Middle School Student Reward Ideas

Although I'd love it if all of my students are always intrinsically motivated in class, it just doesn't happen as often as I'd like. For the times when my students need a little extrinsic motivation (or when a student goes above and beyond on their own), I like to have a few options on hand to reward individual students.

Rewards for Individual Students
  • A call or email home about the great things the student did in class: This means a lot to many students and is a wonderful way for a teacher to build a connection with the families. I try to use this reward for my most difficult students who don't often hear about the good things they do.
  • Extra credit: I use this sparingly so the grades are still a true reflection of the concepts students have mastered during the year.
  • Candy: This is always a winner.
  • Homework passes: Students value the time they spend outside of school and are grateful to get an occasional break from homework.  Here are some free homework passes I created.
  • Stickers: I'm always surprised by how much middle school students love stickers. I don't know if it is because I get super excited about stickers myself and that influences them or if they just plain love stickers. Also, middle school students like to wear their stickers on their faces (FYI).
  • Books: Even though I teach science, I still like to give books to my students. During the summer I try to stock up on the very inexpensive books that can be found at garage sales.
  • Choosing the music played during class: When students work on projects or assignments in class I like to play music in the background. Students love choosing the music themselves. Just make sure the student understands that the chosen music must be school appropriate.
  • Allowing food during class: In my classroom, snacking during class is generally a no go, so when students can have food they get pretty excited about it. Students can bring in their own snacks, but I don't allow them to share the food unless they make arrangements with me beforehand and bring enough for everyone. 

When to Use These Rewards
  • As a prize for the winners of review games
  • When a student gives a particularly thoughtful response to a question
  • When a student is spotted doing something especially kind for others
  • Attending tutoring outside of class time
  • Consistent effort during class
  • When a student goes above and beyond on an assignment
  • When a student is particularly helpful to a substitute teacher

I hope these ideas work for your classroom and your students!  Remember to check out the free homework passes in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

 Free Homework Pass

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Secondary Half Way Sale from Study All Knight Teacher Resources

Celebrate a successful first semester and the beginning of a great new year! Find secondary resources on sale on December 31st and January 1st. My store will be 15% off during these two days. Check out the link below to see a list of stores that will be on sale.

Study All Knight Teacher Resources: Link Up! Secondary Half Way Sale! December 31st an...: An InLinkz Link-up

FREEBIE Friday 4

Check out these free resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.  This week all of the freebies are activities.

1. U.S. Landmarks Web Quest by Gail Hennessey
Middle school social studies students will enjoy learning about America's landmarks in this web quest activity.

2. Multiplication Board Games by Games 4 Gains
Elementary students can use these two games to practice their multiplication facts in centers.

3. Qualitative and Quantitative Observations Activity by Elly Thorsen
Middle school science students will have fun practicing what they know about qualitative and quantitative observations in this activity.

I hope you found an activity that will work well in your classroom. Come here again next Friday for more freebies!

 Qualitative and Quantitative Observations Activity Multiplication Board Games
 Landmark Web Quest


From now until December 26th, you can get one of my best selling worksheets for FREE. Please leave feedback after you download the Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Worksheet.


 Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Worksheet

FREEBIE Friday 3

Here is your third set of FREE Teachers Pay Teachers resources. Enjoy!

1. KWL Chart by Jadyn Thone 
This is a fun and modern spin on the traditional KWL Chart where students can both write and draw their thoughts and ideas. It can be used to introduce new topics or build on old topics in just about any grade and subject area.

2. How to Teach 7 x 8 = 56 by Victoria Leon
This document teaches students a trick to help them remember the product of seven and eight. I used this trick with a student I tutor and she has not forgotten since. Use this resource with any student who is struggling with multiplication facts.

3. Poetry Response Templates by Adam Thompson
Upper elementary students can use this resource to create written responses to different aspects of a poem. Eight different poetry prompts cover poetry aspects such as structure, theme, and setting.

I hope you found something useful for your classroom. Check back next week for more freebies!
 7x8=56 KWL ChartPoetry Templates

FREEBIE Friday 2

Here is your next set of three great free resources from Teachers Pay Teachers. Enjoy!

1. Use of Lab Equipment and Data Analysis Skills by Science Stuff
This is a fantastic resource for science teachers of students sixth grade and older. The seventeen page resource has lab handouts, worksheets, and more.

2. Would You Rather Questions by Rachel Lynette
If you ever have a few extra minutes in class pull out this list of questions to ask the students. It is suitable for second grade to ninth grade.

3. Time Scoot Game by Adventures in Kinder and Beyond
This time telling game works well for students in PreK-2nd grade.

Check back next week for more FREEBIES!
Lab Equipment and Data Analysis Would You Rather Questions Time Game

Secondary Smorgasbord: Traditions

Holiday Traditions...And Yellow Snow

First of all, let me get this out of the way: Yes, I have eaten yellow snow. When I was four years old I was playing outside with my family’s black lab on a snowy winter day. My brother, who was six years older than me, got my attention and pointed at a yellow patch in the snow near the bushes. He exclaimed, “Elly look! Apple juice!” Since I LOVED apple juice I instantly began to shovel the contaminated snow into my mouth.  I was still enjoying the “apple juice” when Mom came outside and saw my brother chortling and me sitting in yellow snow.  You better believe he got in trouble and I got my mouth washed out.

