Tomorrow is our 100th day of school, and my students will have no more than 100 words they can use. Students will have post-it notes on their desks to keep track of their words, and they will need to tally EVERY WORD that they say. The reward is that I will give them a ticket for every five words they have said under 100 at the end of the day. The penalty is that they will give me a ticket for every five words over 100 they say. So, if a student has said only 70 words by the end of the day, he or she will earn 6 tickets from me. If another student says 110 words by the end of the day, he or she will owe me 2 tickets.
There are exceptions, of course. I do not count the words they use if they ask me a school-related question, nor do I count the words they use when I call on them to answer any questions I ask. When I am meeting with students in a small group (or students are meeting in a literature circle) and we are having a discussion, I won't count the words they use there because I want them to participate and ask questions. I also don't have them keep count of words at recess or lunch so they can socialize. Other than those parameters, students need to choose words carefully so that they do not go over 100 words.
I have tried this with my fourth graders last year and my third graders the year before that. You would think that this would be a punishment for the students, but they LOVE it. It is such a challenge to students to try and find other ways to communicate. They hold each other accountable, and they are pretty honest about keeping track of their words. Best of all, they are incredibly well-behaved - even the ones who are normally very social during instruction.
So, tomorrow we will be celebrating...fourth grade style. It will truly be a surprise, and hopefully one that we will all remember for a long time!