1. What are the Effort categories that Effort Tracker tracks?
Click on this link to see a summary of Effort Tracker’s five categories.
2. What is the best way to begin using Effort Tracker
a) Use Effort Tracker’s Participation category to get students used to being called on randomly for participation opportunities. After a week or so, tell students that you will now be using the app to both select students for participation and to score how well students are maintaining their focus in class. When answering questions, students do not need to respond with the correct answer to get a high effort score. Students who repeat the question in their response are also showing that they are paying attention and therefore deserve a high effort score. (E.g. “I don’t remember the capitol of Minnesota.”) For more information, see our screencast on the Participation category or pages 4-8 of the Teacher Manual.
b) At the same time (or a day or so after) that you inform students that their participation effort will be scored, tell them that the app will also be used to give recognition to students that are staying focused and following all class rules. Under the Recognition category, student names are randomly listed along with a percentage that shows the average of each students most recent three scores. Let your class know how many students you plan to “Recognize” per class period or section of the day and that students may earn a bonus to their Overall Effort Tracker percentage when they earn Recognition. (A screencast on the Recognition Bonus Program will be on our Support page soon. Or see pages 9 and 10 of the Teacher Manual).
c) Consider upgrading to Effort Tracker Pro to compile a more complete assessment of student in-class effort. (Screencasts on Effort Tracker Pro categories of On-Task, Ready, and Class Rules will be on our Support page soon. For now, see descriptions of these Effort Tracker categories on pages 11-15 of our Teacher Manual )
3. What reaction do students have to the Effort Tracker program?
Student reaction varies by Effort Tracker category:
I teach at the middle school level – almost all students are happy to receive “Effort Awards” and will often remind me, if I run out of time at the end of a class period, how many additional Effort Awards I owe that class on the following day. My guess is that it would also work very well in the elementary grades. Not sure about high school but I would certainly give it a try.
This category can stop or greatly diminish the common pattern of students taking on roles in the class. For simplicity I’ll break the roles into three groupings: Group A are students who nearly always participate and can be counted on to answer teacher questions. Group B are students who generally pay attention but prefer to limit their participation. Group C may not be tuned in at all. By using the Participation category to randomly call on students to participate, the roles students have played in the past or play in other classes are disrupted.
Students in Group A will not be talking as much (some may not like this change). Students in Group B will be talking more and their reaction will be mixed. Some from Group B want to participate but don’t want to raise their hand and look interested (back in 7th grade, I would have been in this group). Group C will check out less often and learn more – reaction mixed.
When scoring the On-task category I’m careful to state that I’ll be coming around to give students credit (instead of saying “if you are off task you will get a low score”). I am holding students accountable but I want to phrase it in a positive light. Most students like getting credit for the work they are doing. Some students, who are used to checking-out during individual or group activities, improve their effort as a result of more frequent scoring/check-ins (especially if they know that some adult – parent, guardian, teacher – consistently checks their Effort Tracker Student Report).