Spark Student Motivation: Participation Signs

Always a favorite topic: how to spark student motivation!! Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching is a MASTER at this! Linking up with her for today's linky party!

Don't you hate when a child is speaking in front of the class or when you're in an assembly and when it is over, your kids just SIT there? Then I'm usually hissing through my teeth, "Applaud! Clap!" and they unenthusiastically give a few (quiet) obligatory claps. To remedy this, I stole copied this brilliant idea from Joanne: participation signs.
I modeled using the signs first, and even when they saw the word, "applause", many of my kids still just stared at me or gave a weak "golf clap". We kept practicing until the WHOLE class would applaud loudly, then stopped when the sign went down. Now whenever anyone is finished speaking front of the class or if a group of children have done something well, we whip out these signs.
What a difference they have made! My class eagerly awaits the signs (we don't use them too often; to keep the novelty!) but now they are LOUD and show their appreciation to the speaker! They also know to stop immediately when the sign goes down.

I explained the signs and asked a kind dad in my class if he would make them for us. He was eager to take it on as "his project"! He printed all 4 on one page in color, then had it blown up to a poster. Next, he cut the the poster into fourths & mounted them onto foam core board, 1 word on each side (so 2 foam core boards). Lastly, he covered them in clear contact paper! We will be using them for years to come!!
How do you ensure class participation?

Click on the button below to check out more ideas to motivate your students!!


  1. Your participation signs are beautiful. You are so lucky to have such an involved and generous parent.

    Quinnessential Lessons

    1. Thanks, Kim! I was so happy when the dad brought them in! And my kids are so motivated to use them!

  2. Yay!!! I'm so excited you added these signs to your classroom! Wait until your students start whipping on the signs for each other on their own! It will warm your heart! I love your action shots too! (Your kids are too cute!) How great that you assigned homework for your parent-brilliant idea! Thanks for linking up and the shout out!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    1. You always have THE best ideas & my kids benefit from you!! Thanks, Joanne!