Friday, June 28, 2013

Tweaking a Great Idea

Often I read such great ideas on a blog that I'm inspired to implement them immediately into my own classroom.  Such is the case with a post I read from Tammy in Forever in First last year! (Thanks, Tammy!)

It was very simple: offer a challenge to the kiddos during writing such as "use quotation marks."  

Once kids implemented the strategy, (which could be something you just taught or a review...possibilities are endless!) they would sign their name on the board as proof they accepted the challenge.  A great motivator! Here's an example of one I did where I asked them to use an exclamation mark in their writing:

While I loved the idea, my execution hit a few bumps in the road. Like....the kids swarmed to the board all at once.  Yep- a long line formed at the board and they were waiting there instead of actually at desks writing, etc.  Changing over to writing initials (much quicker!) only helped a bit as did waiting until the END of the writing session to go to the board.  NOTE: I should also say that my room is so tiny that a line anywhere except by the door is not a good idea! 

The problem with waiting to write names at the end of the writing period was that the kids wanted immediate satisfaction to show they used the strategy. They wanted that immediate pat on the back.  Who can blame them?

Since I used this technique several times a week (in all subject areas) I knew I needed to rethink how I did it but pushed it back to the area of my brain that's labeled, "Summer Projects."

Well, it's summer now!  So, while visiting my brand-spanking new Dollar Tree that opened up oh, so close to my house, I came across these for four for a dollar:

My mind raced!  I knew they'd be just the tweak I needed!  I'm going to place them in their baskets on top of their desk and they'll just have to grab one and put it on their name tag whenever they complete the challenge. I'll be able to immediately see who's done what was asked and the kiddos can easily get back to work.  It will cut down on the distractions while achieving the same goal.

I can use them like Yes/No cards, too!  Ah, the possibilities! I really see them coming in handy during my Guided Reading Groups.  When I'm working with one group, I can scan the desks to see the trophies and know what the kids have been up to, who needs help, etc.  OR- kids can even use them with each other as a nonverbal signal.  Think about it: 

"Class, if you are done with your work and need a buddy to read with, put your trophy out today."

Kids can quickly look around the room from their seat and see a buddy in need of a partner.  No more, "Are you ready to buddy read?" or things like that.

Fingers crossed that they work like a charm!

UPDATED JULY 2015:  I use these ALL THE TIME and they are WONDERFUL!  Effective!!!  In every observation I've had in last two years, my observer has written about it and has been just as enthused. Again, a huge shout out to Tammy for her inspiration!!


  1. Not that it matters, but that might have been my post that inspired you?
    Even if it wasn't, I like what you were able to do with it. We teachers are great modifiers!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Tammy! YES! It was your post!! Thanks! I will modify post to include link! I so appreciate it! Happy summer! (And thanks for the great idea/inspiration!)

  3. What a super idea! I love it!


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