LinkedIn group discussions are tame by most social media standards. Your average topic is cerebral and insightful, but not terribly provocative. So imagine my surprise when my inbox became clogged with over 1,376 responses about using pizza as a motivational tool in the classroom. Pizza.
Here’s the question that ignited a firestorm of opinions….
Pizza party for getting A’s? What are your thoughts on a middle school having a party for all students who attained an A average and excluding those that did not realize that achievement? I love it.
Impassioned responses poured in from educators, parents, child development experts and anyone invested in building students’ self-esteem. Their heartfelt opinions came from witnessing the emotional highs and lows of a classroom reward system. Teachers are wired to motivate and celebrate all of their students’ gifts. So where does a pizza party for ‘A’ average students leave ‘B’ average students who master multiple programming languages, are accomplished musicians or visionary artists? Where are the slices with extra cheese for these extraordinary youth? Excluding some students, because their strengths may be something other than academics is bound to cause conflicts.
Leave it to technology to individualize kudos in classrooms. Class Dojo took the burden of behavior management and elevated it to a race for virtual praise. According to Edutopia’s Lisa Mim, “You can award an individual or multiple students. Students love getting ‘dojo’ points! They love hearing the sound of a positive dojo and dread the sound of a negative one. A positive or negative sound has everyone looking at the board and then getting back to work.“
Class Dojo is highly effective in elementary and early middle school classes. For teens, app creator Kudzoo puts self-motivation in the hands of teens seeking a stretch goal. Students self-report grades to accumulate Kudzoo cash they can redeem for different types of rewards – Apple, Amazon, Chipotle, Forever21, and GameStop gift cards – for example. While Kudzoo is relatively new, according to co-founder Trevor Wilkens one teacher who uses Kudzoo’s platform saw a 65% increase in engagement. Some students email and tweet Kudzoo to say the app has improved their drive in school.
Empowering students to drive their own reward system is a viable alternative to serving up pizza for ‘A’ students only. Thank goodness, because I dread the inbox traffic if we ever get to the question of deep dish vs. thin crust.
lAmy von Kaenel is a highly enthusiastic Thrively Ambassador. She’s been a veteran of the tech industry for two decades, wearing dual hats in market intelligence and marketing strategy. Amy’s co-authored industry reports on Smartphone Enterprise and mHealth technology. Her organization, Tech Coast Consulting, has served Global 2000 and start-up organizations in both the tech and healthcare industries. Amy holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of California Irvine.