Now, how is this story possibly related to a holiday tradition? Do I go around eating yellow snow every December? (The answer to that question is a firm “NO.”)

When I worked at Will Rogers College Junior High School, the teachers and students all over the school participated in a traditional winter door-decorating contest through their advisory classrooms.  In the past, the teachers had plenty of notice to develop creative decorating ideas with their students and collect supplies. The December of 2013 was different. We had little warning of when, or even if, the judges would be coming around to take a look at the doors. By the time we were notified of the date, my class of 7th graders only had one forty-five minute class period to generate ideas AND decorate the door. Our only supplies: white printer paper, markers, scissors, and tape. No glitter, no construction paper, no garlands, no wrapping paper…You get the idea. Talk about a creative challenge.

During that fateful advisory day, my students and I spent about ten minutes discussing ideas. We were getting nowhere and wasting valuable construction time. Then, suddenly, a student remembered a truth I told during a “2 Truths and a Lie” game at the beginning of the year. He promptly reminded the class of “Mrs. Thorsen’s yellow snow story.” Since the story took place in winter, the class immediately decided to bedeck our classroom door with a yellow snow theme. Lovely.

They had an idea and ran with it. Tasks were quickly delegated among the students. At table one, students cut out snowflakes.  At table two, students dried out my yellow markers transforming the white printer paper. Students at table three were working together to draw and color a dog posing in a certain three-legged standing position. Table four had students crinkling paper to give it texture and taping those pieces together to form a layer of snow. A few ladies at table five made a sign stating “When Mrs. Thorsen was a little girl her brother tricked her into eating a lot of yellow snow. Which is why we decided to decorate our door this way!” The remaining students were working hard putting it all together on the door. Here is the result.

Slightly inappropriate? Maybe. Beautiful? No, not really. But the students worked together and finished our classroom door in less than thirty-five minutes.  You should have seen my students; they were so proud. It was fun to watch them working together and enjoying each other’s company. Many advisory classes had no decorated door to present to the judges.  Unfortunately, we did not win the school wide competition, but most of seventh grade agreed: Room 320 had the best door of 2013.

Thanks go to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for setting up this Secondary Smorgasbord Traditions Linky and inviting me to participate.  Check out the other blogs listed below for more teaching holiday traditions.

FREEBIES of the Week

There is a ton of great free stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each week on my blog I'll feature three of those free resources from different content areas and grade levels.

Here are your first three freebies!

1. Butterfly Life Cycle by Gretchen Ebright
This resource is for preschool to first grade students and contains a science activity and a language arts activity.

2. Differentiated Guided Reading Activities by Isla Hearts Teaching
This resource is for first, second, and third grade reading students and can be used for high, middle, and low readers for any leveled book.

3. Primary Source Analysis by Leah Cleary
This resource is for middle school to high school ELA and social studies students and contains a PowerPoint and notes on primary and secondary sources, a group activity, and a foldable.

I hope you found a resource to use in your classroom. Check back next week for more!

 Life Cycle Guided Reading Primary Source Analysis

Winter Holiday Genetics Worksheets

Since many teachers found my Creature Genotype and Phenotype Differentiated Worksheets helpful for their classrooms, I decided to make another version with holiday characters like Santa, Frosty, and the Grinch. In these holiday genetics worksheets students find the percent chance of certain genotypes and phenotypes appearing in the babies of these famous characters. Two versions of the same worksheets are in this document so teachers can easily differentiate for the students in their classroom. 

Two sample questions are shown below with their differences highlighted.  You'll notice that just a few changes of the wording can create more of a challenge for students because they have to use their vocabulary knowledge to determine the parents' genotypes before creating a Punnett square and solving for the baby.

Sample Question from Worksheet A:
Spice the gingerbread woman and Stan the gingerbread man want to know what kind of buttons their little one will have. Frosting buttons are dominant and candy buttons are recessive. Spice is FF and has frosting buttons. Stan also has frosting buttons but his genotype is Ff. What are the possible genotypes and phenotypes of their baby?

Sample Question from Worksheet B:

Spice the gingerbread woman and Stan the gingerbread man want to know what kind of buttons their little one will have. Frosting buttons are dominant and candy buttons are recessive. Spice is homozygous for frosting buttons and Stan is heterozygous. What are the possible genotypes and phenotypes of their baby?
 Winter Holiday Genotype and Phenotype Punnett Square Differentiated Worksheets
I had a lot of fun being creative and making these winter holiday Punnett square worksheets and I think students will like them as well. Check them out now while Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site wide sale. Remember to use the Promo Code TPTCYBER to get the full discount of 28%.
Elly's Teachers Pay Teachers Store