Buddy Bucks Help Take the Stress out of Unit Tests

Buddy Bucks give kids a lifeline during unit tests and is my new strategy this year for helping take some of the stress out of testing. Though they cannot be used during state tests, of course, my hope is that using this strategy will help ease test anxiety and build confidence so that by the time the state test rolls around, my students will not feel as much of the stress associated with taking tests.

What Are Buddy Bucks?

This summer, I started thinking about ways I could improve my instruction and provide better learning experiences for my students. I re-evaluated my own classroom environment to make sure it was free of distractions and was inviting and clutter free.

My room was already set up with tables for cooperative learning experiences because working together supports memory. All work and activities are done in groups - except during unit tests.

While I understand the need to assess students individually, I wondered if there was a way I could make testing less stressful and more interactive. I was also interested in ways to strengthen the spirit of cooperation and team work in my class.

I asked my husband who teaches Computer Integrated Machining at Tri County Community College if he and his students could make coins for my new project. As you can see from the picture below, they did so - with amazing results!



At the beginning of the nine weeks, each student receives two coins. They may also earn additional coins throughout the year by demonstrating a spirit of cooperation in some way.

Coins may be redeemed during any test by presenting the coin to me. At that time the student may ask for help with one test item from either me or (preferably) another student. The only question he may not ask is, "What is the answer?"

Paper money may be used as well as coins so for your convenience I have created some bills which you may print for your own use by clicking on the image below.


Buddy Bucks can help relieve test anxiety.


My students are excited about their newly found "wealth," and I hope yours will be, too.



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Partnerships for Learning

Cooperative learning means that children work together to solve problems. Within the classroom this involves conversations, which means students remember what they are learning.

Forming partnerships with other classes, schools, and businesses enriches learning, too, and local high schools and colleges often welcome opportunities to work with teachers to provide meaningful experiences for all students.

Partnering with the community is an important part of the mission of Tri County Community College's Computer Integrated Machining department. Under the direction of my husband, instructor Phil Jones, the group regularly appears at career days and conducts tours of their facility, demonstrating the practical application of math skills in industry.

In addition to designing Buddy Bucks for my class, they have participated in other class projects, designing and producing materials such as

  • Medals for local Special Olympics
  • Medallions for TCCC graduating class of 2011
  • Plaques for local churches
  • Replacement parts for local water treatment plant
  • Gears for clock on Murphy, NC courthouse
  • Medallions for local road race
  • Tractor parts for local farmers

So - here's a big THANKS to all of you guys. You did a great job, and we really appreciate all that you do!