Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Managing Extra Practice Work

I always like to have a go to activity for my students to use when they have completed their written assignments. I generally use a game and/or manipulatives-based activity for my math and literacy activities. However, there are other times (morning journals, Social Studies/Science Centers, etc...) when I need something for them to do if they finish early. I keep baskets of books on their tables for this purpose. However, last year I decided to add something more.

I wanted to make extra practice work available to my students. I generally make a couple of extra copies of the practice sheets we use during the week. I started collecting extra sheets after activities were completed. At the end of each week I began putting the extra pages into a tub. The tub was gold colored, so we began calling the extra work "Gold Tub Work."

Last year I just had my students take the extra practice pages home when they were finished. I began noticing that my students were not putting forth their best effort on this work, and I wasn't happy about sending home the ungraded papers. I knew that I needed a better way to manage this work and encourage my students to put forth more effort.

This past summer I watched  The "Pizza Papers" video on teachertipster.com. Mr. Smith puts extra practice pages into a basket. He has the students mark the pages with a "P" for Pizza Pages (I put a "G" on mine for Gold Tub) so they won't get confused with regular assignments. When the students finish the pages they put them into a pizza box. At the end of the month he pulls out a page. If the paper is done neatly and correctly the student wins a prize. I'm assuming that after he pulls a winner he discards the extra pages.

This was the idea I was looking for! I decided to start pulling my pages twice a week so my students would see the rewards quickly. I pull a page each Wednesday and Friday. I've used pencils, inexpensive toys, and bookmarks as prizes. I'm also working on some prizes that don't cost anything (lunch with a friend in another class, extra play time, an extra trip to the library, etc...). So far I have seen great results. Thanks Teacher Tipster!


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