Reading mysteries can certainly pique students’ interests, but how do mysteries translate to everyday life in the classroom? The three ideas below bring an element of mystery to any classroom and can motivate your students to pay more attention to the details around them. Teacher-tested and approved, these mysterious ideas are sure to take the mystery out of motivating your students.
Teacher-Tested Behavior Management Techniques
Mystery Friends Promote Positive Behavior
Linda, a Kindergarten Teacher, from Mattawan, MI, promotes positive behavior management with this mysterious idea. “To promote good hallway behavior, I pull two students’ name sticks from a box,” she explains. “I do not reveal the identity of these “mystery friends” but I do tell my class that I will be observing these two students to see how they are behaving as we walk in the halls. Of course, since no one knows which two students I am observing, all of my students monitor their own behavior. When we return to the classroom, my well-behaved mystery friends each get to choose a small treat, such as a spider ring, a small eraser, or a sticker.”
If you ever wander into Peggy’s 3rd Grade Classroom at the end of the day, you will be surprised at how neat and tidy it is. This Missouri teacher has taken the mystery out of getting students to straighten up with this helpful idea. “For years I struggled to discover an effective method for getting my kids to clean up at the end of the school day,” she admits. “It seemed no matter what method I tried, come dismissal time, the classroom was still a mess, with the same few students trying to do the work for everyone. Then I learned of an amazing end-of-the day game called ‘Mysterious Piece of Trash or Treasure.’
To play, you divide the class into two teams, and then secretly choose something in the classroom that is either out of place or needs to be thrown away. This might be a piece of paper on the floor, some craft supplies left out, or a book out of place in the classroom library. I let the kids know when I have secretly selected the mystery item and then I send them on their mission to locate it and clean it or put it in its proper place. When the room is clean to my satisfaction, I reveal the mystery item, declare the child who took care of it as the winner, and offer that child one of two prizes: a sticker or a point for his or her team. I have yet to have a student pick the sticker. Talk about a team builder! (Tip: Use this technique as an opportunity to give a boost to a team member who has had a particularly rough day or who may be struggling with team bonding. Remember, the Mysterious Piece and the student who took care of it are your call.)”
A popular game show may have been the inspiration behind Rebecca’s mystery message behavior management technique, but all her Second Grade students know is that it is fun! “Each morning, I devise a secret multi-sentence message for my students complete with punctuation,” she explains. “The message can feature factoids related to a person or area of curriculum we’re studying, or it can be a joke or a riddle, etc.
On the board, I draw the number of blanks that equal the number of letters in the message, plus punctuation. During the course of the day, whenever I or another of my colleagues ‘catch’ my students behaving well, helping out, or being considerate, they earn letters on the message. At the end of the day, we take turns guessing (‘Wheel of Fortune’ style) any remaining letters and punctuation needed to fill in the remaining blanks.
When the message is filled in, the children read it and discover there is a surprise embedded in the message. The message might tell of a homework-free night, an announcement of some upcoming visitor, more free time in class, information on a special field trip to look forward to, etc. My kids are eager each day to earn letters needed to fill in and read their mystery message.”
What are some of your “mysterious” tips and tricks for encouraging positive behavior?