High Schoolers + Little Rewards

One of the traditions of my class is that students who earn an A for the marking period receive a pencil that says so.  I announce their names in front of the class, and they enjoy a moment of recognition when they accept these tiny trophies. 

I borrowed this idea from my own high school AP Calculus teacher, whose I GOT AN A IN AP CALCULUS was perhaps my biggest attainment in the world of mathematics.  I never thought I would get one, and it felt pret-ty dang good when I did.  I still have it.  It's pink.  It's a treasure.

My students hold on to these pencils like they're sacred.  Some of them never even get sharpened, for fear of losing the printed statement of their success.

It's a corny little trinket, I know, and I don't believe a student's number grade is a measure of her value or success, but it is nice to have little recognitions throughout the year.  I love seeing my tenth graders, who would love to believe they are too cool for school most of the time, hold tight to their little pencils, or enthusiastically pull their test papers to their faces because there's a scratch-n-sniff sticker on there.  

I like to remind them that it's okay to be a little bit excited all of the time.

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