In any classroom, there is sometimes a fine line between classroom management and pure chaos. We want students to be creative and excited about learning. What we don’t want is random chaos with no direction in sight.
So how do you manage and maintain this creative atmosphere? My main classroom management tool was a money society (more on that later) that helped my kids understand the importance of accountability. Another tool that I used to help promote responsibility were Club Cards.
Depending on the year and my bunch of kids, sometimes they were called Homework Club cards and others they were STEM Club cards. They work exactly the same way, just calling them STEM Club cards gave me more flexibility than just using them for homework.
I am a big fan of not grading every. single. thing. that comes across my desk. That’s not to say that I don’t provide feedback or that students are doing busy-work, just that progress and learning are more than a letter on a report card.
I used the Homework/STEM Club cards for the assignments that I knew wouldn’t make it into the gradebook. Maybe I read the room and my kids really didn’t grasp the concept on the homework assignment. Or maybe it’s one of those quirky required pieces where the brilliant publisher asks the kids to draw a line matching an item in column A one in column B. Or maybe It was just a quick review with 3 questions where missing one would kill their grade.
For these assignments, I’d grab my trusty hole punch (I like the ones in shapes other than circles for a number of reasons. A small rubber stamp can also be used too) and tell my students to put their assignments on their desks and have their Club Card ready. The only rules for assignments like this were that they had to have the proper information on the top (name and period) and they had to have made an effort. Blank assignments do not get their card clipped.
Depending on how often these cards are used, I would either trade them a completed card for a Homework Pass or put all completed cards into a bin at the end of the month and draw a couple for homework passes.
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Lane specializes in STEM curriculum design and professional development for K-12 stakeholders and enjoys making teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.