This hack is blatantly cheesy, but, so help me, it works. While rummaging through the deep discount bin at our local Wal-Mart, I found this big, beautiful button. It was mine for the taking at 50 cents. How could I resist? Further rummaging, this time through my junky desk drawer, turned up a lanyard from some long-forgotten conference. (Was I supposed to turn it in? Who knows?) I stuck the badge into the lanyard, and I was in business.
When one of my students answers a particularly tricky question during class—say, one that requires retrieval of some bit of information from a previous lesson or a connection between bits of knowledge—I toss the student the badge. Without coaxing, each student has put the lanyard around his or her neck and smiled knowingly. As the class progresses, the original recipient may be asked to relinquish the badge when someone else hits a home run. The badge has become part of the class community, so much so that students remind me if I forget to present it. My favorite moments happen when I get to offer the badge to someone who doesn’t consider himself or herself an academic star. We’ve even had a few selfies.
Perhaps another trinket, suited to your discipline, would work as well.