Teacher Tip: Don't underestimate the power of small rewards. The students in my all-boys ,small group go crazy over stickers. Granted, my collection is awesome-- from animals to Spider-Man to patterned stars, hearts and excellent jobs!-- but even I, who acknowledges that middle school students of all grades thoroughly enjoy stickers, am surprised!
Also, star students in my larger classes get fun pencils and erasers as rewards. They eat it up. Part of it is that praise, or acknowledgement, and the other part is the actual reward.