Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best. Thing. Ever.

I can't take any credit for this idea, but it is my civic duty to pass it along to you.

It has rocked my world. And it rivals Find-it / Fix-it for the top slot of 'all-time best thing to grace my classroom.'

I feel like there should be a drum roll and spotlights as I introduce you to.....

The Clip Chart!

I've used flip cards and tally charts and dabbled around in a whole bunch of other complicated behavior management systems. Truth be told, I have found that with clear guidelines and consistency, the room runs itself and kids rise to meet your expectations. However, it is important to have something in place.

This was an interesting start to a school year. I heart my class. They are a great group of kids, but were by far the chattiest collection of kiddos I had ever encountered. At one point when they were still talking over me and not listening to directions in late September I told my student teacher, "I've got nothing left. I've pulled out every trick I know. But, I'll work on it over the weekend and find something new to try."

Our second grade teachers had started using a clip chart this year and spoke highly of it at lunch. I resisted at first because of the size, but decided to look into it more. After visiting the site they suggested, I thought it was worth a try. That Monday morning I quickly made a chart using construction paper and introduced it when the kids came in.

Holy Cow!

It was as if I had flipped a switch. The behavior was flawless and has been ever since.

Here's why....

In any given class you are going to have your talkers and your rule-breakers and you are going to have your good little doobies. The clip chart makes the doobies work for you. They become your allies and they love it.

Each student has a clothespin and they all start the day in the middle of the chart on "Ready to Learn." The clothespins move throughout the day. Positive choices will move you up one level at a time. Negative choices move you down. There is a buffer zone between "Ready to Learn" and facing any form of consequence so if a child "clips down" he has the opportunity to clip back up.

Here's the best part....

The good little doobies are rewarded for being good little doobies. They can "clip up." So when the room gets a little chatty, I don't focus on the chatty ones. I find a few doobies, ring my bell and make a nice show of appreciating their role model behavior. They clip up. They beam. The others are quickly redirected without me needing to mention their chatting at all. It keeps things so positive and upbeat.

Here's the mostest bestest part....

There are no prize pails or trinkets or tickets or tokens or tchotchkes to manage or track. Instead of striving for useless junk, the kids strive for acknowledgement of good behavior. When a child reaches outstanding at the end of the day, we add a little star sticker to the clip and I give them a label to take home. When they earn 5 stickers they get a new clip and color it red. We repeat the process in "rainbow order" meaning they then work to earn an orange clip and then a yellow, etc. The ultimate goal is the coveted "glitter clip." They manage this on their own by getting a new clip from the drawer and coloring it with a marker.
You simply pass out the labels and move the clips back to their original spot each morning (or do as I did and train a responsible, tall child to do it).

I love the simplicity.

I love the consistency (it travels to specials with them) throughout the day.

I love the positive feeling to it.

I love that even if a child makes a not-so-good choice, she can rally and move back up. As a helpful hint, I usually try to "clip up" my friends who have a tendency to "clip down" early in the day so that they have a bit of wiggle room.

I really, really love that the focus is on my students that make positive choices. I feel that they often get taken for granted and the attention goes to those who don't. This turns things around and the others learn from their example.

Here's the link to the site with lots and lots of info. I would just whip up your own chart though. It was very easy to make out of construction paper/poster board, but you can also create a Vista Print banner. I made 3 on one banner and cut them apart.

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