Sometimes a donkey needs a carrot, sometimes a stick. Carrots work better because the donkey moves toward what it wants, not away from a punishment. According to Dr. Marzano (and, apparently farmers would agree), providing praise (a carrot) is a very effective teaching element.
It's not just highlighting A's and B's though. Recognize those, but really emphasize student growth. Maybe a student who got an F last time worked their butt off for a D. A D is still not proficient, but it is improvement; a step in the right direction. Recognizing that hard work and building that student up (especially if they are one of a very small number of students who were not proficient) is a very powerful tool that can really motivate lower achieving students.
But what about those high achievers; those students who seem to get A's or B's regardless of apparent effort? Recognize their achievement, but celebrate and honor areas they show real growth in. Praise them for making deeper connections during class discussions or for asking great questions or for being a great leader and facilitator of learning in class. Proper praise goes a long way with most students; achievement is great, but don't forget to always highlight growth.
This week's Marzano post is universal, and can be applied to any resource or lesson, so I won't highlight any specific ones this week. However, remember to follow this blog and visit and follow my store for great Social Studies resources!
I'm an 18 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.