Although it may seem silly, almost elementary and junior high school-ish, I try to have an award ceremony in my classes where I either make certificates for my students or give them little trophies(i.e. 99cent store items such as foot-long pencils or keys- Christmas tree ornaments- spray painted gold). I'm fairly certain most students think I'm a bit nuts for doing this but I think some of them get a kick out of it. Last time when I made the awards, I made sure that everyone received at least one; these awards ranged from perfect attendance, class participation, highest grade on particular writing assignment, to the most positive/upbeat disposition and most improved writer. (It it very possible that these awards are much more for myself, to assuage the guilt I feel and that queasy feeling as I prepare for the final conferences which I dread every year. Don't get me wrong, I stand by my grades but I still dislike, and always will, the encounter with that students who has done below the bare minimum, missed numerous classes and was often late, yet comes to the final conference meeting and argues for half an hour that he/she deserves an A or B).
I'm not sure if I'm going to make certificates for my students this semester, which is not to say that this semester or any other semester there aren't wonderful students in my classes, but there are several students who have done incredible work, both in terms of writing and the blogs. Butoves Mede is the star student of the class; not only is he a wonderful writer but an incredible asset to class discussions.
Ying Ying Jiang http://bluesky-manshat.blogspot.com/and Angel Ovcharik http://angela0764.blogspot.com/ are two students for whom English is not the first language but who have embraced every assignment, took full advantage of composing several drafts, sharing these via google docs and their blogs, as well as taking into consideration comments from peer reviewers - classmates, other classes we connected with like Luke's Heroic Lives and Dr. Van's Honors Lit course, and myself. Another two students who have done impressive work this semester and stay on several occasions after class to continue discussions are Claudia Gomez http://claudiagee.blogspot.com/ and Jonathan Gomes http://theuniversalmen.blogspot.com/. Claudia has failed ENG 101 once before but this term she has worked very hard and the numerous slips from the Writing Center are yet another proof of that, and she has been exchanging e-mails with Ann Matsuuchi regarding research (Ann's LRC 103 students were research advisers to my students for their first and second research papers).