As a motivation and reward for students I have a bag of candy in my desk at school and faces usually light up when it comes to the classroom with me. Despite being an English teacher I am not a great speller, so I reward any student who finds errors I have written on the board, with candy. In this way the whole class doesn’t learn my mistakes and good spelling is encouraged. I am well aware that in many western countries this system would result in complaints from parents and possibly other teachers too but that is not the case here. Since most of my students are boarders who live on a diet of predominately rice and potatoes the few times they get candy from me is not seriously impacting on their health, in my humble opinion.
This year with the grueling Class X syllabus to cover I divided my class into groups early in the year and insisted that we use these group for all activities and quizzes as a way of saving class time. It can take 10 minutes or more just to settle on groups so I made sure that each group was mixed gender and well balanced in terms of academic ability. It has proved a real boon to classroom behavior and time management. They know that there will be a fair competition and that each of their group members has different strengths and abilities, so they choose carefully who will represent them for various tasks. By having allocated positions in the room for each group to work in, we can divide up in a few minutes and reclaim teaching and learning time.
From the beginning of the year the novel was always going to be a tall order for many of my students so we introduced the system of having quizzes, in which the groups not participating wrote and asked the questions at the end of every few chapters. I upped the anti and chocolate became the prize for the members of the winning team. My students have gone from strength to strength and now they are able to get together share ideas with everyone contributing and listening to each other before selecting the best response and speaker. Girls who rarely spoke a few months ago will contribute and even correct the boys, if they are not brave enough to be the speaker themselves.
As we have progressed through the novel each team has played off and the winners have played a semi final. This week we were down to the final 2 teams and I announced that we would play off for ‘momos’ in a restaurant in town on Saturday afternoon. The 2 teams involved certainly wanted the kudos of winning but ‘momos’ took the competition to a whole new level. I have never seen the class more determinedly concentrating and not just the competitors either. Even for the teams who were devising questions there was a palpable air of anticipation. I wish I had discovered the “momo motivation method” earlier is all I can say! The finals ended in a draw so all 12 students won!
Today we enjoyed our prize and in our class time I announced that there were exactly enough chapters left to repeat the whole process before the novel and the semester were over. It will be one quiz after each chapter from now on and I sincerely hope it is another draw between 2 different teams just to share the love.