Teacher A is putting the incentive that is attached in place for this school year and wanted to share it. I think it would be great if the entire 4th grade adopted it. Fact fluency is huge in Common Core in the primary grades but we will not be reaping the benefits of the focused instruction for a couple of years, so this is a great way to get our students actively involved in their learning! Thanks, Teacher A!
Here's the attached incentive:
Welcome to fourth grade math! Students are expected to enter fourth grade knowing their basic multiplication (0x0 – 9x9) facts. Basic fact tests are timed and are a part of the math grade for each marking period. A fun classroom incentive is in place to encourage students to study and/or review these facts at home. Students will earn a sundae as well as other incentives as they master their facts.
Fact Quiz - Date - Sundae Piece
0’s and 1’s - Fri. Sept. 6 - bowl
2’s - Fri. Sept. 13 - Ice cream scoop
3’s - Fri. Sept. 20 - Ice cream scoop
4’s - Wed. Oct. 2 - syrup
5’s - Tues. Oct. 9 - syrup
0’s – 5’s - Wed. Oct.16 - Pick a treat
6’s - Fri. Oct. 25 - candy
7’s - Fri. Nov.1 - sprinkles
0’s – 7’s - Thurs. Nov. 7 - Pick a treat
8’s - Fri. Nov. 15 - cherries
9’s - Wed. Nov. 20 - whipped cream
Sundae Party – Thursday, November 21!
1. Students must earn all parts of the sundae to receive the sundae. (My note - in a separate email we received a coloring sheet that is to be hung up in the classroom for each student. Students will color in their Sundae Piece when they pass the test.)
2. Most of the above quizzes will have 20 problems. However, both 0’s – 5’s and 0’s – 7’s will have 40 problems. Students will need to earn a 90% to earn their sundae part. They will have 2 minutes for 20 problems and 4 minutes for 40 problems. (Note - When students begin the district tests in multiplication, they will only have 3 minutes for 50 problems.)
3. “Pick a treat” day is a choice of a candy or a prize from the classroom bucket.
4. Students will be allowed to take the test more than once. However, students will need to stay on schedule and continue with the next fact even if they have not completed the previous one. Makeups can be done anytime.
I'm not even sure where to start with my concerns. I've never used incentive programs in my classrooms for anything with the exception of those students who had behavior plans in their IEPs so this whole situation is making my eye twitch. Then, we're going to publicly put everybody's achievement, or lack thereof, on display. And then there's the part I bolded in #4. If this is a program to learn and master math facts, why are we moving students on before they have actually reached mastery?
So I'm reaching out to all of you for some help.
First, I need resources that will help the people on my grade level team understand that rewards like this are not the way to help our students meet high expectations.
Second, I know I need to have high expectations for my math students, and I know that part of having a growth mindset is being willing to understand that you can learn and grow when you have an area of weakness. But the whole idea of participating in this incentive program (which seems more like a requirement and less like an option) is leaving me with a pit in my stomach. If I am required to participate, how do I make this more of a growth minded, learning opportunity for my students as opposed to a "oh look, you didn't pass another test and you can't color in another part of the sundae" situation?
Third, I could use some words of advice. Am I over reacting? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Is those one of those times where I shouldn't pick the battle?
I know so many of you have written about this on your blogs so I'm hopeful that you will chime in with some suggestions, ideas and advice for me.