Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Reading Teachers' Motivational Tool

An Interview with Tina Slater, a Special Education Teacher

Tina Slater
Position Title: Special Education Teacher
Grades: Fourth and Fifth Grades
School Name: Onsted Elementary School
Years Teaching: 27 years
Current Subjects: Reading, Math and Writing

How do you use tokens from Fitness Finders in your reading classroom?

In my reading resource classroom, students are awarded tokens after reading a leveled chapter book. Students are reading their chapter book 10-15 minutes each day so it can take 8-12 days to complete a book. During reading, the student and I talk about the text and I listen to them read. When the book is complete, we meet to talk about the book and their reading success. During this time I present a token to commemorate their accomplishment. 


How do you choose which tokens to use?

When selecting the token to award, I try to match the token with the book the student has just completed. I have a variety of animals, and objects to choose from. When students completed a book about Knights, I awarded them a key and a compass — which were two important objects from the Knights Quest. They were thrilled! Sometimes it can be more difficult to make a match - in those cases I may use the question mark token and make a connection with the predictions students made during reading or their use expression when reading aloud. 


How do you distribute tokens?

Tokens are presented by me to students in a private ceremony. I actually make a big deal when presenting the token and make a mini speech calling out the achievements the students made while reading the book and making connections between their reading success and the token. I am conferencing (video) with the student, but I am aware that others (family members) are listening. I try to call out as many positive reading behaviors as possible.


How do students display their tokens?

Students wear their tokens on lanyards during reading class (the laces from Fitness Finders). Each student selected their lanyard and the links (Lacelink) from the variety of colors and patterns Fitness Finders offers. When students aren’t wearing their necklaces they are displayed on hooks near our bookshelves. 



 Do you have a favorite token? 

I love all of the ANIMALS! Our school mascot is the wildcat — so all of the cats and paws are a hit with my students. 


 How has this changed your classroom environment or impacted student motivation? 

Rewarding tokens has brought a bit more fun and provided a visual that represents student success.  I love it when I hear a student say, “I can’t believe I have read this much,” as they are putting on their necklace before class.


Can you share any stories or quotes from students while using tokens in your class?   

5th grader Emma said, “When we get rewarded with tokens, it just makes us want to read more and work harder. It makes everything more fun!”


Do you have any plans specifically for reading month?

During Reading Month, students will be earning double tokens and we will be celebrating Wildcats Read with drawings for extra tokens. I’ll also be taking pictures of students reading while wearing their token necklaces to send home with their progress reports in mid-March.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

❄️Treat Your Students To Their Own Run Through the Snow! ❄️

In honor of our  "Race With The Sled Dogs Program", we asked Coach White from Orion Elementary in Anchorage, what it’s like to operate a run club for students in Alaska. Here is what she said...

Do students run outside in the snow or inside the school?

We run outside in the snow. Getting fresh air is important, especially during the long, cold, dark winter months. On Dec 21st, Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, we typically only have 6 hours of daylight here in Anchorage. The sun doesn't rise until about 10am and sets by 4pm. Further north in the Arctic Circle, they have several weeks where the sun doesn't rise above the horizon at all!

How cold does it get? 

I've seen it as cold as -20 here in Anchorage. Further north in Fairbanks it is common for it to reach -40 in the winter. Our typical winter temp is about 20 degrees for a high and in the teens or single digits overnight.

Do you use EZ Scan to scan laps? Does the tablet work when it is really cold outside? 

Yes, we use EZ Scan to keep track of our mileage during the running season. We keep our iPads inside the entryway in the window sill facing out so that kids can scan through the window after each lap and the iPads stay nice and warm!"

Interview Date: 2019


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mileage Club hits 250,000 miles!

Listen to Amy Nieuwenhuis (Teacher and Mileage Club Leader) tell us about her Mileage Club reaching a huge Milestone.

Developing a Reward System for Her Dyslexia Treatment Plan

An Interview with a Dyslexia Therapist

How a Visual Reminder of Their Accomplishments Keeps Her Students Motivated

An Interview with a Second Grade Teacher and Run Club Leader

Motivating Students to Do Their Very Best Every Day

An Interview with PE Instructors from Shady Hill Elementary in Florida 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Motivation and Habit Formation

I met a young middle school teacher a few months ago who wants to be successful. She has visions of her students coming back to visit her after they graduate high school and thanking her for the impact she made on their lives. Unfortunately, her day to day teaching experience makes her feel ineffective and frustrated. More and more of her students are disinterested, and sometimes even disobedient. To be a great instructor you need students who listen and desire to learn.

The solution to this problem is not new but requires planning, purpose, and some discipline. Successful students cultivate some or all of the habits that almost all successful people have: THEY EXERCISE, READ, SHOW UP (ATTENDANCE), AND EAT HEALTHY FOODS. The more habits students cultivate from this list, the more successful they will be.

A proven way to help create such “successful habits” is to create goals and then reward students when they attain the desired behavior. Teachers across the country find this works very well, and research bears this out.

That’s why we created the #1 selling award for run clubs, Toe Tokens® – colorful, plastic feet that kids love to collect.  Kids run miles and love it J, so they can get a Toe Token. 

Due to the success of Mileage Club®, and because of requests from teachers, we quickly followed up with awards for reading, attendance, and nutrition – which is also helping kids reach their goals.


Here is how it works:

  1. Develop a plan to create routine activities around the desired goals for your classroom.
  2. Layout the prescribed activities based on your goals and circumstances.
  3. Following the idea of cue-habit-rewards made popular recently by Charles Duhigg (2012) and  now James Clear (2018), you then create:
      1. A cue that tells the student when it is time to begin the habit/activity.
      2. Clear instructions on what the activity consists of, without uncertainty.
      3. An incentive plan to reward students at fixed intervals.
  4. Design a system to measure progress.
  5. Celebrate the goals met by distributing the awards earned.

Let’s look at how this works with Mileage Club (run club):

1.  Goal - my students will exercise more to increase their learning readiness and improve their health and mood.

      • Create a program that allows every student to participate. 
      • Allow each student to feel accomplished.


2.  Prescribed Activity – Start a running/walking club (Mileage Club).

      • Create a course/track for the Mileage Club. (Our example will be a ¼ mile course around the playground.)
      • Students run two times a week during recess (with an optional third day on Friday).
      • Provide 20 minutes for each run.

3.  Cue - the recess bell.

      • On Tuesday and Thursday, the students move around the track at whatever pace they can.
      • Music can be played during this time to create a fun atmosphere.
      • Incentive plan- every 5 miles (20 laps), a student earns a Toe Token.

 4.  Measuring – laps and total mileage will be tracked with the EZ Scan tracking software. 

5.  Celebration – awards day every Friday.

  • On Friday, at lunch, all students who earned awards receive their Toe Tokens.
  • A lanyard is also provided with the first Toe Token so a student can display their awards.
  • Students who desire to run more may do so on Friday.

This goal/reward method has worked for decades across the country for run clubs, as well as reading plans, and behavior programs. Such programs are easy to create and implement. And, they help students create those necessary “successful habits.”

Stop being frustrated with your current efforts and start making a massive difference in your students' lives - just like you dreamed about in college - with Mileage Club, EZ Scan, and Toe Tokens! Fitness Finders has decades of experience to help you begin today.


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg from 2012

Atomic Habits by James Clear from 2018