Rewards and Incentives for Middle School

Class Dojo is all the rage. Google it and you will find hundreds of support pages, instructions, incentive/prize ideas, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Class Dojo, however, in the three years I have utilized the resource, I have found it difficult to reach my middle school students (particularly in 7th and 8th grade). Some students appreciated the Dojo program, while the majority of the middle school students found the Dojo “monsters” to be juvenile. Pretty much by the final semester when I was teaching K-8, I gave up using Class Dojo with middle school students completely. One summer, I thought back to what rewards and incentives my teachers used while I was in middle school. I remembered that the majority of my teachers used in-house (meaning specific to their classroom only) incentive dollars that we earned based on a variety of criteria posted in the classroom, and we were able to “cash in” our “dollars” for prizes. I spent a large chunk of that week searching for art specific or art themed “dollars” that I could use in my classroom this fall, and only found one. The one I found online was great, however the dollars were quite small (about half the size of an actual dollar bill), and I felt that students would be more likely to lose them. I went with the theme of Salvador Dali (because why not?). Below is my design and the rewards that I will use this fall. You can download a PDF copy of my Dali Dollars on my TeachersPayTeachers Page.

The first year that utilized the Dali Dollars, I had students save them to “cash in” for a prize of their choice and had the points posted in our classroom at all times:

10 Dali Dollars: piece of candy

25 Dali Dollars: eat lunch in art classroom

50 Dali Dollars: free draw time (last 10 minutes of class)

75 Dali Dollars: swap seats with anyone for one class period

100 Dali Dollars: bring grade up by 5 points

I found that this wasn’t enough incentive for my students, and many were losing their Dali Dollars before they could cash them in.

Instead, last school year I began treating Dali Dollars as raffle tickets. I give out Dali Dollars as rewards and still use them as incentives for good behavior. I also use them as rewards for students bringing in supply donations. You can read more about how I receive donations here. Students write their full name and class name on the Dali Dollars whenever they want to add them into our raffle bucket (a recycled animal cracker bucket from BJs). Students can choose to add their raffle tickets as they receive them, or save them until their chances are greater- when they have more, or when there are less competitors in the bucket. On the last school day of each month, I choose one winner from the bucket during last period. Whichever student’s name is chosen gets to pick something out of the prize basket (candy, toys, etc).

Dali Dollars for the art classroom

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