Class Point System Question

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19 thoughts on “Class Point System Question”

  1. I used to do something to earn free time in class. But now, I figure we can have a class party if we feel like it. Like if I think the kids have been working hard, let’s have one. I’ve really adopted Ben and Tina’s organic way of teaching and it’s working for me.

  2. Last year I pulled off (barely). A May challenge –the class with the most minutes in the TL would have a party. I had a student job that would track the number of blurts per class and deducted half minutes. It worked somewhat but at this time of the year my 8th graders we’re ready to move on to high school. In the end however, I let everyone have a party since everyone did so well overall.

  3. While we are on the topic, a while ago I read this article in The Atlantic about how the rewarding system can backfire on the social-emotional development of the child. I remember during my first year teaching in an American school system I implemented the point system. I gave 2 point per class, 1 if it was good and 2 if it was superb. I kept a board with all the classes (K-8) and their respective points. They developed a sense of competition among them. While it was exciting, I never felt that was a reflection of authentic community building. At the end, 1st. Grade won a party (chocolate cake and juices for everybody). I don’t do that anymore. It feels fake, but that is me. I saw Annabelle doing that during IFLT 16 in Chattanooga in the language Lab and it seems it works for her. But the reading of this article that I am sharing, made me think that maybe there is another way to build that classroom community that makes everybody accountable without expecting a prize. I am constantly on the look out for that.

    1. Excellent point there Carmen. The competition can divide a class because there is pressure. I had a class not liking a certain student because he had a hard time with blurting in English.

    2. Thanks for sharing this article, Carmen.

      In my years teaching in inner city neighborhood high schools in Chicago, whenever I tried implementing some group competition activity it would get ugly real quickly. Students’ ugly sides came out. Some turned bossy. Others turned on their I-could-care-less attitudes. It’d get nasty.

      I think you have to have somewhat of a homogenous population of students to even attempt competitive activities. But then, as it may seem like the competition is motivating students, it’s really harming their social-emotional development on the inside, as you say, Carmen.

    3. Carmen this is beautiful. I have used points systems and not used them, in several different subject areas. But I agree that the absolute ideal is to have a super-engaging curriculum (such as, oh let’s say, the students’ lives, interests, ideas, and imaginations…) and a strong class community where kids WANT to communicate in the language.

  4. I am a huge believer in intrinsic motivation. And I also sometimes use point systems. I know, doesn’t make sense. I find that some groups can do this type of thing and keep it light and fun while others can’t and I don’t force it. It’s a bit unpredictable, and usually I start it out and see what happens. I already stopped it in one class.

    Currently I have a fantastic group of kids in a multilevel class (about 40% level 1 40% level 2 and the rest are level 3-4). They are digging the point system and it is helping them come together as a group. I’m doing the Annabelle style random points. I mostly award them for acts of kindness and inclusiveness. That always gets the most points, even more than “perfect execution” of classroom rules. Although “rule number 2 is a big priority!”

    This group just reached the 1000 points needed for the “fiesta day.” Today they had a class brainstorm about what they wanted to do. The process itself was so great! They were in groups of 3-4 brainstorming and then whole class shared out. I asked for a student volunteer to run the whole process, write on the board, etc. (Heck it was spa week, so why not stroll around the room smiling and oohing and ahhing at all the wonderful ideas?)

    The student running the whole group process used the “hola hola” call and response to get the group’s attention, and I have to say WOW they sure did a great job listening to each other, and when it came time to vote, there was an outspoken student trying to get ppl to vote a certain way. But the eyes closed private ballot shut her down. She was disappointed and very graceful in accepting the result.

    I feel like for this particular group the “point system” is having the desired effect of helping them come together as a group. I plan to come up with a different variation and focus for the next round. Based on some of the suggestions for the “party day” I chuckled because aside from the food, many of the activities they want to do are just the regular things we do anyway!!!

  5. Wow, I could go both ways after reading the responses here. I suppose using the point system to get me through the late September/October hurdle might actually bring the class together as I navigate the new territory of CI with them. They are used to the textbook from last year and may feel lost without the vocab lists and worksheets. Ben, you are right; if the admin sides with some parents, I will take out the textbook. I already lost a couple nights of rest thinking about this one class. ¡Basta!

    1. Oh man, Jeff this is a terrible position. I am just catching up a bit here, so forgive the delayed response. Remember that your #1 priority has to be your mental and physical health. I know, talk about heresy in the teaching profession. You are the only one who can try things and determine whether those practices enhance or detract from your health.

      I keep visualizing Ben with his hand high over his head saying “number one, my mental health” then he lowered his hand about to shoulder level and said “then the class community” then he extended his arm fully with the hand below his hip and said “then the language.”

      Especially in your situation you pick the one thing easiest for you! If it is a textbook, fine. Those kids are not going to learn either way, so might as well make it easy on you. Do you have a group of younger kids for whom CI is fun and working? If yes, then save your energy for them.

      1. Jen this comment is gold. It encapsulates the direction we want to go in in this work. I don’t know if you remember meeting Jeff in Portland but he is a stand-up guy with a great heart and he shouldn’t be going through this. He even has his own wine label. My goal on this site – and you understand it more than anything – is first and foremost as you describe it above, and only secondarily about becoming better practitioners of CI. Can I put this on FB?

        1. Thanks Ben, I approve of the Cascadians using my name on their wine! I decided to hold off on adding the point system because like everything else, I don’t feel comfortable using something I haven’t researched well. I did some easy grammar worksheets with them today, lecture style. They ate it up. As a novice CI teacher I sometimes feel drained from the CI methods. It’s okay to give myself a little break from CI. And although this one class is tough my other classes have been good. Part of it is the large class size in a tiny room. Btw, I used the jGR to really send a message to the students about their communication skills. After dropping their grades significantly, multiple students came up to me today to tell me they were going to do better so thanks for the great suggestions from the group. Tomorrow I am going to show them your little tornado OWI and story that I saved from the CI conference in Portland. I will explain to them more clearly how cool it was that we created this story together in French and that I want to create stories like this with them. Thanks!

      2. Jen, I will try and if I can’t get through to them, I will save my energy for my other classes that are eager to learn this way. I am glad it is just this one class.

  6. I dig the losing sleep deal. Don’t ask how many nights of sleep I lost – I would guess over the 38 years at least 200 – with those tough 4:00 a.m. “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life” thoughts. (The answer, I learned much later, is “whatever-God-wants”….) It was usually connected to some hard ass kid who never learned how to respect adults because of the overly permissive culture in our school buildings. And it is really difficult. I am so glad that jen wrote that above. It shows strength and flexibility. Which is why she is also a yogi.

  7. It’s such a tough call and Jeff must be in real stress on this. He doesn’t teach the younger ones, he needs to turn things around, the kids are being butts, it is very very stressful for him right now. I guess he will try the points and kind of weigh the benefits of each, points and rubric. We just need to keep in touch with him and he with us through this period. Welcome to October, campers! Now it gets real.

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