How to Encourage Students to Do Their Best Work

Are you tired of students asking you if their work is "good enough"? Or asking what grade they would receive if they turned their work in "even if it's not all done?". Or students asking why they received a poor mark because they "did it"? After a few years of teaching I came up with an easy way to explain it using a PIZZA ANALOGY. I knew my students could relate to pizza!!

So I started talking about their work in terms of a pizza and lo and behold they totally 'got it'! Here's how it works... I ask my students to imagine that their assignment is to make me a pizza. Seems simple enough right? Just make a pizza and turn it into me. However, once we start to delve into it a little more my students realize that there were several options available when making the pizza. They could simply turn in a basic cheese pizza or they could turn in a deluxe pizza and even throw in a soda for a little extra. We talk about how the person who makes a deluxe pizza (with the soda!) has done more work, put in more effort and gone beyond the basics! We even talk about the fact that some students would not even get their pizza finished in time or would have only gathered the ingredients... but not put the pizza together. It does not take long for them to realize that I'm relating their effort in class to the number of toppings they put on their pizza!

I created a series of posters to help students relate their work effort to the toppings on a pizza and the posters have made a huge difference in my class and how my students talk about their work. They often come in to the class and ask each other where they are on the pizza rubric and I hear them talking about how many toppings they included! Or where they are on the rubric... "Dude, I made a deluxe pizza, my project is totally topped up!". I often have to turn away and have a little giggle... to hear my high school students (mostly boys) talking like this just puts a smile on my face!

 The nice thing about the pizza rubric is that it works for any assignment and any subject - I teach a variety of classes (ELA, SS, and Science) and have used it successfully in all subject areas! In fact, many other teachers have my school are using it too and so the students have really bought into it. It's a great way to introduce a Growth Mindset and the idea that putting forth their best effort will yield good results. I often ask the students to self assess their work before turning it in and explain to me where they think they should be on the rubric. Here's the link to the poster set in my TpT store - I hope you find this as helpful in your classroom as I've found it in mine!

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