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Being in a virtual classroom means that a traditional pizza party isn’t easy to pull off, but there are plenty of other ways to reward your students! Virtual rewards are a great way to engage and motivate students in an online classroom, and give the student a sense of accomplishment. But beyond that, rewards also help teachers connect with their students and make lessons something that students look forward to.
“Digital rewards help keep the students focused and make the experience entertaining, while helping them with later recall of the lesson content.”
-VIPKid Teacher Maria H.
Looking for ideas for your own online classroom? We asked current VIPKid teachers what they like to do to reward students in the online classroom, and added some of their approaches for your inspiration.
Use a Star System
VIPKid already offers a built-in reward system for students with our star system. Did your student have an awesome day in the classroom? Give them a star! Did they get better at a subject they’ve been struggling with? Star! VIPKid’s star system was developed to keep students motivated, show their progress, and keep things easy for VIPKid teachers.
But there’s nothing wrong with taking things a step further and introducing your own virtual reward system for students. Or if you’re not a current VIPKid teacher, developing your own!
Tailor Rewards to Your Students
Every student is different, so your reward system should reflect that. If your student is a cat person, they probably won’t be excited about earning something like “doggy bones” as rewards points. Instead, print off some paper kittens to pin up on your bulletin board, and reward them whenever they reach 20, 30, or whatever milestone you set. If your students are competitive, give them a challenge to reach a certain number of points by the end of the month.
There’s no perfect system that works for every student. What works for your reserved 8-year-old student is unlikely to work for a group of middle schoolers. The key to setting up a successful reward system: be adaptable and tailor it to students’ interests and needs!
Stickers and Pictures (and Velcro), Oh My!
Stickers and pictures can be a teacher’s best friend! Place stickers and pictures of things your students are interested in on a rewards board to show students a visual reference of their hard work. But that’s not all they’re useful for, as VIPKid Teacher Christina shows us.
“STICKERS! You can do so much with them and they are easy to store. You can stick them on your face. You can put a sticker in one hand and a star in the other and ask the student to pick a hand (basically, find the star). You can ask the student what they want/like/prefer while showing them the different sticker options. The student and I can make sentences on my white board and I can stick the stickers into the blank spots… I can learn a lot about the student’s interests. Sometimes the students have stickers too and can show me them. Stickers Stickers Stickers!”
-VIPKid Teacher Christina V.
No stickers? No problem! VIPKid Teacher Anna goes with printed pictures and velcro instead of stickers, and we love it!
“I have laminated pictures with small objects that attach with velcro. Animals in a barn, hot air balloons in the sky, vehicles on a city street, vegetables on a vegetable stand, flowers in a garden, animals in the jungle, birds on a fence, etc. This picture is on my back wall that looks like a classroom. I also have emojis that they can choose to go in the picture frames on my classroom wall.”
-VIPKid Teacher Anna S.
Reward Students with Games
Who doesn’t love playing games during class? Games make great rewards, and they’re a great way of incentivizing students to put in their best effort during your lesson. Play some online classroom games like Snowman, Pictionary, or Charades to reward your students for their hard work and make your lessons something they look forward to!
Flex Your Artistic Muscles
Make your own props by crafting or drawing out your rewards for your students. Creating your own rewards really lets you as the teacher tailor the reward to your individual students’ interests. We love this step-by-step drawing idea from VIPKid Teacher Donna!
“My favorite reward system is step-by-step drawing on my white board. Each reward is a new part of the drawing until it’s finished at the end of class. I often have students guess what it will be! Or, I might ask them what they would like me to draw. I am an artist and former art teacher so this is very fun for me and lets me get a little artsy in class! Plus, the students love it!”
-VIPKid Teacher Donna T.
Not the artistic type? Give it a try anyway! Even if your art isn’t museum-worthy, your students will love that you tried. Plus, bad drawings will make everyone laugh and give you a chance to build rapport with your students!
Props, Props, Props!
We all know props are a great way to engage students in the online classroom. But they can also make awesome rewards for your students! Take a look at this fun idea from VIPKid Teacher Ellen. We’re just jealous we never thought of this one!
“I have a ‘feelings friend’ with stick on face pieces. We can place them however the student chooses.”
-VIPKid Teacher Ellen M.
When you’re creating rewards for students in your online classroom, spending money is not always necessary. You can use things you already have around the house or in your classroom. You never know what students will love! Just check out what VIPKid Teacher Patrick came up with!
“My most popular reward systems are ice cream scoops, dinosaurs and hot wheels! One of my students likes to pair dinosaurs with either different color scoops of ice cream or different color hot wheels, depending on the color of the dinosaur!”
-VIPKid Teacher Patrick O.
Let the Student Become the Teacher
Once a student has earned enough points in your reward system, let them be the teacher for the lesson (or just part of it). Everyone loves this one, and there are so many different ways you can implement it. You can give the student the lesson materials and have them teach you, assign them a subject for the lesson, or let them teach you about anything they want!
Students young and old get excited for this fun role reversal, and it gives them a chance to talk about something they’re passionate about. For teachers, it’s always fun and helpful to see this different side of your students. And as a bonus: no lesson planning!
Give Students “Bonus Lessons”
Newsflash: students learn better when they’re actually interested. They might not even realize they’re learning!
For their reward, teach them a “bonus lesson” about something they’re passionate about. If a student likes sports, show them stories about famous athletes or competitions. Is your student a science lover? Teach them cool experiments or talk about recent science breakthroughs! Like everything else, tailor your reward to your students’ interests.
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Still stuck for ideas? You can find even more creative inspiration by joining a VIPKid Teacher Facebook group. We’re always impressed with what VIPKid teachers can come up with for their students.
What other rewards for students have worked in your online classroom? Tag us on Instagram and let us know!