What if scouts only pick their friends?

strategy tips Sep 09, 2021

Literacy Awards reinforce the Three Personal Standards. They motivate students, provide immediate feedback, and build on language, literacy and content matter. Layers upon layers of support!   


One common worry when teachers start using scouts with Literacy Awards is a fair and equal distribution of awards. Because Literacy Awards are so motivating in changing personal behavior, teachers are tempted to make sure everyone earns the same number of awards daily.  


We have seen teachers overcompensate by creating tracking systems for who has earned an award. This is time consuming and not necessary. You have too much on your plate to add a Literacy Award checklist!   


Another frequently asked question about Literacy Awards is…  


What if scouts only pick their friends?  


Teaching the routine for how scouts will choose classmates, identify the personal standard exhibited by that classmate, and passing out awards is an important part of the process. Students may start picking friends or only students they know and have relationships with. This is normal and will quickly resolve itself.   

Students do this for the same reason that you and I scan a room for someone we know upon entering a party. We gravitate to the known and comfortable to gain a sense of equilibrium before we have the courage to break out of our box and make new friends.   

Our experience is that scouts picking their friends happens mostly at the primary level and most often happens:  

  • At the beginning of the year when they don't know everyone yet 
  • When there are new students in the class 
  • As they are learning the routines of Three Personal Standards/Literacy Awards  

As students become more comfortable with the routines and expectations and build relationships with classmates this works itself out. That's not to say that teachers can't help this process along a bit.  

Here are some tips we have found helpful for guiding the scout routine.   

  • Teach life skills: “What do we say when we don't know someone's name? "Excuse me, what's your name?" 
  • Provide a frame: "Suzy earned an award for showing respect by looking at the speaker." 
  • Focus the skill: "Scouts, today you're looking for students who are making the good decision of ____." 
  • Focus the room: "Scout #1, you watch for examples of the 3 standards here___, and Scout #2, you watch this side of the room." 
  • The teacher is the scout: If a scout gives multiple awards in a row to a certain student(s), the teacher gives an extra award. "And I would like to highlight Ethan for solving a problem when he___." 
  • Talk to the scout in private about highlighting people other than their friends 

Thanks for reading, 

Sara and Jody 


Literacy Awards is a focus strategy in our online fall course Acceleration 101: Setting the Stage. This strategy series teaches and extends 6 foundational strategies to create a positive and collaborative, language rich classroom structure.   

Oct 11 – Nov 20  

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You can also dive into Literacy Awards with our year-long coaching program,  Path to Proficiency - starting this month! Enjoy access to 28 GLAD® strategies until August 2022!   

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GLAD®? What's GLAD®? Only the best teacher professional development since the moon landing!! 🌖  Find out how to integrate rich English language development lessons into all the content you already teach. Get started with the Research and Theory Workshop ONLINE this fall.    

November 2, 3, 9, 10 (noon-3pm). Registration deadline October 4th!   

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