November 19, 2008
I use a balance scale, along with the small blocks that come with our math kit, to reinforce positive group behavior. When students receive a compliment from another teacher or when I see them following directions, I give them a positive block on the left side of the balance scale. When students misbehave as a group, I drop a negative block on the right side of the balance scale. When the positive side touches the table, we have a Positive Party. Recently my students voted to have a Teddy Bear party. I was surprised that the boys voted for this type of party but it was a hit!
To make sure this party was not a distraction to the curriculum, I had the students read to their bear during reading, make flash cards for their bear during math, and write a letter to their bear during writing. When the negative side hits the tabletop, we just empty the bucket and start again. It does not take the students long to see that when they misbehave, it takes longer to make the bucket drop the positive side all the way down to the tabletop.