“The stickers at that time were black and white, a nightmare to print and (compared to today) pretty unsophisticated designs!” But as he used the stickers and saw the reaction he got – both from pupils and other teachers he showed them to – he knew he had a hit on his hands. From there, School Stickers was born!
Classroom Carrots and School Stickers:
School Stickers was founded by Chemistry Teacher Daniel Laurence in 2000. Whilst teaching in an inner city school in Birmingham, Dan found himself constantly looking for products to help motivate his pupils. In the end – unable to find anything good enough – Dan designed and printed his own stickers. Stickers to motivate pupils and stickers to help with marking. Classroom Carrots, its online reward tool, was launched in 2013.
I have always been a sucker for a sticker! Once, my Headteacher visited my classroom to reward me with a ‘Well Done‘ sticker (in front of my students!) and gently placed it upon my jacket lapel. Unbelievably awkward, but I’d be lying if a warm glow didn’t consume my insides…
Journal: 16th April 2013:
Today, I introduced School Stickers to my Year 8 History class and introduced them to the online rewards tool, Classroom Carrots. This is a class I have struggled with to be honest, so I’ve been thinking of any means to increase participation and motivation, without resorting to didactic teaching methods.
Nonetheless, the students are learning and making progress and I am now starting to enjoy teaching the subject more often. I find, that no matter what the content, the lesson can always rely on this simply formula: Good planning = good teaching = good learning.
I chose this group of students to trial Classroom Carrots and School Stickers with, simply because of the landscape of students within the group. I will refrain from describing them here, simply because their characteristics will be recognisable in any inner-city classroom across the country, and for data-protection reasons, I’m sure you will all agree, this is the obvious approach to take!
Over the Easter break, my tailored pack of stickers had arrived in the post. Quite a reasonable cost too. My login details for Classroom Carrots were also provided and I set about logging in to the system and following some very straightforward instructions to get my online rewards tool (class) setup.
To launch the use of School Stickers with this group, I felt that I needed to pitch the introduction for the resource, very carefully to avoid any low-level behaviour. It was vital to do this very subtly (experience does help) and of course, ensure that ‘having a sticker’ would be very desirable!
Introduction to the class:
“Good morning year 8. Today I will be introducing to you, a very reliable and simple reward system to this class. You will be the ‘only’ students in the whole school who will be receiving them in my lessons. However, I do intend on being incredibly tough with my reward allocation, and you will need to work ‘very hard’ in order to achieve this!”
Today, wait for it… [long pause] I will be handing out 4 types of… stickers!
[Initial classroom groan; followed by very low-level discussions for and against their use].
[The class eventually settled down after an experienced pause.] The categories I will be rewarding you for are:
- Independent Learning and,
- Progress (which will be the hardest sticker to achieve).
You will see from the photograph above, that the sticker samples shown, can be embellished with the school name and personalised for the teacher. This is a great touch.
Immediately [once this was mentioned], there was a shift in attitude in the classroom. Clearly, some for and against the idea. I can only imagine this paradigm of opinion was simply down to the credibility of a sticker. However, it was my full intention to emphasise their importance and value…and by return, expect the students to do likewise.
No revolution I hear you cry!?
Yes! Stickers have been donning the cover of school exercise books well before my time at school in the early 70’s; and with the introduction of ‘other’ online reward tools, the competition, relevance and suitability for students and classrooms of today, put stickers on the back foot!
However, School Stickers have their own online reward tool, Classroom Carrots, which works superbly with the stickers. This makes the resource a great choice for the classroom. It was at this point, I chose to showcase Classroom Carrots and how the system works alongside the actual stickers. (However, you may opt to do this the other way!).
This video below explains how Classroom Carrots works for students. It is less than one minute and well worth watching. You may even want to show students the video yourself before introducing the system (which I recommend for 5-14 year-olds):
Journal: 16th April 2013 continued:
I set students off to work on a task and set about conducting a termly review of progress with students 1-2-1. This provided me with enough time to recap on assessments; reports and progress made in class since the beginning of the academic year. A typical lesson really…
No sooner had I started mentoring individuals, the conversations soon shifted from;
‘Sir, can I have another sticker?’
