Effective Reward System for Online Students

06:34 Amy 11 Comments


How do you keep online students enthusiastic about your class?

A cat with no eyes, no ears, no mouth, no arms, and no legs.



Don't worry - that wasn't a really bad joke. It's a kickass reward system for your online students. If you don't teach online yet, check out Dada ABC. They pay up to $25 an hour and are a great company to work for - from your own home! Awww yeah.

Some teachers make intricate reward systems with laminated sheets and moving parts on string - and that's amazing! But using an empty cat is an amazingly effective and incredibly easy reward system for any online teacher. It takes seconds to set up and most students adore it. You know when you give a small kid the latest fancy toy to play with and then they spend hours pretending to be an astronaut in the box? Yeah... sometimes simple things are best.

Here's how the empty cat reward system works:


Step One: prepare.

Fold a piece of A4 paper into four quarters. This one piece of paper is good for four classes.

Step Two: draw an empty cat.

Draw a round head and body in one quarter. Add a love heart shaped nose, six whiskers, and a tail. Easy. Fast. Super cute.


Step Three: show the empty cat.

Say hi to your student like you normally would. Suddenly, look shocked and confused. "Oh! Oh my... what IS this!?" Show your empty cat to your webcam.

Step Four: ask what's going on.

Sepending on your online student's ability, they will either say nothing at all or say it's a cat.

Respond like this: "Yes, this is a cat! But... oh no... what is missing?" Depending on your student's ability they will either say nothing, say "EYE!" or something similar, or give a comprehensive list of all the missing cat parts.

Step Five: explain your reward system.

"When you try very hard in class today, we will draw on the cat!"

Hold up a pen and mimic drawing.

"We will draw together. We will draw eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and legs!" Sometimes they don't have a clue what you just said, but sometimes they do. Get into your teaching groove as soon as you finish explaining.

Step Six: draw cat parts on the empty cat.

Dada ABC teachers can reward up to five gold stars in every class for good English or good effort.

Whenever you reward your student with a gold star, say, "Yayyy! Let's draw the  cat!" Draw one cat part every time you give a gold star, e.g. two ears the first time, two eyes the second, one mouth the third, and so on.

How involved your student gets depends on their English ability. If your student is capable you can ask things like, "What shall we draw first?"

You can ask for further input if your online student is up to it: "Is the cat happy or sad?" and draw the mouth according to their answer. "Big ears or small ears?" Get creative! It should take less than 10 seconds to draw each cat part. Talk about each cat part you draw: "How many eyes?" or "Is he cute or ugly?", etc.

Step Seven: who IS the cat?

when class is almost finished and you just drew the last cat part, talk about the finished cat. What is his name? How old is he? Why is he happy? Whatever you want!

Obviously, you can adapt the empty cat reward system for each online student's preference.


If you don't know already, ask what their favourite animal is so you can draw an empty version of that instead. It could be a dog, a dolphin, a horse - anything.

Can't draw well? No worries. It's surprisingly easy to draw animals when you think about them as just shapes. A cat is two circles. So is a dog. A hamster is just a cloud shape with a smiley face and round ears. Cat ears are just triangles and dog ears are just soft banana shapes. Even if you do a bad job your students will love it - they'll probably just laugh and have fun with you about your wonky cat!

Google-search "simple clipart hamster" or "simple drawing dog" for all the guidance you need!

Let me know if you try this and love it! Which empty animals do you love drawing?

She's pretty sure these posts will be your cup of tea:

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