Studies have shown that specific praise is very effective, while general praise is not. In other words, saying, “Johnny, excellent job adding those numbers,” is much better than saying, “Great job, class.” Keep this in mind when you praise or reward your students.
To make praise mean something, it must be given at the appropriate time. For example, if a student has a partially correct answer, you should not heap praise on her/him for answering the question correctly. Instead, you should point out the part of her answer that is correct and then help her dissect the question to come up with the complete answer.
Another point about positive reinforcement is that it must be evenly administered. It's not a good idea to keep praising the same one or two students in the class. Remember, even if you don't mean to play favorites, it is what the students perceive that matters.
An effective technique to put into practice the elements mentioned above, that is to say, specific praise - appropriate time for praising - even praise management is the Apple Tree. Check the procedures and illustration below:
Trees carry a symbolic meaning of development and concrete growth, so why not using it as a tool for behavior management in class to show that good behavior can be cultivated like an apple tree? The idea is simple and all the teacher has to do is making a poster similar to the one on the illustration above and write the students' name on it. Everytime a student has a positive attitude he is given an apple and students put a lot of effort in having the tree full of apples!! Another positive aspect is that this technique deals with the idea of "catch them being good" and appropriate behavior is reinforced serving as a role model for the other students. It is really worthy trying because it has proved to work marvels, specially with young learners. Have a try and enjoy a class based on positive behaviour reinforcement!
Special thanks to Fabiane for the beautiful poster! :)