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Charity Preston's picture
Charity Preston, M.A., is a national presenter, consultant and author. She has completed studies in gifted training, cooperative learning and differentiation, as well as a master's degree in...
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Classroom Accountability!

Most teachers have heard of a token economy classroom. Many variations are out there based on this very principle. I personally find a simple form of this idea to be rewarding for the students~ but more importantly~ for me. This is how I set up my classroom environment: First~ I begin with contacting local banks to donate a class set of blank check registers and checkbook covers. Second~ the students use sticky foam letters to place their name on their checkbook cover. Lastly~ I go to the dollar store and buy all kinds of kid junk.

Students may earn individual "dollars" in their checkbook for doing weekly classroom jobs. This helps all students take a vested interest in their surroundings~ while instilling a sense of responsibility to make sure they work to earn their keep. Since my students are also in teams~ they have an opportunity to earn even more. I begin the week by giving each team $5~ which I have listed on the front board as a visual cue. (They need to at least begin the week on a positive note with the previous week's results gone so as to start off with a clean slate.)

Throughout the week~ I don't have to raise my voice to ask teams to quiet voices~ or to stay on-task. I will silently walk over to the board~ and add or subtract $1 or $2 based on what the teams are currently doing. Your class will catch on quickly and they remind each other to fall into line.

Every other week~ I allow the class to total up their individual and team points in their checkbooks. From that total~ they may come "shopping" in the SuperStars Store. My store consists of three large plastic bins of differing monetary values from which the students may choose. My rule is that the child may only pick one item per time they choose to shop. The only exception to that rule is at the very end of the year~ when they have lots of dollars~ and I have many items still left over.

After choosing an item~ students are required to subtract the amount of their item and bring me the checkbook to verify their accounting. This activity not only increases math skills (you can always get into change as well)~ but it creates ownership of their funds. Money spending versus saving up are skills that should be touched upon especially for immediate gratification children.

Sometimes I do use the checkbooks to enforce rules. If a child is blatantly acting out towards another~ I will automatically deduct currency. Or~ if a student repeatedly refuses to return homework~ I will create a new rule that specifies all homework must be turned in by the shopping day that week in order to have the privilege.

The classroom seems to run more orderly and positively based on my experience. The small cost I put into it is minor compared to the level of control I have over behaviors in the classroom on a daily basis. This~ to me~ is worth any investment I have to cough up. For those who feel that the cost may be too much~ I have also used item rewards that are not bought. For example~ extra computer time~ lunch with the teacher~ or bring your favorite stuffed animal to school one day rewards work just as well.

This positive atmosphere (I try to focus on the teams earning money~ rather than subtracting money) has shown me that students do want to do the right thing. Sometimes they just need a little incentive and many reminders.


Charity Preston - The Organized Classroom