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Helping students to recognize their unique strengths and distinguishing qualities as individuals is one of the most fulfilling aspects of teaching. I know, for me at least, this kind of reflection always comes at the end of the school year. Only at the end, it seems, can we look back and realize how far everyone has come. The classroom is a community where every student has something unique to offer. How can we convey this to the class? My favorite way is by celebrating students with awards. Below are 9 creative award ideas that you can use to celebrate your students:
Each year, I find myself creating a new set of end of the year awards to add to my collection as a way of rewarding students for who they are as people, grades aside. I like to explore different themes for awards, and although these were created with the end of the year in mind, I also love to share them throughout the year when I want to recognize a student.
You might remember Most Likely To awards from your own school days. If so, you might also remember them as not always being so nice…When I use Most Likely To awards as a theme in my classroom, it’s always with total sincerity in mind. You, too, should keep sincerity in mind when you are assigning these types of awards. The goal here is to genuinely make the students feel good about themselves.
Here are a few examples of awards I like to use with this theme:
You can give your students poignant and meaningful awards while simultaneously teaching them about idioms—phrases whose established meanings are not deducible from their individual words.
It can be a good idea, with idiom awards to include a short explanation of why the student is receiving the award to avoid any chance of confusion. This will allow your students to feel recognized while also adding lots of new idioms to their speech and writing. These work particularly well with students who are learning English as a second language.
See examples in the picture below!
Famous people awards are awards inspired by influential historical figures, from Emily Dickinson to Gandhi. This is a really fun theme that I highly recommend! With these awards, you’ll inspire your students while also getting them to brush up on their history at the same time. Is there a student with a particular gift for writing in your class who would be an appropriate fit for the Shakespeare award? Is there someone who really ‘lights up’ the classroom every time they walk in? They might be a good fit for the Thomas Edison award!
Metaphor awards use a metaphor (direct comparison) to describe a student’s personality. For example, the puzzle award goes to a student who is a problem-solver. Or, the Yoga Award goes to a student who is a flexible thinker. You can look at some of the other metaphor awards I have used in the past in the picture below.
Alliteration awards are particularly fitting for the ELA classroom. These awards are made out of alliterative phrases like “Fantastic Friend” and “Talented Techie.” The alliteration awards are a playful way of celebrating your students and the subject of English at the same time.
No pun here, I promise. I will leave that to you—or to my pun awards! Pun awards a are sure way to get your students to roll their eyes, but they’re also a sure way to make them smile, however reluctantly. You’ll be smiling, too, as you assign these to them! Here are a few examples of pun awards you might use:
Since your students are likely hashtagging everything, you can bring that interest into the classroom with hashtag inspired awards. If you don’t know what hashtags are, they are used online to connect to a broader conversation using a keyword or phrase. So, you can connect with your students using hashtag-themed awards. The image below will give you some ideas of hashtags you might use.
Animal awards are another way that you can make a connection to students’ personalities. Can you think of which student leader you might compare to the lion? Or which of your students already seems to have the wisdom of an owl?
This is the last, but certainly not the least, of the 9 creative ideas for student awards. Food awards use food to describe a student’s personality. You might even choose to give out food awards during a class potluck. Here are a few examples of food awards you might use:
DIGITAL STUDENT AWARDS
Just as a side note, you can use student awards in any learning context! Student awards are easily adaptable to a virtual setting, and they can be provided an excellent added source of connection to your distance classroom. In another blog, I explain “How to Share Student Awards Digitally.”
The first volume of idiom awards received some great feedback, so I decided to make a second volume, which you can check out by clicking here. You might also be interested in using alphabet student awards, which are personalized awards based around the letters of the alphabet (such as the Ambitious Award for A and the Bravery Award for B). Check those out by clicking here.
I hope these awards help you to make your students feel special and inspired!
You and your colleagues likely deserve some awards of your own. If you’re interested, check out my “Tips for Hosting a FUN Teacher Awards Ceremony.” Best of luck with the rest of the school year!
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