Okay - I know that we aren't supposed to use extrinsic rewards in classrooms (at least not very often). But I was reading How Children Succeed more today and it described another study that was very interesting. Children were given an IQ test and then grouped into high, medium and low IQ groups. These groups were then split in two (experimental and control groups) and given the IQ test again. The experimental groups received an M n' M for every question they got right.
The high and medium IQ groups showed no difference between test scores with and without the treat. However, the low IQ group jumped from an average score of 79 to an average score of 97 with the treat. This showed that the students needed extra motivation to try their hardest - something they aren't always going to get in the real world which means their IQs will often look like 79 instead of 97.
My thought was that I could use treats to jump start my students' motivation. Of course I do have some students that are motivated without treats, but I do have a big group that just seem to be killing time at school. I know that their skills are not at the level they should be which makes school so much harder. This causes them to not try as hard which makes school even harder and they are just stuck in a bad cycle.
I was thinking that I would keep a lot of wrapped candies (like individual Starbursts) with me while we review everything we covered for the day and maybe even for a review of what we covered the day before. At first I could use the treats as a reward for every question I asked. Slowly, I would use them less and less frequently until the students are answering and trying because they want to feel successful.
This is just one of my many plans to help my students rise above the expectations everyone has of them. More to come!