September 10, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday - Table Challenge

Today I want to share a teaching tip I learned from one of the teachers I'm working with this year. The group I'm with this year is very chatty during the last two periods of the day. I know it has something to do with the fact that they're coming from lunch, which always gets them talking... but it's not a good time of day for them to lose their focus because it's when we go to math and science.

It's one thing for us to reward students on an individual level, as I suggested with my classroom management apps. And, of course, the 100 chart encourages good choices for the class as a whole. But the table challenge is a great way to reward students for making good choices within their small groups. I feel this is important because peers have more influence over each other in small groups where there is more accountability.

Table Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Record each table number on a popsicle stick.
  2. Set a specific start time for the Challenge to begin.
  3. If any student is breaking the rule, remove that table's stick from the group.
  4. At the end of class, select a popsicle stick from the remaining table numbers and reward the entire table with a Brain Booster or other reward that you use in your classroom. 
Anyone who works in a middle school can tell you the power of peer pressure, and I've already talked about how easily I can convince my students to do pretty much anything with a piece of candy. With this management tip, you get the benefit of positive peer pressure for a small reward.

I can tell you that when we started the table challenge yesterday, our noisy classroom became silent. Today, while we were cutting and pasting a foldable for the entire period, our students actually asked if we could do a challenge. They LOVE it!

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