We started something new in our classroom today. Well, we do that almost every day, so really it was just like every other day. But today my students requested that I blog about this one.
Starting today, we’re tracking “Table Points.” Every week, each table group can earn points for their table for doing the right thing; for following the universals of our school (we call them the Robinson Road Rules). They never know when I will award them, or how many I will give. They can be earned as a whole group or I can decide to give them just to one person (but they count for the whole table) for doing something extra amazing. At the end of the week, the table with the most points earns lunch with me on the following Monday.
I got the idea for table points from my hubby, who also teaches elementary school. He started using table points in his classroom a few years ago, and after seeing it work really well and hearing how excited his kids were about it, I was interested in trying it in my own classroom.
I think kids intrinsically really want to do the right thing. Sometimes things get in the way of that and they do kooky things like talk in line and stare out the window during reading time or doodle on their paper instead of answering the math problems. But deep down in there most kids want to follow the rules and act in a respectful way. Sometimes they need some motivation and encouragement to do so–or just recognition when they do it without being asked.
That’s where table points come in. Today I gave 10,000 points for being the first table to be cleaned up and quiet for lunch. I gave 10,000 more points to every table for waiting quietly in the line for us to go to lunch (this is hard for us to do most days). Table 1 and Table 4 earned 5,000 points for spending all of their writing time really focused on adding new, thoughtful entries to their notebooks. Tomorrow I might give points for doing morning work quietly or picking up other people’s messes up off the floor without being asked. It might be 10,000 points or 5,000 points or just 1 point. The amount of points is not important, and neither is when they earn them. I think it’s that they earn them, and that they never know how I’m going to do it.
During our Closing Circle today (an activity that happened to be another thing that they thought was blog-worthy), I loved how S complimented her tablemates for helping her earn so many points today. She thanked them for staying focused and working together. Together. They had decided at the beginning of the day that they were going to do whatever they could to make sure they were on task, engaged and doing the right thing. And since they had all made it their goal, they achieved it. Each person had a small part in the success of the whole group.
I am excited to see who “wins” lunch with me on Monday. It could be anybody, but no matter who it is who, we’re all winners because we’re focused on being better, more focused, respectful learners. And we’re doing it together.