Meaningful Ways to Praise

It is always comical to me that my seniors will still get excited over stickers. One day, they jokingly asked why I never give them stickers. I just chuckled because I have a drawer full of stickers that mostly my six-year-old son likes to claim but the looks of childlike excitement that crossed their faces when I said they could have some if they wanted, was the best! There is just something priceless about praise and encouragement.

In a traditional environment, this can be as simple as stamps and stickers on work, but how can this same idea translate across a digital platform?

I imagine the same goes for their desire to earn badges and other virtual awards. The challenge? Finding meaningful ways to praise!

Some platforms have built-in models for this. We have utilized vocabulary.com in our district, and it is interesting to me how students will strive beyond simple practice to earn some type of award. Some of the options they have include badges based on the level of achievement, including names such as Savant (for >200,000 points) and Verbivore (for >400,000 points), awards such as Perfect Round!, Streak (different ones depending on how many words in a row), Mastery (again different for however many in a row they have mastered) and even icons for achievement in a particular word group (based on alphabet). They go on to name leader boards for classes and boast competition amongst students to drive learning.

vocab-com-badges

Recently Flubaroo has added stickers when you grade Google Forms. And they aren’t necessarily run-of-the-mill stickers either. They include all kinds of silly ones like a slice of pizza wearing shades saying ‘you rock!’ or a ninja bragging about ‘super skills.’ They give teachers the options of including whatever sticker you choose based on meeting certain criteria. Do you know what the conversation around the room was? “YES!!! I got a cool ninja.” Again, we are talking about seniors and their reaction to a quiz grade. Love it.

flubaroo-stickers

What about creating your own badges or icons that students can achieve on assignments, on a weekly basis or throughout a grading period? Have you thought about a leaderboard for your own class? When it comes to praise and achievement, sometimes the competitive spirit spurs on a desire to learn. And don’t forget that these badges you create can just as easily include customized ones for your learners that may not be at the top of the class but still have achievements worth celebrating.

Regardless of age (and this includes adults too), we all need praise and encouragement along the way.

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