Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best. Thing. Ever.

I've created a new daily blog specifically dedicated to classroom organization and management. Please visit me there at: The Clutter-Free Classroom

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.


J Oddo said...

I LOVE the clip chart! I started using it this year in K. Another teacher in my school, first grade, started using it because of me. I agree about the fact that it makes the classroom soooo positive. I rarely ever have to mention negative behavior; if i tell one student to slip up they shape up real quick!! I also dont give out rewards/prizes etc. All they get for reaching the top is a little purple card that say "Hip Hip Hooray I was on purple today!" to show their parents and that has been more than enough!

Unknown said...

I am really loving this idea. I am very excited about trying this in my classroom. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs. Adcock

Amy said...

Oh, I am so glad I found your blog! This sounds BRILLIANT! We have actually played Find It/Fix It everyday this week and it's working so well! We actually played twice today, once before lunch and then at the end of the day. The prize is a sticker because this particular class is crazy for them. I can't wait to try this idea too! Thanks!

Amanda said...

Love it and can't wait to get it up and going (maybe a snow day project this week?)!

futureflstar said...

I loved this at the beginning of the year, wandered away from it as we hit October, somewhat went back to it before break, and now that we are back plan to go at it full force. I do love that it rewards the good kids. When I remember to focus on what good they are doing it helps a lot more and works better. I did also just start using sticker charts on their desk as an extra incentive so that they can earn something extra for gooid behavior( i offered them treasure box or lunch with me for a full chart and they went nuts) So be it. :)
btw I have missed your blog!

Anonymous said...

What does each of your sections say? I don't really care for the teacher's choice or parent contact sections on the site that shows the original chart but need some help with new words - thanks!

Anonymous said...

LOVE THIS IDEA!!! It's already saved in my "Things to Do Next Year" file! Do you happen to have a template for your banner on Vistaprint?

luckeyfrog said...

We do something similar, but we don't have a positive section on the chart and I think I want to try that!

Someone also mentioned a card to send home when they are on purple, and I love it. So far I've only written notes home for those on green when it's a student who rarely achieves it. But it would be great to have a card of some kind already printed up so that I can just hand them out, especially if I add positive sections to the chart so that it really takes ESPECIALLY great behavior to get the card!

I am curious, though. What do you mean when you say it 'travels with them to specials'? Do you ask specials teachers for anyone particularly bad or good?

Miss Kindergarten said...

I am going to see Rick Morris present on Wednesday at a staff development!! I will definitely post some awesome ideas I learn! Visit my blog:

Shannon said...

I absolutely LOVE this idea!

Mrs. Hinton said...

Love It! We are in professional development right now getting ready to adopt this idea to the entire school! Kuddos to you and Woohoo!
Teachers at Washington Elementary School in Junction City, KS at USD 475 Geary County

Mrs. Hinton said...

Love it!