Thursday, March 11, 2010

Slip Notes

I am constantly dreaming up creative ways to inspire students to listen intently to biographical stories.  One thing that seems to work very well is what I call "Slip Notes."  Students get a pencil and slips of left over paper which I scrounge from the paper cutter in the teacher's work room.  As I read to the students, their job is to chose one fact that they find interesting AND they think no one else will write down.  After I am done reading, we share what is on our "Slip Notes" and if no one else has what the student has, they get a reward.  In my class, we use jelly beans.  If we have time at the end of class, we repeat the process.  They are given the chance to write down one more fact that has not been mentioned and again, it must be unique in order to get a jelly bean.

The students learn to listen using this method.  They hear me tell the story.  They take notes and then they share facts once again with each other.  As they exit the room, I have them tell me what they found interesting about what they heard that day.  We learn about Ludwig van Beethoven in 4th grade after we finish our Recorder Karate.  If you know one of my 4th graders, ask them about Beethoven; they will be able to tell you much about his life!

I have been criticized for using candy as an extrinsic motivator.  I accept that.  It's fun and it's effective.   You could do this with stickers or stamps or high fives or points or whatever else you choose.  Jelly beans are my thing.  They are a small yet sweet incentive.  You can use whatever works for you.   In the whole of my teaching, my goal is to model and stimulate intrinsic motivation but I find that properly placed extrinsic motivation can heighten awareness and ignite desire to learn.

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