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Clip Charts, Yay or Nay?

Many teachers use a clip chart for behavior management in their classrooms. I know of many parents and teachers who have strong feelings about these clip charts.
 
Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!
 
 
Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Here are some of the arguments against the clip charts:

 
1. It's too public.
2. It upsets children when their clip is moved down.
3. They don't change behavior.
4. It's negative.

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Well, despite all these beliefs, I use a clip chart in my classroom, and I love it!  Here's why:

1. It holds the students accountable for their actions.
2. It gives the children a chance to change things around.
3. It motivates the children to want to do well.
4. It's positive and honest.


Does it sound like some of my reasons for using it are conflicting with some of the reasons some have for not using it?


Well, I think the difference lies in the execution. 

I find the clip chart to be a positive experience because I make sure it is a positive experience. 


Most of the time, most of my students end the day well above green, and very rarely does a student end the day below green. 

If they do end below green, then they must have needed that communication. 

Do you know who else needs that communication? 


The other students in the class. 

They see the inappropriate behaviors in the classroom. It makes them feel insecure and sometimes scared if the child isn't held accountable for their actions. When they see that the teacher does something about inappropriate behavior, it makes them feel more secure. 

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!


When I have to move a clip down, I make it clear that the child made a bad decision and is NOT a bad child. Then I repeat one of my famous phrases: "You have the power to change this!"

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Then I make a point to find them doing something well, and make sure that clip gets moved in the right direction.  

It's all about positive execution! 

The teacher has the power to make it a positive experience or a negative experience. I choose to make it positive.

I have a music theme in my classroom, so I designed this Clip Chart System:
 
Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!


It has music pictures and music themed words like "Rhythmic Day", and the most desired level: "Symphonic Day". It's tough to get to that top level, but I make sure it happens, and I make sure even the most challenging kids find their way to the top level. 

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

For children who struggle, there is a more private option.

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Each day, the children record where they end the day. Each week, they do a self evaluation and choose a goal for the week.   Sometimes they do need a little help coming up with appropriate goals, but sometimes I am amazed at how insightful these goals can be!

There is also another incentive built into my clip chart system:



Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Beanie Babies!


Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

Depending on where they end up at the end of the day on the clip chart, they'll get to start the next day with a certain amount of beanies on their desk! It may seem like a little thing, but this is HUGE with my second graders! Those beanie babies are like trophies to those little guys!

Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!

I've been using beanie babies as rewards for years now, and I've never had a class that didn't love them. Yes, they play with them at first, but they don't want to lose the privilege of the beanie, so they learn real fast to leave it alone.

All in all, I love the clip chart system, but it is indeed a lot of work to make it work in a positive manner. 

If you're interested in the Clip Chart System I use, See the image above or see THIS LINK.

I also have a version of the clip chart with a sports theme!

 
Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!
 

Click the image or click HERE to see this resource!

I also use other methods of classroom management such as the scoreboard from Whole Brain Teaching but I believe in the Clip Chart because I make it work!
 
Clip Charts: Yay or Nay? Here are some reasons for and against using clip charts. The conclusion? It's all in the execution!
 

Gotta Get a Gimmick!

There is a song from the Broadway show Gypsy called Gotta Get a Gimmick! Many of you may know I'm a big fan of musical theatre, and have performed in many, many productions of theatrical shows. 
In fact, I tend to be rather theatrical in my classroom, too. 
(You might have guessed this from my profile picture.)

This post has nothing to do with that show.

This is a Bright Ideas post!


But, seriously, have you ever noticed how a silly little gimmick can grab the kids' attention and turn an mundane task into something exciting! I'm sure you've done it! 

Here are some gimmicks I've used!


Giant Dice: I'm sure you've seen these! I could have given these little guys a worksheet to practice adding 3 addends, but the giant dice and the whiteboards made them forget they were practicing a skill!


M&Ms! This lovely lady found the M&Ms a fun way to make sure she was leaving spaces between words!


Brain Breaks! These two cuties are doing wall push ups. The kids absolutely love this stuff! Plus, they need it! These two are playing a game that has the Brain Breaks build right in, but they don't need to be "built in". Brain Breaks should be a big part of every day! It's amazing what a small amount of movement or a change of pace can do for learning!


Mini Cards! These young gentlemen are practicing addition with 2 digit numbers. This is another case where a worksheet would be sufficient, but these little mini cards just make it so much more fun for the little guys! They love these!


