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Celebrating academic excellence in AP English

favicon AP English is a grind. It’s hard on my students. No matter how much they think they’re trying, there’s always more work to do.

That’s why I like celebrating students for their hard work and success. In addition to Student of the Week, in which a student chooses a peer for recognition, here are three ways I appreciate students:

1. Essay of the Week. Every two weeks, students write an essay. I choose the best one and post it on iseroma.com, my class website. Here are some samples. What’s neat is the unveiling ceremony. We do a little drum roll, and there is usually big applause. My students like it because they know I’m picking my favorite essay, rather than trying to make everyone happy. In fact, several students have won the award more than once — a big honor.

2. G(rammarian) of the Week. This semester, we’ve focused more on grammar and proofreading essays to reduce errors. One of my students made a big medallion out of paper, laminated it, and attached it to some yarn. The student whose essay is cleanest gets the G of the Week Award and wears the necklace until the next week’s awards ceremony. Here’s a sample post. I’m pretty sure Grammarian of the Week has encouraged students to look more closely for details in grammar and mechanics.

3. Quizzards. Students take a weekly quiz every Thursday that tests their reading comprehension, knowledge of tone words, and understanding of literary devices. When grades slumped in the middle of the year, I introduced Quizzards. Short for Quiz Wizards, Quizzards are students who received 100 percent on the previous quiz. All I do is post their pictures up on our class website and announce their names. There is so much more pride now in studying for quizzes and getting a higher grade. Even more important, there is great variance in Quizzards; struggling students see the most growth here, which keeps them motivated to try hard.

It’s funny what silliness can do in a classroom. It’s interesting what public appreciation can do, too. When putting in hard work, it’s nice to be recognized. That’s why I think these three easy class routines are working. It’s important to build in celebration of hard work. favicon

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