2017-03-16 / Front Page

LCES students learn real life values through classroom initiative payday


Brayden Wiggins enjoys a brownie that he purchased as a part of his “payday,” which a special classroom initiative that teaches fourth-grade students the values of real life. Brayden Wiggins enjoys a brownie that he purchased as a part of his “payday,” which a special classroom initiative that teaches fourth-grade students the values of real life. Teachers at Lincoln County El­ementary School are taking a unique – if not fun – approach to classroom management that increases student desire to participate by employing a method coined as “payday.” The incentive has created a “paycheck” system based on good grades and overall classroom behavior that is rewarded every four weeks, when progress reports are due, hence the payday.

Given the ingenuity of this “real life” approach for students, the fourth grade math and science class, co-taught by Amanda Sandifer and Nancy Pund, will be featured on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s blog “Education Matters.” Even students agree, describing payday as being “so much fun,” and “the coolest thing.”


iden Tashiro and Gracie Thompson diligently work on their daily as­signment while enjoying their class’s “payday,” which teaches these fourth-grade students the values of hard work, along with real life skills. iden Tashiro and Gracie Thompson diligently work on their daily as­signment while enjoying their class’s “payday,” which teaches these fourth-grade students the values of hard work, along with real life skills. “Managing our co-taught class­room to teach math and science to fourth-graders in the afternoon had become a struggle, not so much because the children misbehaved, but rather because they lost focus and became disorganized in the afternoon,” Pund said.

Sandifer agreed, saying that “it’s made a big difference in graded assignments, especially since they don’t have grades at home, so it’s more of an incentive for them, and it helps to keep them motivated. They’re able to keep up with things like their notebook or assignments, plus they take pride in their owner­ship of their payouts.”

Payday employs the sum of five grades that create “student pay­checks,” which can add up to a pos­sible $500 on the scale. The students must then subtract a flat fee of $300 for living expenses, however they may also receive bonuses for their classroom dojo points, and are fined for lost assignments, noise viola­tions, and failure to comply.

“We record violations in a receipt book and pass them out on payday,” Pund said, explaining that on pay­day students may take their earnings and purchase certain goodies and treats at that time, including that the prices for goodies, just as in real life, are inflated.

“It’s $50 for one of my famous gooey brownies, but the students love it,” Pund said.

Through employing the payday method, the results have yielded more focused students and a quieter classroom.

“Best of all, our students have be­come more responsible,” Pund said “If you’re going to be fined for a lost assignment, you are more likely to put it somewhere where you can find it. Students are working harder because a low grade means less money on payday.”

Furthermore, the process of en­tering student information into the check register employs a practical application of basic skills.

All in all, Sandifer and Pund con­cur that eight class periods a year are experiencing a taste of real life, which helps their students have a better chance at attaining a lifetime of success.

The fourth-grade payday was derived from a strategy called “Real Life,” which Pund devised for her resource class when she taught high school.

At the high school level, the stu­dents received a grade based on an hourly wage – 85 percent equalled $8.50 for a 40-hour week – and they were docked for absences, fined for rule violations, and charged a fee for lost pencils, assignments, or books.

Students also paid rent for their desks, and utilities for computer use. What they had left over could be used to purchase food and trinkets that were supplied on paydays.

“By the end of the year we were figuring percentages for taxes and interest on saving,” Pund said. “The students were required to put 10 per­cent into savings before they could spend anything. The expense for this, eight times a year at progress reports and report cards, was more than worth the results.”

As a result, Real Life produced a classroom that had no dress code violations, improved attendance behavior, as well as motivated stu­dents to improve their grades.

“One student moved away mid- year and wrote me a letter saying ‘I sure do miss those paydays,’” Pund said. “Many of my former high school students, who are now adults, have said these lessons have benefitted them in real life and have helped them to be successful adults.”

Return to top