Bracelets! These bracelets are simply beads (from any craft store) and pipe cleaners. This particular one was made for the new year, and was a chance for the children to practice facts that add up to 14. They can manipulate the beads to make 8+6 or 9+5 or other combinations.  My students love these bracelets so much, they even make them at indoor recess!

I have plenty more, and I'll bet you do too!

I don't believe in ALWAYS using a gimmick. Sometimes they just have to work. But sometimes they need a little something extra to get them going!

If you like what you see here on Elementary Matters, please join me on facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!

For more Bright Ideas from lots of fabulous bloggers, browse through the link up below. You'll be amazed by the bright ideas!


I Won Big in Vegas!

I won big in Vegas! No, not THAT way, but I did spend $6.00 to come home with this:
Yes, that says 24 cents. I could have cashed it in, but I thought the voucher was a much more entertaining souvenir!

So the gold I came back with wasn't cash, it was far more valuable. It was knowledge!

Honestly, many of these things I knew, but this was reinforced by my 4 days in Vegas with teachers!

The Golden Nuggets from Vegas:

1. Collaboration! There is strength in numbers. When teachers (or anyone) share ideas and work together, supporting each others efforts, everyone wins! This concept was truly evident this week. I saw  many cases of teachers giving "shout outs" suggestions, advice, and encouragement to other teachers, and it warms my heart. I've never been much of a competitive person. I'd much prefer that we all get along and work together, which I've always found to work best!

2. Work With Good People! The above picture is a great example of what I mean by "Good People"! The person on the right is Paul Edelman, the man who created Teachers Pay Teachers. He gave the Keynote address at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference and made it clear he has gone out of his way to hire "good people". He clearly has, and there's no question that he is one himself! (I showed him a picture of my lovely daughter, whose college career is a reality because of TpT! We had a great conversation!)
On the left is Deanna Jump, the #1 seller of Teachers Pay Teachers. I'm lucky to have met Deanna at last year's get together, and was sitting right up front for her part of the Keynote address. She told her story, and it was clear to all that she is a good person! She's humble, genuine, and down to earth. I met many people over the last few days that met that description! 

3. Take Risks! Yep, I always knew that taking risks is important, but I was way out of my comfort zone for a lot of this week. I'm basically an introvert, and I'm often shy, especially around people I don't know well. Wednesday night was the blogger meet up. There were several hundred teachers, all talking at once, most of whom I'd never met. My natural instinct is to run away when it comes to large groups, but I bit the bullet and started chatting and circulating! I'm so glad I did! I talked to people that I've "known" for years online through blogs and facebook, but I finally met them face to face! There were others I wasn't familiar with, and I'm glad that has changed! I forced myself to go right up to strangers, introduce myself, ask them about themselves, and pushed myself to keep circulating. I'm so glad I did!


4. Have something Memorable! Despite Rachel Lynette's suggestion to keep profile pictures "professional", I'm glad I have used the picture I have, which is far from professional looking! (Rachel DID give her disclaimer: "If something is working for you, keep doing it!) I've used my silly pose as my profile picture for a while, and more people recognized my picture than remembered my name or my logo. That taught me I needed to keep using this picture, because I want to be remembered! I suspected this was the case, so I made nametags with that picture on it, and wore them most of the time in Vegas! 
I have to admit, that silly picture represents me as a teacher. I'm pretty animated, energetic, and fun. I've even been known to tap dance on a table to hold the kids' attention!
I also made a point to include my maiden name on my nametag, since I chat with many teachers on facebook, and that's the name I use. Most people are visual, so even if they can't remember it, they'd recognize it!

5. The Best Form of Professional Development is Talking to Other Teachers! I doubt there are any teachers who don't agree with this one! I went to 4 valuable sessions sponsored by Teachers Pay Teachers on Friday. I learned a lot from those sessions. I can honestly say I learned even more from the times I got together with other teachers. We had the blogger get together on Wednesday (which I met a lot of people, but actual conversations were tough because it was crowded and LOUD!) We had the Happy Hour on Friday, plus, many of us got together for meals and activities. We had some amazing conversations at these get togethers. Topics included our classrooms,  Whole Brain Teaching, blogging, facebook, TpT ideas, Instagram, and even a few non-teaching ideas, such as weddings, divorces, our children, and the men in our lives! Honestly, those get togethers are the times I'll remember the most, and were the most valuable to me professionally.


