My mother gives out brownie points. They are useless “points” given to anyone she wants for doing something helpful or thoughtful. Although they were useless in my childhood, they have inspired a new aspect of my classroom. I have a brownie point bucket. Within the bucket are hanging files and folders. Each folder has a students name on it. When I notice a student is struggling with a standard in math (you don’t have to limit it to math) I find a good, helpful worksheet going over that standard with plenty of practice and place it in their folder. If a student has spare time (early finishers) or wants extra homework (my students this year have been asking for it), or the parents request extra work (for long weekends) the students can go to their brownie point folder.
The sheets can be executed at home or school but should not be done instead of actual classwork. When the student completes the sheet they can turn it in to be graded. The grade can be turned into brownie points and added to the test of the standard that covered. So if a student did poorly on the rounding to the nearest tens and hundreds test I would place a sheet for extra rounding practice in their folder. When it is completed I would grade it. Based off of the accuracy of the practice sheet I would give brownie points and add them to the rounding test they did poorly on.
At first I struggled with how to tell when a sheet was a brownie point sheet or not, but then I decided to put a brown square on the top left hand corner of the brownie point sheets (brownies are brown). I also decided to write the students names on the sheets for them before putting them in their folders so that other students would not steal their extra work. Then I became curious about how to use this same system to push the high flyers in my room to exceed to higher standards.
I decided to then find enrichment activities to place in some folders. So if a students made a 100 on a test I would find a sheet cover this standard but on a higher level (maybe a grade level higher or a different form or learning) to place in their folder. They can complete the sheet and earn brownie points also.
One resource I like for this is Houghton Mifflin. They have leveled practice sheets for all of the lessons within their textbooks on all grade levels (K-6).
I also found a free printable to put in the front of my tub to label it!!!
To make grading easier, I keep a folder at the back of the bucket with my answer keys for each sheet I have place in the bucket (I am all about simple, and organized).
So, now my mom’s simple brownie points have inspired a great way to differentiate within my very diverse classroom. Thanks mom!