Pathway Rewards - Engaging and Motivating Secondary Rewards for the Online ESL Classroom

Pathway rewards are my new OBSESSION in my online classroom. And, luckily for me, my students love them just as much as I do!

I’ve been using pathway rewards for some time now and I want to share with you how I use them in my online ESL lessons and why I love them so much! 

But, before we start using pathway rewards in class, we need to get them ready. Here’s how.

Preparing Pathway Rewards

Preparing a pathway reward is really simple. That’s one of the reasons that I love them so much. All you need to do is download the file to your computer and print the reward board (the page with the pathway on it). You’ll also need to print the page with the tokens that you’ll use to play the game. I recommend that you print both of these pages on cardstock, not regular paper. This will make your reward system more durable and ensure that it lasts longer!

You have a few options for printing the reward. You can print at home, use a local print shop or use an online printing service such as Shutterfly. Personally, I print all of my reward systems at home. I use my $200 desktop printer (which I’ve had forever) and it works great! It’s quick and simple and the colors come out vibrant and bright every single time. After printing, cut out the tokens.

I like to laminate my reward systems as I am rough with my props and they get a LOT of use. However, it is entirely up to you. If you do choose to laminate, use a laminating pouch with a matt finish, not a high gloss finish. This will help to minimize glare and make the reward system easier for your students to see.

HINT: If you don’t have the time or just can’t be bothered (don't worry, I totally get it!) to print and cut out the tokens- don’t! Instead of using the printable tokens provided, use items that you probably already have lying around your house as tokens instead. Fridge magnets, counters, Lego pieces, mini erasers, and small rocks and pebbles from the garden work great!

How to Use Pathway Reward Systems in Your Online ESL Classes

First, you need to place the reward board on a clipboard or a hand-held magnetic whiteboard. Then put something sticky on the back of the tokens so that they can be stuck to the board. Double-sided tape or Blu-Tack works great. If you’re using a magnetic whiteboard, you can attach a small magnet to the back of the tokens instead.

Make sure you have a dice handy. You can use a physical dice or a digital dice on your smartphone. A simple google search for "roll dice" will bring one up. 

At the beginning of class, hold up the reward for your student to see. Introduce any relevant vocabulary and explain to your student that the goal is to reach the end of the pathway before the lesson is over! For example- if I was using the Beehive Pathway Reward, I would explain to my student that they need to get the bee to the beehive by the end of the lesson.

Periodically throughout the lesson, stop for a break and reward your student. Roll the dice and move the students token along the pathway.  

Each pathway reward system has four objects scattered along the pathway. For example, there are four snowflakes scattered along the path in the Ice Princess Pathway Reward. 

You choose what happens when your student lands on one of these objects. You could have them move back two spaces, move forward one space, go back to the start or answer a question. It’s entirely up to you. Decide at the beginning of your class and make sure your student knows what will happen when they land on the objects.

More Ideas For Using Pathway Reward Systems

  • Use the pathway reward system as a game! Place two tokens on the board and take turns with your student to roll the dice and move forward that many spaces. Your students will love racing you to the end of the pathway. This makes a great warm-up activity and is the perfect filler for those last few minutes of class. 

  • Teaching multiple students at the same time? Give them each a token and let them race each other. This can be used as a warm-up at the very start of class, as a reward throughout the lesson or as a filler activity for the last few minutes of class.

  • Incorporate sight word or vocabulary practice into the reward system. To do this you will need to laminate the reward board. After laminating, write a sight word or a vocabulary word on each square. When the student lands on a square, they have to read the word correctly to stay there. If they read the word incorrectly they have to move back one space.

  • Have students count with you as you move along the board. This is great practice for younger students who are just getting to know numbers in English.

  • Get creative with the objects placed on the pathway. When your student lands on one of the objects, have them complete a task or answer a question to stay there. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. The question could be related to the theme of the board (ie. bees, aliens, dinosaurs) or you could make it relevant to the theme of the lesson.

How do you like to use pathway rewards in your online classroom?? I'd love to hear your ideas! Share in the comments below and we can all learn from each other!
 

Not using pathway rewards yet? Get started today! Check out the range available in the Spark ESL resource store HERE.

Or, if you’re an avid Etsy shopper, you can buy directly from the Spark ESL Shop on Etsy! Check it out HERE.   

 


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