It has been a hard journey for everyone since “the-pandemic-which-we’ve-heard-too-much-about” has hit. Everyone is trying to adjust to the “new normal”.

Walnut School students are no different. They have not only taken up online subject classes very well, but also been very enthusiastic about our activities which we have conducted so far (a post about that soon).

At Walnut, we have a culture of continuously challenging ourselves on how we can keep ALL our students engaged in the process of learning. Typically, the motivated students don’t need to be pushed, but they are always a very small minority. The other large percentage of students, however, need constant coaxing, and pushing. In normal school times, this would happen with our teachers talking to these students individually and roping in parents if necessary. With school now online, our teachers continue this practice, by calling students individually over the phone and talking to them every week! This itself is a huge logistical task which we manage effectively using technology.

But, the final frontier is getting the students to be motivated from within (“driven”, so to say). That got us thinking on how we could “generate” motivation so to say in all our students to learn and be prompt?

The final frontier is getting the students to be motivated from within!

Answer: Gamification of learning

The obvious answer is: “gamification of learning”. Introducing puzzles and games based on the content is the standard way to go ahead (we already have a ton of that – a full post about that coming up too!). In reality, puzzles and games, though highly effective, eat up a lot of time. Covering the whole portion as it is (especially in higher classes), is an uphill task. What could be done to motivate students for “normal” lectures and assignments, especially now, when lectures are all online? One way was to keep talking to them – which is always work in progress. We found another way… the effects of which far exceeded our expectations.

A one of a kind award system, called Walnut Talents!

What are Walnut Talents?

They are a form of Walnut currency, which are given to students who satisfy certain conditions. The purpose is to encourage hard work, regularity, discipline and self-improvement in the students – be it studying or participation or behaviour! We rolled out the Walnut Talents programme at the end of the academic year of 2019-20, and it was a huge success. All our students right from Nursery, up to Std. 10, can earn Walnut Talents.

What do students do with their earned Walnut Talents?

Talents are points that students can redeem for goodies in the “Walnut Store”. Students earn these talents and “spend” them on things which they like – and we have made a list of things available to them. Things which they *love* – be it sparkly pens, or prank toys 🙂
Since school is still not physically open, students can accumulate their Talents and redeem them once their routine gets to normal. Talents can be collected across years – they don’t expire!

How have students taken it?

Very enthusiastically! We have never seen such involvement from students in anything (well, other than events :-)). Homework submissions have been regular, attendance in classes has been regular. In fact, most of the students even submit their assignments on time to earn more Walnut Talents!

There are 3 major qualities that help in a success story – hard work, regularity and consistently maintaining good quality of work. Walnut Talents encourage these on a daily basis. It does not replace prizes for toppers, those are still in place. Walnut Talents are rewards for being a “good student”.

Anything done long enough becomes a habit and in these moldable years, the students are picking up good habits for a lifetime which will stick with them through their higher education and career and will give them an edge over the majority!

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