February 12, 2019

Middle School Reward Ideas on a Budget

Learn how LiveSchool improves paper rewards, and get ideas for Middle School rewards!
LiveSchool 101: Happy Teachers, Engaged Students, and Better Data

Some of the teachers at Kingsway Elementary School in Charlotte County, FL, were skeptical of using an app to recognize positive behaviors. As a PBIS school, Kingsway already had a “coin” system, and the kids loved earning their tokens. There was no obvious reason to switch things up.

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But when their principal implemented LiveSchool, they started to see a major shift in their school’s culture. And once students started seeing points add up instantly in their LiveSchool “bank account,” they didn’t miss their old stash of coins one bit.

Teachers Nicole Clark and Shauna Krueger offered up some of their favorite ways of boosting school-wide excitement around LiveSchool.

The school encouraged participation with competitions

Third-grade teacher Nicole Clark saw the kids’ enthusiasm pick up with the first House Points competition. It turns out Kingsway students have a healthy competitive streak, and teachers discovered creative ways to encourage their camaraderie. Nicole started checking the Insights feature to see how her class was doing compared to the rest of the school, and consistently motivated her students to level up - one raised hand and clean desk at a time.

Throughout the competition, classes show team spirit by dressing in their House colors. And Shauna Krueger, who takes care of Kingsway breaking news as the school’s Media Specialist, announces competition updates on the TV’s.

Teachers also use tools within the app to keep everyone engaged during the off-season. Between competitions, Nicole checks out the Scoreboard feature to see who’s been earning the most points. And top students for the school get the spotlight with a special mention in the morning announcements.

Student sitting at a desk in class smiling
House Point competitions get kids excited about earning points for their team.

The school offers tons of student rewards that are actually free.

Of course, there’s only one thing more exciting than collecting points: cashing them in! Nicole noted that some of the most popular behavior rewards don’t even involve material goods. Some of the free activities kids can earn include:

  • Creature feature: kids can bring in their pet and show it off in morning announcements. (Safe critters only, of course - the kid with a pet crocodile may have to choose another option.)
  • Guest Anchor: students who earn enough points get to be the “guest anchor” on the morning announcements, and present their favorite news feature.
  • Lunch with the principal: mix things up with a VIP lunch.
  • A seat in the teacher’s chair: they get a chance to kick back and relax in a cushy swivel chair for a change.
  • Lead a science experiment: students who model good behavior get to take a break from routine and make some slime with the science teacher (or choose their own favorite experiment).
  • Chew gum or take off your shoes in the morning: Even small privileges become super appealing if they’re normally off-limits.
  • Silly string the principal. Any principal who’s up for this should be prepared for some photos!
Student using LiveSchool to choose a PBIS reward
With many behavior rewards to choose from, students get most excited about free activities.

The school culture has changed for everyone in the building.

It didn’t take long for Nicole and Shauna to see the many benefits of using one reward system for the whole school.

Since bonus points are centralized in the app, teachers can reward any student - not just those in their own class. They work together to address problems (like a noisy hallway) and start recognizing the students who are lining up quietly. Because LiveSchool is accessible on any phone or tablet, it’s versatile and easy for teachers to use anywhere in the building.

Even parents can see how many points their child earned that day. Instead of asking “How was school?” (which often gets the all-too-familiar “Fine” response), they can ask them about all the positive points they earned in class.

Nicole loves to hear that parents now have a positive way to help their kids open up.

It gets that conversation going between families and their children.

LiveSchool even improved communication between teachers.

Shauna found that LiveSchool made it much easier for teachers to share updates throughout the day on individual students.

Before LiveSchool, she had no idea how a kid’s day was going when they walked into her class. And there often wasn’t enough time between classes for teachers to talk privately about student successes or challenges.

Now, Shauna can tap a few buttons on her phone and see how many points have been given out for each student, and why. If she has an inkling that a certain student might be having a rough day, she can see a fuller picture with LiveSchool. “If there’s a kid who has a lot of demerits, then right away I know I need to start that kid’s day out on a positive note and really pull that kid in.”

Students have clear expectations and are all working towards the same goals.

In the app, points are linked to specific behaviors - unlike the coins that the school previously used, which weren’t tied to any clear expectations. So Shauna finds that students are more aware of the school’s behavior goals.

The kids know what’s expected. When they come into classrooms, they’re working to earn those points and they know what’s going to earn them points.

Even though Kingsway already used a behavior reward system, LiveSchool has helped them develop not only some friendly competition but a stronger sense of community. All grades are working toward common goals and celebrating together.

As much as Nicole loved her coin system, she would never want to go back now that they’ve implemented school-wide rewards.

Our school has changed in so many positive ways. I feel like we're all speaking the same language, in regards to a classroom management tool.
Student using LiveSchools Points app for behavior rewards
A Kingsway student checks up on her LiveSchool points.

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