Hello, reader! If you intend to post a link to this blog on Twitter, be aware that for utterly mysterious reasons, Twitter thinks this blog is spam, and will prevent you from linking to it. Here's a workaround: change the .com in the address to .ca. I call it the "Maple Leaf Loophole." And thanks for sharing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One of my favorite things about blogging is the emails I get out of the blue. Recently Amanda Glynn (glynna1030) sent me this nice description of a contingency to compel kids to stay on task. I used it on a review day when I really wanted kids to just sit and do practice problems for a half hour. That's tough during the last week of school, but it worked nicely. I used bonus points and plastic counting chips. Amanda agreed to let me share it.

This has worked really well on review days and lets the kids get in an easy minor assessment grade.

First, they get into groups of 3 or 4 and assign someone the title of "Blockmaster" and some one else "Keymaster."

Then I review the rules: Everyone starts out with a 20 out of 20 points. If they have 5 blocks at the end of class, then that's their grade.

If they have less:
4 blocks = 19 points
3 blocks= 18 points
2 blocks = 16 points
1 block = 14 points
0 blocks = 12 points

There are 5 ways they can lose blocks:
1) Copying
2) All groups members not participating (leaving someone out)
3) Talking off topic (at this point, I remind them their topic is "This Review" not any math topic, "This Review" only)
4) Someone other than the keymaster looks at the answer key
5) Asking me a question before they ask their group

I make sure #5 is enforced by doing the following: Suppose Jim, Tyler, Kate, and Sam are in a group and Sam has her hand up. I walk over, looking at Sam, and then glance at Tyler and ask, "Ok Tyler, what is Sam's question?" And if Tyler can't tell me, i take a block.

Then they come and get their linking unit cubes (5 in a stack) and the answer key in a blue folder.

It works really awesome! You gave me an awesome idea, so it's only fair I give you one back!

Thanks, Amanda! And thanks for taking the time to share it with the world.