Winner, winner chicken dinner

What do we winWhat do you do when they win a game? Some teachers buy them prizes. Some teachers buy them candy. Me, I don’t buy them anything because I am cheap and I would rather save my $$$ for vacation. And let’s face it, the last thing they need is sugar.

This brilliant idea I learned from Tawnya, my lead teacher from my student teaching days of yore.  It is so simple and so easy and almost criminal.

In my class, when students win a game, they bring me their Stamp Sheet that they keep in their binder. It looks like a calendar and I stamp the next empty square. They collect stamps all semester then turn it in for extra credit with their final exam.

Disclaimer: I don’t like extra credit and this is the only extra credit I do. I think it’s worth it because students are wildly motivated to play and win (even my lame games!) And here’s the criminal part: it really doesn’t have much impact on their overall grade! (Shhhh, that’s one of my most closely guarded secrets! That and I sleep with my eyes open, there’s my other secret. Shoot.) I award 1 point per stamp, so a kid with 13 stamps gets 13 additional points…in the grand scheme of things it might move his grade up 1 or 2 percentage points.

Pro Tip: I have a bunch of different stamps (Joanne’s is a great place to buy them in the dollar bin! (Or Amazon has everything: Here’s a cute sombrero stamp.  Here are some maracas!    )and I rotate them, so I try to not use the same stamp two times in a row. This is part of my anti counter-fitting strategy. I figure if a kid steals one of my stamps and all of a sudden someone has 15 of the same stamp, I’ll know there’s sneaky business going on! (It hasn’t happened yet but I try to stay one step ahead of my little darlings. )

Other thoughts on keeping score…

In my humble opinion, for a lot of games it is easier for me to give the students something to indicate their points than mark the points on the board. We live in Nevada so   the natural choice is poker chips. Team 2 won a round of 20 questions, so they get a poker chip. At the end of the game, the team with the most chips is announced as the winner. When I used to keep track on the board, I got real tired of their whining: You gave them too many points! You didn’t give us a point! Your math is wrong, their score should be 17. And the nice thing about awarding something (poker chips, paperclips, playing cards, whatever) is that the other teams cannot easily see who is winning, which keeps everyone engaged and they play nicer.

and on announcing the winners…

Since I’m obsessed with cramming my kiddos full of comprehensible input, here’s another way to give them more reps of common structures and give them a chance to stretch their legs. For a game where students compete individually or in pairs (like in Art Memory or Cierto o Falso ) I say  to the class “Levántate si tienes 4 puntos o más” (Stand up if you have 4 points or more) Then repeat it with a higher number, stand up if you have 7 points or more. Students with fewer than 7 points sit down.  And again repeat “Stand if you have 11 numbers or more”  increasing the number each time and decreasing the number of students who are standing. When I have one or two (or three or four…let’s face it, I’m pretty generous when determining the winners!) students left standing, I announce the winners.

Something else fun (if I have a minute left in class and I’m feeling sassy)…Once there are 3 or 4 students left standing, I’ll ask the rest of the class to “bet” on their winner. Of course there’s lots of input and discussion. Who thinks that Shelbi is going to win? Who thinks that Danny has the most points? Then once we figure out the winner, I will give a stamp to the winners and everyone who bet on them. It’s fun and hey, we’re in Nevada!


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