Sunday, June 28, 2015

Peso Rewards in Spanish Class

A few months ago I wrote about student reward systems and my experiment to try it out in my Spanish classes. I decided to go "low-tech" and gave out paper tickets, called Pesos, for each reward.

Students earned rewards for
  • a perfect quiz or test
  • winning a game or activity
  • extra practice outside of class, such as the Duolingo app, or activities on my textbook's website
  • extra practice worksheets
  • homework completed and turned in on time, and with name on it
Students saved up their pesos and use them to buy things at the Peso Store. They could purchase candy, small toys/supplies (the maraca pens were a big hit), stickers, etc. Also they could buy out 1 quiz per quarter or 2 homework assignments per quarter. 

When I began the program, I had not included homework completion as a way to earn a peso. I give homework about 3 times a week...and I feel it should be completed, reward or not. I also had a very good grout of students who generally did complete their homework. But then I realized that completing homework would be an achievable goal for all students. Some students will rarely get a perfect test, but they can complete their homework on time. 

As I reflect on my program, I do plan to raise the prices in my peso store. Some of the high achievers in my classroom had pesos coming out of their ears, but rightly so--they worked hard. Candy was by far the best seller, but several students were happy to buy out that one quiz that they bombed or a homework assignment that they missed. Overall though, I was extremely pleased with my peso program and plan to keep it. The students really liked it, too!

This program went against every fiber of my being. Students should be intrinsically motivated, they should want to do well, homework completion is a requirement, not an option. (You get my drift.) But my classes are electives, so I am competing for students, in a sense...and a foreign language class can be difficult. As much as I try to make my classes fun and engaging, there is a fair amount of work involved--learning vocabulary does not always come easily. My beliefs are starting to evolve...is there harm in rewarding a job well done?

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Do you use student rewards? Do you love them? Hate them? 


  1. I give out Olé tickets in my classroom and they work similar to your Pesos. They can also receive them for group project work when I do not need to direct the group back to work or when students complete projects and the class votes on the best one. Sometimes I hand them out for a really good question or helping out in the room without prompting. They can earn them for completing homework but only every five homeworks done on time and completely.
    My struggle is making the time to pull the prize boxes out each Friday. How do you keep up with your store?

  2. Great thoughts! I honestly only took out the "store" at about mid-quarter at at the end of the quarter. I really wanted kids to save their pesos for buying out a low quiz or homework at the end of the quarter, to try to improve their grade. A couple of times at the end of class I'd have a kid come up and ask to buy something, and then I'd open it up. I use a plastic drawer cart and keep it behind my desk, so I can just roll it out when needed. :)

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