We are finishing our fourth week of school and I just entered my first grades into the gradebook for my Economics students. My Civics students, on the other hand, have already had 6 assignments go into the gradebook.
Why so few scores for Economics? It makes me very excited to explain this because my Economics students have done a bunch of pretty high quality work, but have nothing to show in the gradebook. Usually if kids have done a lot of work, they start demanding to see it in the gradebook! But since I am teaching Economics I have decided to gamify the class by using a class monetary system… So the work that students have been doing – which has not gone in the gradebook – has been done to make P-Daddy bucks, the class money. I have somehow come to be known as “P-Daddy”, so each class dollar has my picture on it, thus P-Daddy bucks. :But why would students care about this play money? Well because they had to pay to take today’s test. It cost $35 P-Daddy bucks. Yesterday they brought up to me their money and I sold them a ticket to the test. Today I only passed out tests to students who had tickets.
In my other classes I have two categories for assignments that go in the gradebook, “formative” and “summative.” In my Economics gradebook the only assignments are summative. All the assignments that students do which are formative, the type of “homework” assignments that prepare them for the things that will be on their test, are paid for in P-Daddy bucks. No grades. So instead of saying to kids in this class, “Hey, turn in your homework!” it is instead, “Hey, make some money!” I tell all the students that I have given them a high paying job, because there is really no limit to how much money they can make. Because I give them gobs of choices about things they can do to “make money.” I give them a number of different assignments they can do for the money they will need to take the next test, I pay them to take notes on the podcasts I have made which cover the class content, as I used a flipped class/ blended learning approach. But students are also allowed to enterprise their own assignments. The sky is the limit. They just have to pitch me, and in most cases I say, “Go for it!”
I tell them they can choose to be rich or poor in this class. I am always on the lookout for various things to “sell” to students who have earned more than they need to pay for the tests. Sometimes I get gift cards, sometimes I offer pizza slices, sometimes stuffed animals, whatever garage-sale type stuff I have around… For readers of previous blogs, I used this class money approach several years ago in my World History classes, to mostly freshmen and sophomores. The students I have in Economics are seniors. And I am finding that the “make some money!” motif works just as well with seniors, maybe even more so.
There were two students who did not take today’s test. They will be able to take it when they earn the P-Daddy bucks. But until they do, they have a zero on the test. Real world lesson. It is a really satisfying feeling for me as a teacher that students are paying to take these tests! Think of it! STUDENTS PAYING TO TAKE A TEST! And they are! I will end today’s blog here, ready to recount and reflect on the continued progress of teaching students in an Economic$ class by using a class money system…