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2011 Tech Day: Laura Markslag 

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Laura Markslag

Name cards: Motivating Classes through Individual Accountability

By: Laura Markslag

All too often learners arrive late, unprepared and unwilling to actively participate in class. In my presentation I explained how name cards can be used to improve learners’ attendance, pre-class preparation, in-class performance and overall motivation using a single piece of paper: a student’s name card.

Name cards, in my experience, are one of the quickest way and easiest ways for teacher to learn their students’ names. On the front of the card we have the students’ names. What goes on the back? Well, over the past few years I have added little bits of information to the back of the name cards to make them more than just a way to identify students.

Please open the attachment HERE and have a look at the name card while reading the following explanation. These cards have a calendar on the back with an ABC under each day there is a scheduled class. Students are explained that they should circle A if they Arrive on time, B if they bring their Books, and C if they Complete their homework. These three elements of classroom management are essential for ensuring students are ready for the day’s lesson. Students are advised that each letter is worth one point, so that if they circle A, B, and C then they get their three participation points for the day and that the teacher is satisfied. This ensures students are accountable for their own preparedness and saves the teacher time writing down who did/did not arrive on time, did/did not bring their books, or did or did not do their homework.

The forth element, motivation, is awarded in the form of bonus points. Each time a student volunteers for a role play, writes an answer on the board, or does something else the teacher deems bonus point worthy they write that point on their name card. Bonus points can also be awarded for the winners of group quizzes and other group activities. The way to earn bonus points is up to the teacher and the possibilities are endless. At the end of the lesson or week students add up all the points (ABC plus motivation) to see how they have done. I encourage my students to aim for five points a day. This becomes the guideline for the students’ participation score in the class.

These name cards have a few additional bonuses. First of all, they allow the teacher to randomly assign student seating/groups in the classroom. Some how the chatty students always happen to sit near the teacher. Secondly, once the class begins the teacher walks around the room collecting name cards that have not been claimed. This allows the teacher to figure out which students are missing within a matter of seconds instead of the long process of calling out all the names on the student list. Finally, cards can be personalized with hobbies, club membership, travel experience, etc., of the students. This helps the teacher remember a few special things about each student.

To summarize, name cards are a fantastic way to encourage students to become accountable for their own learning. They can motivate students to participate more actively and allow them to keep track of their own participation. They also allow teachers to spend less time on logistics and more time working on language learning. Name cards are, without doubt, an essential tool in my classroom.

Laura Markslag (M.S.Ed Temple University) is an EFL lecturer at Osaka Gakuin University. She is interested in vocabulary acquisition and assessment, multilingualism and the development of motivating classroom materials.

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