Use #Money to #Motivate Your Students With’s “Go On Bucks” #Education

Image of ten dollar bank note with reindeer face in center and the words "Go On Bucks" surrounding reindeer face

Image adapted from iClipart

When I was teaching 7th grade English in 2013, our team of 7th grade teachers used a motivational tool called “Go On Bucks” to encourage students to get better grades.

The term “Go On Bucks” came from our “Go On to College” theme.
Here’s how “Go On Bucks” worked: every Friday, the 7th grade Advisory class teachers would hand students a progress report showing their grades. We would paperclip “Go On Bucks” to the students’ progress reports, and the dollar amount would be determined by their grades. For example, an A was worth $10; a B was worth $8; a C was worth $5, etc…
At the end of the grade period, students were allowed to spend their “Go On Bucks” on items the teachers bought through the Oriental Trading Company, or for carnival events like “Dunk the Teacher” or face painting.
The first quarter we experimented with “Go On Bucks” was a learning experience for all of us. We discovered the ways students manipulated the system. For one thing, students who didn’t get good grades were able to talk friends into sharing their “Go On Bucks” with them. So from that point on, students were required to put their names on the backs of “Go On Bucks” in ink. That helped prevent unfair sharing of “Go On Bucks” between friends.
To prevent photocopying of “Go On Bucks,” we stamped the back of each one with a unique rubber stamp.
We also discovered that activities were a more enjoyable reward than Oriental Trade goodies. Students would rather spend $100 in “Go On Bucks” to enjoy pizza and a movie with friends, rather than going to a store to buy $100 worth of plastic junk. So we offered more of these rewards in future years: a carnival, relay races at the park, a swim trip, etc…
I no longer teach at that middle school, but my daughter, who is a 7th grader there this year, is getting straight A’s without any hassles. I really believe a program like “Go On Bucks” works wonderfully for middle school kids, who are old enough to appreciate the value of a dollar but young enough to not see it as “uncool.”
I also wish to share an announcement: I’ve taken a job as  a librarian and will no longer be creating new materials for English students. So all of my posts following this one will be re-posts of things I’ve created for English in years past. Furthermore, I usually switch to monthly posts over the summer months, but since my job as English teacher is done, I will only post once a month from here on out. I hope this doesn’t inconvenience anyone. 🙂

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