At our high school, in addition to "Stars" that are nominated each semester, one per teacher, there is an academic assemble honoring kids who have a certain GPA. I really like the "Stars" part, though; we use it to honor kids who don't receive a lot of attention otherwise, but are hard workers, or participate in activities that don't get a lot of recognition. All around good kids.
Our elementary and middle school have “students of the week”, but our high school does little to recognize students. High school students who have no tardies for the week are entered for a drawing, and those winners get preferential parking spots in front of the building for the week. However, if those students don’t drive or are not drawn there is no recognition.
We have a "Student of the Month" award that teachers nominate students for. Unlike our other school-wide awards, this one is not intended to focus on the academic superstars. Teachers nominate students who have had difficulty and have worked hard to improve. While recent grades can be one reason for nomination, classroom participation and helpfulness toward other students count, too.
Our school gives students that do positive things a coupon. The student then takes the coupon to the principal and the principal has a chance to interact with the student and really brag on them. The coupon is then entered into a drawing and each month a drawing is held, if a student has his coupon drawn he gets a prize.
We have the student of the month program that honors students and an incentive laden program where students are, similar to the previous post, "catch students being good." I have come to believe that these particular measures are great for public relations and for the community to observe. They make for great copy. However, we still need to discuss with teachers and staff how to positively redirect kids' actions when they frustrate us. I think that giving out all of these positive rewards is awesome, but if we are not able to substantiate it with positive and constructive redirection of student behavior that invites dialogue in the hopes of transformation, we might only be "half addressing" the problem.
My daughter's elementary school does a student of the week for each classroom. Their pictures are put up in the hall. They also have "busy bees" which are given out whenever a student is caught "beeing good." These can be exchanged for prizes, but there's no recognition aspect to that.
We have a nomination process at our high school. Teachers nominate at least one student each month and discuss their positive accomplishments/attributes. At the end of the month, a student is voted student of the month, his or her name is announced schoolwide with a photo posted, and he or she earns a gift certificate donated by a local business.
When I was the Behavioral Specialist in my previous district we did the Positive Behavior in School program. Many schools were trained in this program, but each school had to think up ways to reward students for their positive behavior, this briefly is what we did. Teachers were given white tickets, bus drivers were given yellow tickets, and other staff (aides, custodians, sect. ect) were given blue tickets. When they saw a student doing something positive they gave the child a ticket and made a comment to why the child was receiving the ticket. The child then placed their ticket into their grade level bin (we had 3rd through 6th grade). On Fridays, I would pull five names from each grade level bin and announce their names over the loud speaker. These students would come down and write their name on a piece of neon paper to be placed on the Wall of Fame at the front of the school. Each child also received a postcard and a pencil. Then of the 20 students I put all of their neon name cards in a box and shook it up and drew one name. That child received a special prize from the glass case. Our discipline went down 33% during the first year! Also to continue the adults to give out the tickets I would draw one blue, white and yellow ticket a month and give a $5 coffee card as a thank you for taking part in this program. The adult also had to write their name on the ticket. Good luck!
Try giving students gold, silver and bronze cards for specific things you want to recognize. Create activities they can attend when they earn one of these cards.
At our school, in the main corridor, we have a painting on the wall that says "superstars" on it. Each time any employee/adult of the school sees any student in the school doing something positive we put their name up on a star and explain what they did. It can be a simple thing like opening the door but very rewarding when you see the students smiles for putting a star up with their name on it!