In my classroom I have a chart that displays the student’s basic fact knowledge. These facts are probably one of the most boring things to learn in school, but extremely important to being successful in 5th grade math. If I simply said, “Learn these facts,” then most of the students who didn’t have photographic memories would not learn them ever.
After four previous years of teachers asking my students to learn their facts, I find myself having to foster in them a desire to accomplish this mundane task. To this end, I posted a poster on the board to put my student’s progress toward their goal. We call them Math Fact Masters and you would think there wasn’t a cooler accomplishment in the world. As each student passes a level we congratulate them in the front of the room. As students complete all four levels they become famous for a day; sitting in the teachers cushy chair and getting a nice note in their agenda. All the attention makes the students beg to practice their facts.
As teachers we become the greatest motivator in our student’s lives. The students look to us to teach them what they don’t already know and to encourage them to learn more. As we celebrate our student’s successes we are showing them that even the most boring things in life can have great rewards.
(In the comments below, please tell me how you make your students feel special)