A powerful way to foster enthusiasm and camaraderie among your students may be sitting right in front of you: the students themselves!
Communal goal setting (also referred to as whole group or class goals), simply involves setting a reasonable and measurable goal for your whole class, then monitoring and celebrating milestones as students collectively work towards that achievement.
When using IXL for example, you can set a communal goal for the class to reach proficiency in, say, 300 skills or answer 20,000 questions. You can motivate students with whatever incentives you’ve already found to be effective, such as healthy snacks, extra recess time, or other small prizes. And the goals you set can vary in size, so you might have smaller weekly goals and larger monthly or semester-long goals. Then, celebrate reaching the final goal with a bigger reward, like a class party.
Tracking and sharing your class’ progress on a regular basis is the key to generating and maintaining student buy-in. On IXL, the Analytics Dashboard (particularly the “Skill progress” and “Progress to next milestone” sections) provides a great visual for students to see that their hard work is paying off. Plus, moving toward a clear goal is naturally satisfying for students, like leveling up a character in a video game. You might even take a minute to give some “shoutouts” to students as a way to boost morale (e.g. “I noticed that Rachel mastered 2 skills this week–thanks for helping us reach our goal, Rachel!”).
Finally, you can also use communal goal setting to encourage students to support each other–higher performing students could be tasked with peer-tutoring their classmates, for example. Or, get students involved in setting the goals, which will give them a greater sense of ownership of their learning!