3 Reward Systems for Middle School


Use one of these reward systems to help motivate your middle school students!

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can influence students differently, and their impact may vary based on individual preferences and situations. For middle school students, extrinsic motivation, such as rewards or recognition, might initially grab their attention and drive engagement. This could be because tangible rewards, like praise or grades, provide immediate and concrete feedback.

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation, driven by internal factors like personal interest or the enjoyment of the learning process, may take time to develop but can lead to more sustained and meaningful engagement.

The bottom line is that we need to initially capture students' interest through rewards or recognition and gradually foster a deeper intrinsic motivation by connecting activities to their personal experiences and interests.

So how to do we do this? First, we need a reward system to caputure that interest:

1. Tickets

I give a ticket to students who follow our beginning of the class routine and have their planner filled out and bell work ready before the song ends.  I also give 2 tickets for every 100 on a test or assignment and 1 ticket for every 90.  I give tickets for answering questions when I call on a student as I pick their name out of my cup.  I give out tickets for someone caught being kind.  I give out tickets for...well you get the idea.  Then the students write their name on the back of their tickets and place them in the correct bucket.

Here's a way to promote positive behavior in the classroom!  #teaching #middleschool #classroommanagement
This also connects nicely to "filling buckets" ala the book "How Full is Your Bucket?"

On Fridays, I draw tickets for prizes.  Students can choose the "sure thing" - a piece of candy from my jar...

Students can win a prize from the "sure thing" jar or... #teaching #middleschool #classroommanagement


what's in box #1, box#2, or box #3.

Let's Make a Deal Classroom Style!  #teaching #middleschool #classroommanagement

What's in the boxes?  Any manner of freebie that are given to teachers like pens, pencils, notepads etc. and things like tardy passes or other free items.  I use a reward survey to determine what students would like to earn.  Click here to get a free copy of that survey.

I used to draw a random number of tickets every Friday.  Now I keep a Scoreboard on the whiteboard.  The class gets points when they are behaving according to our class agreements  (see this post for more on that) and I get points when they are not - a take on the Whole Brain Teaching method.  The difference between the two is the number of tickets I draw.

How many tickets will I draw on Friday for my middle school classes?  #teaching #classroommanagement

2.  Individual Competitions

Once, my PLC did an individual competition with writing essays.  Every time a student successfully completed a part of the essay writing process, they earned a puzzle piece. At the end of our event, whatever their puzzle pieces showed was what they earned.  At that time, they could earn a "mud pie" (pudding cup) with different mix-ins.  You can read more about that by clicking here.

I've also had paper chains that lead up to a reward, popcorn party puzzles, race tracks,  and ice cream sundaes.  Each time they earn a point, their race car moves down the track or they earn another part of a sundae.  The visual is definitely a key to this strategy's success.

Tracking progress and success with word parts is fun when you use visuals like these!

3. Teams

Recently I had a class that really seemed to struggle with knowing how to work well with others.  Then I realized - it needed to be explicitly taught!  As I began my research, I found something pretty amazing - competitive teams based on the work of Jon Davis from The Courageous Classroom.

These teams are formed in the classroom and they are awarded points for demonstrating the "Traits of Excellence" - things like dependability, integrity, kindness, and so on.  It sounded like just what I needed so I implemented my own version of it and the results were amazing  

Winning Teams earned a coupon book with coupons that would help them "hack the class" with things like a tardy pass and other free items.  Click here to get a FREE copy of my Teams coupon books!

I hope one of these systems will work for you in getting your students engaged.  I think your students will love the excitement that builds with whatever system you choose and you will love that your students are more motivated to complete tasks.

Stay tuned for how to transition from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation!

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Use one of these systems to help get your middle school students engaged!