We all know that just because we have expectations, does not mean they're always followed. I started brainstorming ideas to do some sort of extrinsic motivation. I love the book (and the movie) Horton Hears a Who and I know my students do too! So I went and found a Horton at a second hand store, washed him up, and wrote the following letter.
(I call my students, "Schmidt Sweeties," and my partner teacher is, "Kunkel Cuties."
I teach in a Dual Language school, so I translated it to Spanish too:
The letters are laminated and taped (book tape) onto a journal, which the students write in (at least once) during their time with Horton. On Wednesday, when Horton comes back to school, the student picks one of their journal entries and reads it to the class at the end of the day. They give Horton to me and he and I talk-- of course, I ham this up BIG time. "Horton was calling to me from inside someone's backpack and I had to search and search for him to find out what he wanted to say!" When the student returns Horton, he sits on my LCD projector so he can really be watching and listening for who the best listener is-- that way Horton can tell me who he wants to go home with . Most kids know that Horton doesn't actually speak to me, but they absolutely LOVE the pretending.
One of my daughters was at a birthday party with a couple girls from my class. I just LOVED this one… when I walked in to bring my daughter and visit with the other parents, I saw that Horton was in a little front pack with my listener of the week. She wrote about Horton attending this birthday party. It was a hoot! I wish I would've come up with something like Horton much earlier, but nonetheless, I love it and him!!! Each week, I take a photo of the student with Horton wherever (and whatever pose) they want!
I keep a spreadsheet with my class list in one column and write the date they took Horton home in the second column. Of course, this helps me see who I need to keep an eye out for who's not yet had the chance to see Horton. Some students (after many months) have not yet had him, so I take extra time to work with them and help them do well to be the listener of the week. They're trying so hard. Many weeks it's nearly impossible to choose just ONE.