I'm a big believer in positive reinforcement. These kids need incentive to improve. They're in a tough life, and really small things can make a huge difference.
1. Pick themes for the week. One theme a week - like encouragement, manners, helping, courtesy, respect. Have class discussions on what they mean. Every time a student is caught demonstrating it, they get a little "award" sticker on their desk - have the teacher just photocopy a page of award things and have them fill in the theme for each reward. (Cheap and easy positive reinforcemnt) and tape it to their desk.
2. Tell her to hit the local businesses in town. Have her explain that she is trying to instil a community feeling, and to ask for any freebies. Pencils, and especially the fast food joints. Ask them - often they're only too happy to give out free french fry coupons and such. Ask if they would come in to the class and talk about their business and what they do for the community. It's good advertising for them (I know the kids don't have a lot of money, but it gets the idea to them that these people care), and keep the freebies. At the end of th week, choose a few students who did really well for whatever the criteria and give them a freebie.
3. You can also ask the other staff members, church, or other community groups for their "junk". My best friend taught in a low income special needs class, and she wanted all my stuff. Anything. Then sort through it and see what the kids would like. Girls would like little lipsticks or lotions (not used), free samples - oh, go online and ask for free samples for everything....
4. Even something as simple as task completion can be rewarded. Let them have 10 minutes to play games or go get a drink from th fountain, or erase the blackboard....
I onc had a really tough class of grade 8's and they talked incessantly and the behaviour was insane. After a while they realized that if they behaved in my class, I would take them all out in the hall for a fountain break (took less than 2 minutes and the deal was they had to be quiet and not run off), and they got to finish early and listen to a song of their choice (kids brought them in - make sure that you know what the lyrics are first! ), and other types of rewards. Yes, it took away a few minutes of instruction time, but it made the time that they were actually working SO much more effective and productive!!!!
Formerly HanSolo. IBS, OCD, Bipolar, PTSD times 3.