Extra credit can be a great way to motivate your students and help them feel in control of their grades. Here are some tips to help you make extra credit a stress-free and effective addition to your classroom routine.
- Provide standing extra credit opportunities that require no work from you. Writing assignments are good for this. Current event summaries, book reports, one-page essays, short stories, mini-reports–anything students can do on their own, anytime. Just create basic requirements (number of paragraphs, complete sentences, etc) and provide a turn-in box.
- Use materials from your textbook for extra credit. Don’t spend a lot of time hunting down extra credit. Use what you already have: workbooks that aren’t quite suited to the current curriculum, supplemental materials from the textbook, etc. I like to use the reteach/practice sheets from our math book. At the beginning of each chapter, I copy the pages and set them out. Students can take them at their convenience.
- Use online programs for extra credit. MobyMax, Ticket to Read, and SuccessMaker are all good options. They provide a steady stream of leveled material and require little or no input from you. Once in a while (monthly, in my case), see who has done what and decide how much extra credit to reward.
- Create extra credit assignments in the grade book, ready to fill in as needed. I like to create extra credit assignments within a category and leave the grades blank. Input 100% if the students do the assignment. If not, the grade is empty and it doesn’t hurt them. Online grade books want a due date, so I make it for the penultimate day of the quarter. Students who like to track their grades will enjoy filling in the blanks with extra credit.
- Create extra credit opportunities within an assignment. One easy way is to assign the even problems, but offer the odds as extra credit. Make word problems, extended-response questions, or critical thinking questions extra credit. Students will be more motivated to do them than if the problems were required.