Student Motivation - What's Working This Week

I've done the whole "secret person" thing for about twelve years, but usually just during May when I'm desperate. It was highly motivational because I would take the student and a friend out to lunch at Subway, Wendy's, whatever was close to the school. It was expensive, yes, but totally worth it. This classroom management strategy seems to be more common now, but I drew a stick every morning and kept it a secret. Throughout the day I'd say things like "I'm looking to see if my person of the day is on task" as I scan the room. Of course, they try to figure out who I'm looking at, but I'm very good at it :) And then at the end of the day I'd say who it was if they made it, or say that the person didn't make it and not reveal the person.

Well, now that I'm at the middle school, I don't have my kids all day and we only have a half-hour lunch. So instead of trying to secretly communicate to each of their teachers who the secret person is that day, I decided to do this by period. Instant gratification. So each period, I draw a stick and a back-up for the class that is currently in my room. If at the end of the period if the secret person has behaved appropriately, he or she gets to choose two items off of my prize line.
My prize line contains school supplies, coupons, chips, and other little random things that I've collected over the years. I decided to string the line at the front of the room where I do my whole-class teaching so that the prizes are constantly in their line of sight. If the first person didn't make it, then I determine if the back-up made it. Of course, I don't reveal who it was if they don't make it. So far it's been working very well. Yes, I've given away around eight prizes a day, but only a few of those things cost me money. And even those things have made it worth it.



  1. Congrats on the test! We don't even take ours until week after next (the 22nd) so we don't usually get results until almost the last week of school... Love the prize line!!
    ideas by jivey

  2. Congratulations on the test! I like your prize line. I have seen some ideas about picking secret students and really like how you run yours. Sorry that you have such a difficult class this year : (

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  3. Congrats on the test results! I love the secret person idea, although I will need an alternative to a prize line because there are a LOT of sticky fingers in my school. I can't even keep candy or pencils in my desk!!!

  4. I love your prize line!! Great idea! Would you be willing to do a guest post on my blog? Email me if you would like to

    Crofts' Classroom

  5. I like the idea of secret student--and hanging the prizes up is very motivational! Congratulations for the test scores, too! From what I hear, we won't be getting test results back until OCTOBER because this is our first year implementing Common Core. It's gonna kill me!

    The 4th Grade Journey

  6. That prize line is brilliant Diane! I love it! I already have a line for papers, posters, artwork...I could totally use this idea in my class! Thanks so much for sharing and coming to my party!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  7. Just LOVE this idea! And you are right....trying to motivate students this time of year is so tricky. We have our State Tests over the next two weeks, but I may try this after that. Thanks for sharing!


    Mrs. Allen's 5th Grade Files

  8. I love that idea! Definitely doing that the last few weeks!!!

    Congrats on your scores!


  9. I love the visual of your prize line!! That is awesome news about your state test! We start ours next week and the results don't come until July (if we are lucky!). I would be ecstatic if the scores don't drop like the Commissioner has predicted:(
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  10. Congrats on your state test results-I wish we could get ours back quickly!! We usually take ours in March or beginning of April and don't get results til July or when we go back to school!! This year we aren't taking the test until May (thank goodness!) so I'm not sure when we will get the results.

    LOVE your idea of a secret person-I might try to implement that in the last few weeks of school. :)


  11. I love the idea of the visual reward and the mystery student. What a perfect system.
    ~following via Google Connect :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  12. Congratulations on your test results! I know that's a great pressure off your shoulders. We have about 4 more weeks before we test and like Shannon said above, we don't get results back until mid-July.

    I love your idea of the prize line. I've always wondered if it would be possible to implement it on the middle school level. :-)

    Have a great week!
    Surviving Sixth Grade

  13. Interesting idea! I like it:) I just found out last night that I will be teaching 5th next year! I'm your newest follower:)


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