May 10, 2006

Bribed with a Book?

Is it possible? Did I bribe one of my students to get caught up on her work by dangling a book under her nose? It seems I have!

We've passed around some books by Scott Westerfeld in my classroom this year, and Cassie has been anxiously awaiting the release of The Specials, the third in a trilogy. I'm not ashamed to say that I have been, too! I saw it at Barnes and Nobles last night and just had to buy for it myself (despite the fact that it's in hardback), but I knew it would get mileage around my classroom. I was willing to surrender it (after reading it) to Cassie, but then I thought, "You know, she has a D, which is basically a borderline F, in my class right now. She really needs to spend less time reading, and more time on her studies. Hey! I bet showing her this book will light a fire under her butt."

And it worked like a charm. So far. She ran right over to her desk and starting dragging out half-finished assignments to complete. She has until Friday, or the book gets sent home with one of her classmates instead.

If this scheme works, it will be the first time I have ever bribed a student with a book. Sweet!

**UPDATE: Cassie didn't get all of her work in. She was lacking an essay. The student who was second in line to get the book, David, came bouncing into the classroom Friday saying, "Hand it over! Cassie didn't get all of her work done!"

Now, I hadn't told the David about the deal. I felt kind of bad about not giving the book to him first anyway because he has an easy A and is always so helpful in class. But author Scott Westerfeld is really what sealed the bond between Cassie and me, so she was originally the one I was going to pass it to first. I did tell Cassie that I was going to give it to David if she didn't complete her work, so she must have told him about our little deal.

Later in the class period, when I went to give the book to David, he decided he didn't want to take it. He said that Cassie should have it first, and he had a stack of books at home he needed to read. He'd done some classroom chores for me earlier in the week and wanted to pick something from the goodie file instead. (Frankly, he could have done both!) I asked him if he was just saying that because he felt bad taking it when he knew it meant so much to Cassie, and he solemnly admitted it was true. I shook my head, patted him on the shoulder, and said, "You're a good person."

The book is still sitting on my desk, though. I had to stick to my word. She gets it when she turns in that last essay. I am thankful for Westerfeld publishing the last in the Uglies Trilogy this month. It's probably saved her from failing. Although I have a good repoire with Cassie, sometimes nothing can get her to focus and do her work.

So, in the end, I think the bribe worked pretty well!

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