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Saturday, February 07, 2009

In the news!

The following article appeared in the Tundra Drums Newspaper this week. To tell the truth, I think that the article is very poorly written, but here it is anyway. It is nice to get a little recognition doing something good for students. You can click here to view the article in the online version of the Tundra Drums. The article in the actual printed newspaper had pictures of kids to go with it. I put a blank space in everytime my last name would have been in the article. Enjoy!

Peer pressure to play ‘The Game’

If you happen to be “that” student, the one who walks into Alisha ______’s Bethel Regional High School classroom a few minutes late or without an appropriate writing instrument, don’t expect a tongue-lashing from the teacher.

You’re likely going to get it from a classmate first.

_____, a second-year Bethel science teacher, uses a creative classroom game to incentivize students into doing their thing the right way.

They call it “The Game.”

“Each class has three teams, and the teams earn or lose points based on participation and behavior,” said ______, 28. “At the end of each semester, those on the winning (high school) team win a field trip.”

______ and 12 of her students from first-semester winning teams enjoyed a day off of sorts Jan. 12. The group toured Bethel’s power plant and water treatment facility before enjoying a pizza buffet lunch at an area restaurant.

“The idea is the kids get rewarded with a day out on the town,” ______ said. “It’s supposed to be fun and rewarding, and it’s kind of career-focused for my 10th graders.

“They not only learned how the power plant runs, they learn about the credentials and experience it takes to work there.”

______ did her student and first three years of teaching in Ohio, where she learned of the classroom-incentive game from a mentor. She teaches three sections of high school biology and three sections of eighth-grade physical science at Bethel. In lieu of a field trip, the winning eighth-grade team members each semester win a sleepover at the school with ______.

“We watch movies, make popcorn, play games, whatever,” she said.

______ said the game takes on a life of its own. The younger students tend to get into the spirit of competition a little more than the older ones, but everyone plays along.

“It’s such a great way to manage a classroom,” ______ said. “It’s totally based on peer pressure. I can tell a student to be quiet time after time or tell him or her to bring a pencil to class five days in a row.

“But when it’s your team members talking about getting points taken away, you’re probably going to bring that pencil to class.”

Students refer to ______ as the “Team Master” or “Game Master.” The game rewards and deducts points only for behavior and participation. Test scores and assignment grades don’t weigh into the contest.

______ randomly split her classes into three teams for the first semester, which ended at the holiday break. For the second semester, students with the best grades in class captain and chose the teams. ______ tracks teams’ points on a scoreboard on the wall of her classroom. She doesn’t mind adding another chore to her daily list known well by all classroom teachers.

“It’s a different aspect of school and it all happens immediately,” ______ said. “I don’t have to say anything. I just ask which team the student is on — A, B or C — and dock or add the points.”

Last month’s field trip was ______ third while at Bethel. Her students have previously visited the Yuut Yaqungviat Flight School and the airport’s control tower. They’ve toured Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp’s hospital and launched a weather balloon with the town’s weather service.

The game and the rewards have been a big hit.

“I had a friend write me telling me I had to give the game up, asking why I’d want to do that extra work,” ______ said. “I told her it’s important to my students. They spend an entire semester working to earn the prize.”

Matt Nevala can be reached at 907-348-2480 or 800-770-9830, ext. 480.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thats areally cool article!! Congrads. There needs to be more teachers like you in the world. I wish my kids got to have you as a teacher one year.