What are pesos? Well, pesos are money used in many different Spanish-speaking countries. At school, they are a reward as well as students' participation grade.
What are pesos?
To make pesos, look up 1 peso, 5 peso, 10 peso, 20 peso , 50 peso, and 100 peso bills. (Various countries have pesos, and my pesos aren't all from different countries. I think it's actually better that way.) Print out a couple of copies of each of those pesos. By doing this, you can cut out and glue multiple pesos to a sheet of paper. This way, you don't have to waste paper.
Then, make many copies of your pesos on colored paper. All of my 1 pesos are on blue, all of my 5s on another color, 10s on another, and so on. I won't lie... it takes a lot of paper:
- 180 pages of 1s
- 60 pages of 5s
- 40 pages of 10s
- 40 pages of 20s
- 10 pages of 50s
- 5 pages of 100s
I have 6 bills per page. If you did the math, that's over 1000 pesos... and that's JUST counting the ones. Trust me, you'll need it. If you have 25 students per class and only 3 classes, and each of those students has only 5 pesos each, that's 375 pesos. I require my students to have 50 pesos per grading period.
And yes, the cutting is crazy. It took me a LONG time to cut out all of those pesos. But it TRULY is worth all the cutting. Tip: use one of those paper cutters. I messed up a little at first, but after a minute, I really got in the groove and became a peso-cutting machine.
¡OJO! You need some sort of stamp so that students can't make some counterfeit pesos. You may be thinking These kids are not going to go through the trouble of counterfeiting these silly pesos. Oh, yes they will. Buying very distinctive colored paper and stamping each peso helps you know which pesos are truly your pesos. I made the stamp (on the right) using Photoshop and had it made into a stamp using an online store.
How do you use Pesos?
Pesos is used as a participation grade. So many teachers give a grade for participation, and never track participation. Every student gets a 100. That sends a message to students that you really do not have to participate in class, and for many classes, students may not have to. But to learn a language, students HAVE to participate. Language learning is not a passive activity.
So, I (along with the amazing teachers I student taught with) require that students get 50 pesos within a grading period (9 weeks). They begin each semester with 50 imaginary pesos, which acts as an averager. Some students will get 90 pesos, but their grade won't be a 90/50 thanks to those imaginary pesos.
So, how do students get pesos? Participating. Every time a student raises his or her hand and answers a question, that student gets a peso. Usually, the student has to put forth effort and and get the answer somewhere in the arena of correct to get a peso, mostly so that students aren't just raising their hands and giving ridiculous answers just to rack up pesos.
How is this a classroom management tool?
Great question. Couldn't have asked it better myself. While pesos keeps most students active in class, it can also be a deterrent. Every time a student does something that takes away from class participation (talking, off task, day dreaming, without supplies), that student gets the scariest words ever heard from a Spanish teacher: ¡Págame! That's right: they have to pay up. Get out a peso and hand it in.
Sometimes, believe it or not, students can be combative. Some students will start with "BUT So-and-so didn't have to paga you!"--yea, they totally Spanglish up "págame" to fit the sentence in English. In that situation, the count goes up. "Págame dos... tres... cuatro." This not only keeps the teacher from engaging with the student, but also teaches the student that he or she cannot argue his or her way out of a situation. My disclaimer: if you want to discuss your punishment, just pay up and see me after class, and I will gladly discuss it with you.
So, that's pesos. The new best friend to Spanish teachers.