Saturday, January 26, 2019

Classroom Token Economy

In the past few years, I wanted to start a classroom token economy system for my students but just couldn't find one that was the right fit. Some were too juvenile for middle school, some didn't work well with my student's existing behavior plans/reinforcement systems, and I just wasn't having much luck.  I decided to set up my own system in a way that I thought would work well for my students at the time. 

I decided to use fake dollar bills that we already had in our classroom for math as our money or tokens.  I worked with my students to generate a list of things they would want to 'buy' if they were earning money. Then we came up with ideas of ways they could earn money and we made a poster of it.  It was a really simple system, but I started it off hoping it would give my students a little extra motivation when we needed it. 

I have tweaked this system over the past two years, changing the prices of items students can buy, what they can buy, what they can earn money for, etc.  For example, this year my students are running a coffee business at our school.  Half of my students participate in this class every day, and the other half participate every other day. Since we set this period up similar to a real job, students have to clock in and out on a time clock (we use an app on one of our old iPads and have it mounted to the wall). At the end of each week, students get paid $1 classroom cash for each day they worked in the coffee business.  Some other ways students can earn money in my class include participation during a lesson, being in their seat when it is time for class to begin, helping a classmate or teacher, or being caught working hard. 

Classroom cash has become a big motivator for some of my students. For example, I have a few students that will, at times, refuse to come back to their seat after a break or will sit at their desk and refuse to participate in a lesson. That is a time where I start passing out classroom cash to other students for their participation, or for coming to their seat on time, and seeing that their classmates are getting cash is usually enough motivation for a student to start participating.

This has also been a great way for my students to work on money skills.  Each student has a real wallet that we keep in the classroom and they put any money they earn in it.  On Fridays, students count up their money to see how much they have total.  Then they get to look at the price list and we work on determining if they have enough money to purchase an item that they want.  We also work on budgeting because students have to save up for most items rather than cash in their money each time if they want to earn higher-priced rewards. 

This has been a fun system to use in my classroom and a big hit with all my students, and it has really helped decrease some unwanted behaviors.

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