Sunday, April 10, 2005
1 million pages?
I had a dream about Delta Gamma and that I was invited back to be a vp. That led to thoughts about when I was the director of scholarship and I created the Scholarship Olympics. It was a motivational scholarship program. The entire sorority was separated into groups according to major. Then each group was given a name (I got the names from girl cartoon characters so I ended up having names like Daphne and Lucy and Wilma. No Belle or BamBam or Briar Rose.) Group members earned points by making good grades on projects, quizzes, and tests. Also by doing study hours. Then group members who had accumulated the most points got prizes. Gift certificates. I thought those would go over well. And they did.

The program was successful. Probably about 10% of the chapter participated. Not great numbers, but even for those not participating, maybe they thought about their studies a little more. (Or maybe they just thought, Oh how cute. That Alicia girl thinks she can bribe me into studying.) And I think it was worth the work I put into it. Oh the work I put into it. I had excel files giving details on every member, their favorite classes, their majors, if they would be willing to tutor someone else. I had a huge poster detailing which group had the most points. Each group had a little paper doll named with their group name. The paper dolls were on the poster. I set up an email address that people could email their points into. I had to check that each week and calculate their totals. It was work.

And I did this work for free. Just to motivate others to learn. I think about this sometimes when I think about what I will do to motivate my students to learn. I also think about my sixth grade math teacher. He went to a LOT of work. We did group work in that class. We were placed into groups of 3 or 4. The groups were made so that each group's test average for the last class was roughly equivalent. Each group came up with a name and drawing for the group. It was exciting to see what group I would be in next. I don't remember much, except that one time my group was called the Colorado Rockies. And the boy in my group drew the logo perfectly on our group name sheet. That was the first time I had ever heard of the Colorado Rockies and I will always associate them with Mr. Richardson's sixth grade math class.

One of my latest teaching ideas is to make goals (personal and class) of either pages read or number of books read. Or maybe a combination or both. I was thinking it would be cool to have my classes read 1 million pages during the year. Books that we read in class could count. Books read outside of class could count. Graphic novels would count. And maybe magazines. The students would turn in a title and number of pages and answer one question out of several listed. Maybe favorite quote and why or favorite scene or character. And then we could keep track of what the class is reading. And how much. There could be a paper chain, with each circle representing a number of pages. And when we got there, we could tear off that circle. And then when we reached the goal, there would be a pizza party or some fun motivating thing. I was thinking of the number 1 million for all of my classes combined. If I had 150 students, that would mean 6666 pages per student. Which, over the course of a year wouldn't be that much. If I had 180 students it would mean 5555 pages per student. So it would probably be somewhere in the middle. 6000 pages is 24 250-page books. I think I will monitor how much I read over the next few weeks. Probably 750,000 or 600,000 would be much more doable. But there is just something special about the number 1 million.

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