give my kids a survey about a week after the test. I ask them if they felt prepared, anything else I could have done, did they work all problems, did they justify, do they deserve to go to the party. The kids are very honest. The only kids I don't ever take to the final party are the ones that have given nothing all year (1 or 2). If the survey shows they didn't justify all the problems, I will talk to the student, and tell them I may still let them go since they have worked hard all year, and they were honest.
STAAR Pep Rallies:
We pump up the football team so why not the academic team? We put on STAAR pep rallies to pump our kids up for the big test. They see us having fun and motivating them. They appreciate what we do for them, so they want to work hard for us!