Thursday, August 7, 2014

Recognizing Super Improvers!

Do you want all of your students to succeed in your classroom?  What should count as success? I'm going to share a story with you that put some things about education into perspective for me.
"Imagine if you were graded based solely on a sprint race. The person who won got an "A" and the person who lost got an "F".  You lost, so you receive the failing grade.  The next day you race again, and you lose.  The person next to you is faster than you.  Soon enough you will give up because there is no way you will catch him.  He will also stop trying as hard because he knows he is going to beat you. But what if the rules changed?  What if the person who beats his/her personal best by the most receives an A?  Then wouldn't both the slower and faster runner try even harder to improve?"
This is a scenario presented by Chris Biffle in his book, "Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids". What should our goal as teachers be?  Should it be to award the student that always scores well, or should we change our focus toward recognizing students for working to be "better than their best"?

My Super Improvers Board...NOT FINISHED YET!

After contemplating this, I decided to adopt Whole Brain Teaching's Super Improver Team.  At the
elementary level, each student has a card and gets stars on their card for improvement.  At the middle school level, teachers have too many students, so you can mark improvement based on classes.  Classes can gain stars for improvement academically or behaviorally. If the whole class improves their assessment scores, then they can receive a star.  You could give a star to the class for improving their speed at completing certain tasks.  You could even focus on a particular goal.  For example, your students may need to work on Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak. If the first day you have 5 students blurt out, but on Friday you have 0 students blurt out, maybe that class earns a star.

When a class gets 10 stars, they move up a level.  The goal is to reach the top.  My board is not finished, but you could have a theme for each level.  For example, the first level could be the Rookie level and the top level could be All Star.  There are several examples on TeachersPayTeachers!

The awesome part of this motivator is that the classes can see how other classes are doing.  They don't want other classes to get ahead of them, so they will work harder to show improvement as well!

Please go to or message me about how to implement this strategy further!  Good luck making a difference in the lives of your students!

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