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#cashforgrades
July 23, 2014
0

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What is #cashforgrades?
Idea 23, Dangerous Taxation from the 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons by Ross Morrison McGill (AKA: @TeacherToolkit). It’s a fake cash reward system to encourage engagement, provide friendly competition, reward the things you appreciate and have a bit of fun.
How did it work?
The system is quite simple, when a student turns up, gets on and achieves well they are awarded fake money, Monopoly for example, which is counted up and added to the running total. Periodically students who score highly, either specific amounts or top number of students, are rewarded. In order to generate excitement we played for big money. This was especially good fun since some students thought they were actually going to get real money in class in the first session; the sighs of disappointment when they realised the money was fake made it even more entertaining for the class.
Our System was as follows:
Attendance = £10,000
RAPP Point (Merit/House): £25,000
High Quality Exam Style Answer in Class: £25,000
Target Grade in Test: £50,000
Each Grade Above: +£25,000
Each Grade Below: -£25,000
Quality Post Test DIRT: +£25,000
Lazy Post Test DIRT: -£25,000
No Book: -£25,000
No Pen: -£10,000
Late: -£10,000
Red Card: -£50,000 (Not used, but there for completeness.)
As well as the normal systems I also used a variety of additional award opportunities, such as voting for worthwhile contributions, gallery peer feedback with each group having a wedge of cash to give out, competitions and challenges.
Concerns:
The first concern that I had was keeping track of the scores every lesson; this was quickly solved by appointing a “banker” to keep track of the scores. This worked well and students had to take responsibility for themselves; banking their cash at the end of activities. It also resulted in students reminding me about the challenge which is great.
The second concern was that competition can sometimes create the wrong climate in a classroom; to avoid this I made sure we focused on friendly competition and encouraging others. A rising tide to lift all ships rather than a sink or swim attitude.
Student Feedback…
To find out what the students thought about the system after a term we did a quick PMI; an Edward De Bono thinking skills technique for categorization. P = positive, the good stuff. M = minus, the bad stuff. I = interesting, well you can guess what that’s for. Not the most quantitative scientific research, but a great qualitative method for checking their perceptions.
Positive:
Encourages people to get more involved in the lesson.
It makes the lesson more fun because you get rewards.
Makes people try harder to get cash.
Helps people to remember their book and pen.
Makes you want to speak up in lesson.
Thrive for awards.
Minus:
Not everyone is rewarded.
Interesting:
Interesting to see what other people are getting rewarded for so you can aim to do the same.
Reflections:
After putting the list of names on a spreadsheet this method took almost no effort but did create positivity and a sense of competitive fun. The class were really happy with this and want to use it next year and other classes who have heard about this have asked if they can have #cashforgrades too. I’ll definitely be running this with all of my GCSE classes who want to play next year.
Millionaires Club:
To add to this for next academic year I’ll be introducing the millionaires club with a certificate and special privileges. This will be over the course of the full year since I have my classes for one hour per week. If you have more lessons you could reset the totals each term with special privileges until the end of the term. You could even make a special event when someone joins ‘The Club’.


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