Several years ago I had the pleasure of observing one of the best teachers ever for the first two weeks of the school year. She is honestly the most fantastic person I've ever seen standing in front of a classroom. So many of the ideas that I use originated from her, including this gem of a classroom management tool.
This is the almighty marble jar. (A note on the name: it really isn't a jar, but my ESOL kiddies have a hard time with lots of the more fitting words, like "container." And "Ms. S's Marble Container" just doesn't sound as good.)
I made a huge deal about this to the kids, so they are super pumped about it. Every time I catch them all doing something good, I drop a "marble" into the jar. It makes quite the racket when I drop one in--I can see all of their faces light up, and then they start concentrating on their work even harder. It's pretty hilarious.
When the jar is full, they get a special surprise. I told them it could be a day of free centers, games, computer time, a video, playdough, or even a fun snack. It's cool because each of my six groups are using the same jar, so they get to help each other out (also hence the large size of the jar, since I could possibly put 12 marbles in it on one day).
Obviously we have a long way to go before our first treat, but once classes start back up I think we'll start earning marbles like crazy. Right now we are doing testing, so I don't see my kiddos for two more weeks! Sad day. :[
Do you have a favorite classroom management tactic?