February 12, 2003
I teach foreign language, a subject area that demands students' oral participation. Every day we 'take points'. I will use either a seating chart or a roster (with grids) and a different color gel pen each day. A total of eight or ten pens is ideal. After marking attendance on the chart, I pass the sheet on to a reliable student and have that student mark down points as students answer questions. The system frees me up to engage in oral activities and acts as an incentive to students to participate. After each class, I look quickly at the sheet to make sure it's accurate and determine whom I need to call on during the next class. From day one the students know it's not extra credit and that they can lose points for disrupting the oral flow of the class. At 4 points a week--an extra one if they do exceptionally well--they know it's 40 'easy' points a marking period. I have at least as much success with this in level one high school classes as in my former middle school classes. As an extra benefit, it helps you, the teacher, make sure you're calling on all your students--something that evaluators tend to monitor during observations.