Using "High Fives" to Enhance Student Motivation in a Blended Classroom

Educator effectively embeds strategies and techniques into their instruction and classroom culture to create a recognition system for eSpark or Frontier.
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About this Micro-credential

Note: This micro-credential requires the use of the eSpark platform. Eligibility is restricted to teachers in districts participating in eSpark’s micro-credentialing program. For more information, visit:

Key Method

Using eSpark or Frontier and the accompanying resources for teachers – such as the weekly email alert – the educator incorporates student motivation strategies into the classroom culture to create a positive recognition system.

Method Components

What are Student “High Fives”?

In eSpark, students receive eSpark “High Fives” every time they complete a quest with 80% or higher on their post-quiz. Additionally, teachers are notified of the “High Fives” in their weekly email alerts. Using these “High Fives,” educators can establish a positive recognition system to keep their students motivated.

In Frontier, students receive “High Fives” every time they complete a Frontier. Additionally, teachers can track the student “High Fives” on their teacher dashboard. Using these “High Fives,” educators can establish a positive recognition system to keep their students motivated.

Why Use Student “High Fives”?

eSpark and Frontier classrooms that implement positive behavior management and recognition systems often have greater success than those who do not. Using various research-based techniques, an educator can influence the culture of her/his classroom and impact the motivation of individual students both during eSpark or Frontier time and outside of it using “High Fives.”

Components of an Incentive System that Enhances Student Motivation

An effective recognition or incentive system includes the following components:

  • Precise praise. Make your praise and recognition of students who earned high fives as specific as possible.
  • Public recognition or “props.” Celebrate high-quality individual student work on eSpark or Frontier publicly with your whole class.
  • Visuals of progress. Give students an opportunity to visually track their progress. This can be in an individual sticker chart, classroom sticker chart, graph, collection, etc.
  • Classroom routines and procedures. Ensure that students know the routines and procedures for celebrating high fives. Transitions should be tight, expectations should be clear, and the routine should be consistent. These routines often require scaffolding.
  • Plan to measure the success of your system. As you determine how the components above will look in your classroom, also map out how you will know if this recognition system has been successful.

For more information about using eSpark in your school or classroom, see the Resources section below.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

It cannot be denied that differentiation can have a tremendous impact on student motivation (Subban, 2006). The principles of blended learning align with many of the practices educators use to motivate their students both extrinsically and intrinsically. As student motivation has a tremendous influence on a given student’s academic success and progress, augmenting behavior management strategies and systems to support and amplify blended learning is essential (Zepeda et al., 2015). Teachers can do this by using high fives.

  • Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc Pub.


Essential Information

Additional Resources

  • Ferlazzo, L.(2016, February 26). Cultivating a Positive Environment for Students.
  • Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc Pub ch.,7.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Part 1 and a “Yes” for the artifacts submitted for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(800-word limit total):

  • State your name, school name, and school district name (optional).

In this overview, consider the questions below. Provide a description of what you want this recognition system to look like and how you will implement it and measure its success. If you already have an eSpark or Frontier recognition/incentive system in place, provide a description of how you would like to see this system improved.

How will you know if this recognition system is successful?

  • Why did you want to create a recognition system in your classroom?
  • What changes in behavior or outcomes in eSpark or Frontier did you want to see?
  • What role should this have in the culture of your classroom?

What will your classroom “High Fives” look like?

  • Based on the videos you watched, how do you want to structure high fives in your classroom? What should it look like?
  • Why did you choose this approach?
  • When does this recognition happen in your schedule? What day of the week?

How do you want to introduce and implement this system?

  • What do you expect from students when you give them high fives publicly?
  • What do you expect from other students when they are not receiving high fives? What routines need to be established to be able to have students do this safely and successfully?
  • How do you want to model these expectations and routines for students?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

The educator must submit pictures (if you choose to submit photos, you should submit multiple photos) or video evidence of their recognition system. This should also include a step-by-step explanation (in a Word document) of the mechanics of the system. The evidence submitted should answer the question “What does your incentive/recognition system look like?”

In your explanations, describe how each piece of this system will address the changes/behaviors you want to see

Example: Photograph from Step 1 of the recognition system

Explanation underneath

Photograph from Step 2 of the recognition system

Explanation underneath

Part 3. Educator Feedback (Optional)

(100-word limit):

  • On a scale of 0-10, how useful do you think this micro-credential was? What reflections or suggestions about the content or composition of the micro-credential can you share that would help us make it even more effective or valuable?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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