‘Which sticker do I get?’ and ‘Why?’
Even with the simplest technique, students who had initially barked at the beauty of a sticker, were soon proudly adorning their reward on the front cover of their books, or alongside a piece of work that they were currently re-drafting. They then begged me to update the online website to see their own (digital) character be rewarded. Excitement and tension rocketed!
It was tough call, but for the first introductory lesson; I managed to meet with all 30 students and provide them with 1 sticker from 1 of my 4 categories. I fully intend on making the criteria much harder when I see them next week.
Journal: 24th April 2013:
I introduced School Stickers to another Year 8 class today. Having just moved on the Design Technology carousel, this was only the 4th time that I had ever taught this group (ever)! It felt like September all over again. Routines and expectations are still in the midst of being established and modeled. So, this was also another very good opportunity to introduce the sticker system to the group.
For the first time, I considered offering the stickers as rewards – there and then – for student feedback. What I mean by this, is after an initial 15 minutes of teaching, I was already scouring the classroom for evidence and rewards after probing into the mind of each student.
The stickers were introduced again and again, then placed on a pedestal alongside our very own credible debits and credits system in school – which is essentially are online points – used via our Management Information System.
As in the earlier introduction on 16th April, the context for awarding the stickers was provided to the class; alongside the classwork and each of the four stickers I was trailing. Having a visualiser in the room, I placed the four types of stickers under the camera and described each one and the criteria for them being handed out to students as a reward. You can imagine how over-dramatic I was…
The Classroom Carrots and School Stickers website and video were to be introduced to this class next lesson. An example of how the system works from a teacher-perspective, is shown below:
Journal: 26th April 2013:
Having introduced School Stickers to my Year 8 History class on the 16th April (10 days ago), I decided to limit the number of sticker rewards allocated in today’s lesson. The reasoning behind this, was that I wanted to create a sense of accomplishment for having been awarded a sticker.
Using a single strip of stickers, I ripped a section away from the main body of paper. This of course came with a bravado announcement and a touch of drama! (The rest of the sticker packs were tucked away into my teacher-planner.)
I had selected 5 ‘progress’ stickers and carefully folded one sticker, slightly ajar from the backing sheet. I then pinned the strip 5 stickers-rewards to the whiteboard to give them a high visibility. The precarious position I selected, and the fragility for such an important reward, only exaggerated their momentary life in my keep and a stronger desire in the students to want them! (Another touch of drama)
Journal: 1st May 2013:
After a follow-up History lesson with Year 8, the appropriate stickers were provided to students. All students very motivated and on task. At the end of the lesson, I decided to provide stickers to a number of students as they left the classroom.
I deliberately pinned each sticker to their uniform for exposure across the school … As a result, this subversive decision ensured a cause for motivation and pride in the students. It worked really well. I even had a queue of students not wanting to leave until they were suitably rewarded; including students who were told they had not done enough to earn a sticker reward! (See photo of books and uniform below).
At the end of the lesson. student profiles were updated online. I made a note to myself; that motivation could be further increased, if I allocated the relevant reward online (in the first instance) followed by a physical sticker. This would be far easier than a quick dash at the end of the lesson, when you are expecting another class …
After 5 or 6 lessons of using the resources, they were both starting to show signs of impact and demonstrate a positive-change in student engagement and motivation. School Stickers were clearly making a difference to student contributions in class and using Classroom Carrots online, helped improve the classroom ethos.
As for my challenging Year 8 History class; well, I enjoy teaching them even more and they are so disappointed when I (occasionally) forget to bring the stickers to the classroom! This is easily resolved by logging into the Classroom Carrots website, using your own dedicated account for rewarding as many teaching groups as you want. The software provides historical and visual data, so that you can easily keep track of performance, allocated rewards and progress. Or in my case, allocate the physical stickers retrospectively!
If you would like to see more about how Classroom Carrots works online, then there are a good selection of videos here: