Paper Plate Awards
I think teachers are always thinking of ways to reward their students, especially to get them motivated, but it can be costly. Although they love candy, I can't help but think I'm handing out cavities and obesity. Just placing it right, square, in their hand.
"Here you go kiddie, rot your teeth. Feed those zits. Get lost of white heads."
Then the onslaught of allergies, especially peanut allergies, makes me feel bad. Some kids' allergies are so terrible they can't even be in the same room with Mr. Peanut (regardless of being voiced by Robert Downey Junior).
To get one of my classes motivated during a particularly boring day of note taking, recently, I tossed out animal crackers for all the right answers. I had the best participation, but then I felt bad for the girl with peanut allergies.
Then I panicked.
"Should I even be throwing these? What happens if you come in contact with them?"
I asked her and she just shrugged. "It's OK. I just can't eat them." She didn't seem to mind. I felt bad because she didn't get a little prize, but then I began to panic. Sure she said it was OK, but, then my fear of her peanut allergy exploded like the AIDS fears from the 80's. Can you die from your peanut allergy if someone is eating an animal cracker next to you? What if they breathe on you? Do we need to wear protection? Should you sit at a different table? What if Mr. Peanut sat on the toilet seat before you?
It says here on the back of the container how the animal crackers are made in a plant that processes tree nuts.
Although I will still probably use the animal crackers again (I'll just get something non-peanut-oriented for the kids with allergies), I do something else that everyone can come in contact with:
PAPER PLATE AWARDS!
Paper plates are inexpensive and I decorate them all pretty-like. Today, I was making them for my students that got perfects on their weekly editing exercise. (I don't have the kids find every error for the grade, because I feel that's just not fair. I'm using it as a tool, but the grade helps keep them focused and take the editing seriously. Last week's exercise had 8 errors total, but the kids only had to find 5 of them. For each additional error they find, they receive a half point. Last week's total was 6.5/5. I had about six kids out of my three classes that achieved that, so I made Paper Plate Awards for them:
Look closely. Something is amiss, isn't it? I wrote "extatic editor" because I think it's rather clever to make Paper Plate Awards have alliteration. Then I realized I misspelled ecstatic. Sure, I could just rewrite it, but it was almost 5 p.m. and I was also ready to go home. I know I teach language arts/journalism, but it's becoming quite apparent in my "old age" that I'm really not that great of a speller. I've really become reliant on spell check -- even Google's Chrome web browser has spell check. Without it, my own blog would be riddled with errors. In a brief moment of brilliance, however, I was able to go through each plate and make a clever correction.
The winners of the award will have no clue that I screwed up, and I won't let them know. Instead, they'll think I'm brilliant. "That's such a great idea, Mr. Williams. Bravo!"