For my next inquiry blog, I would like to discuss the whole “star” concept that my colleague, David Dayton, has been using with his 5th and 6th grade band students.

I had been discussing our whole inquiry process with Dave, what our inquiry question was, and what we had hoped to accomplish by the end of this year’s class. Now, Dave and I have been discussing the whole issue of students lack of effort and motivation in our classes for some time now, so really digging into this concept seemed to be the next logical thing to do. Dave has been saying that “maybe if the students reeived some sort of reward it may help” for years. So, we started kicking around some ideas as to what would be an appropriate reward that might get students more motivated to practice their band instruments at home. We discussed extra credit in the gradebook, we discussed special classs privileges, we even discussed a way to give those who practiced a pizza party. None of these really clicked with either one of us. Then Dave said, “what if we just give the students a gold star for every line that they practice in the book; but only if they show by their performance that they have actually worked on it and that they have actually made improvements on it!” This sounded like a great idea to me!!!  So, how was this going to work, anyways??? Dave said, “let me try it with the 5th and 6th grade band students first and see if it works with them. If it does, next year we’ll try it with the 7th and 8th grade band students as well!” So, I asked Dave what exactly would the students have to do in order to earn a star??? He said that each day he was going to allow the students to play certain lines individually for him during class, and again, if they played them well, or could at least demonstrate that they had worked on them and made improvements, that student would be awarded a star. Dave also printed up wallposter-sized charts with all of the students names on them – he printed up a chart with all of his 5th graders names on it, and one with all of his 6th graders names on it. Once he started putting stars on these, students started counting how many stars they had, as well as counting the number of stars that their classmates had earned. Now it had officially become a contest!!! Students became very competitive with each other in seeing who could earn the most stars. So far this concept seems to be getting the students tol practice more outside of the classroom, which in turn is improving their individual playing abilities. Next year, Dave and I will try this with the 7th and 8th grade band students and see if we get the same results!!!