6. Leave Room for Swag! What you see in the above right picture is only part of what I brought home with me! Yes, I somehow managed to get that suitcase closed, but it was a real struggle! My roommate, Heather from HoJo's Teaching Adventures managed to have a good chuckle while I sat on my bag and struggled to zip it!

7. There's No Place Like Home! I've always felt the best part of any trip is coming home. I had 4 fabulous days in Vegas with hundreds of AMAZING teachers, but it sure was good to be home! Even though it's all over, no one can ever take those memories away from me.  

One more piece of advice: if you're like me and find it impossible to sleep on a plane, don't take the "red eye". At some point I may get enough rest and start feeling human again, but I don't think that will be this week!

Show Your Patriotism!

I'm sitting here watching the annual 4th of July Boston Pops Concert and swelling with pride for my country. It seems these concerts just keep getting better and better! Back in the old days, we used to drive down to Boston, spend all day saving our spots on the Esplande, then watch the concert live. The traffic and crowds never bothered us, it was always worth it! 

Happy Independence Day! This post has a patriotic brain breaks freebie that can be used for any USA holiday!



Nowadays I sit in my living room and watch on TV. It's not quite as exciting as watching it live, but it sure ois mre convenient!

In honor of the holiday, I've created some brain breaks with a patriotic theme.

I do love to include anything the kids are learning as brain breaks. I usually manage to include seasonal or holiday brain breaks when I can. These Patriotic Brain Breaks can be used for any Patriotic holiday: Constitution Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, or Independence Day!
 
 

See the image or see here to download your freebie: Patriotic Brain Breaks!


Happy Independence Day! This post has a patriotic brain breaks freebie that can be used for any USA holiday!

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games

I have been fascinated with the brain and how it works for years now. 
 
I do a whole lot of reading about the brain. I have a ton of books about the brain and learning. I follow several online journals and newsletters, and make note of any articles that have something to do with the brain and how it works.
   
Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


Here are some of the things I've learned about the brain:



Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

1. Practice Makes Permanent! We know that “Practice Makes Perfect” is a fallacy since we know if a child practices something incorrectly, he learns it incorrectly.  Whatever they practice needs to be accurate so the child learns it correctly. (I’m sure you know how hard it is to break a bad habit!) Games can be played over and over, giving the children plenty of opportunities for practice! 


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

2. Practice with Feedback is even better!  As the 
children work in pairs or small groups, the teacher or the partner should immediately say the correct answer if it’s not given. That feedback is essential! I emphasize partners checking answers during game playing.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

3.  The Brain is a Parallel Processor! Brains are 
much more likely to remember something if the learner 
uses more than one process.  If the children are 
looking at the fact, saying the fact out loud, and making gestures or moving manipulatives on the tens frame, 
they are more likely to remember the information than if they just looked at it. I expect my students to say say facts out loud during game play.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

4. Brains Need Social Interaction!  When children work together, they are keeping the brain happy. Social interaction is HUGE when it comes to learning! 

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.
5. Emotions play a big role in memory! A little healthy competition gets the blood moving, bringing oxygen to the brain and helping the memory do its thing. They sure love to win! (But make sure they know how to lose as well!)

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

6. Brains remember patterns! If you organize information 
by patterns, it helps! An example might be learning math facts by fact family or sight words by word family. These two fact fluency sets are based on patterns.  Brain Friendly Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency and Brain Friendly Multiplication and Division Fact Fluency


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

7. Brains remember colors!  Seriously! Using color 
helps the kiddos remember! The above fact fluency systems are color coded for better learning!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

8. The Working Memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time! This is why I suggest starting many games with just some of the cards, not all the cards at once!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


9. A little bit each day is more productive than a lot, 
once a week! I like to spend 5 minutes a day with 
math facts games, 5 minutes a day practicing sight words games, etc. This is so much more valuable than a half hour once a week!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

10. Music helps the brain organize data! It is recommended that appropriate background music is played during practice times. When possible, play music during game time! It really makes a difference!

Some other blog posts about games:

Ten Easy Learning Games -  Here are some easy ways to make learning fun, and all you need are some games you probably have on hand!


Playing Math Games to Strengthen Important Skills: This post tells why it's important to play math games, and has some suggestions on how to teach them and what to play!

Practice Makes Permanent and Games Make it Fun! Sometimes kids just need to drill something until they've got it. This blog post describes a fun game that makes practice more fun! (Plus a freebie!)

A Fun Way to Review Basic Information: This is a great end-of-the-year, beginning of the year, or anytime game, with suggestions on how to use it.


Strengthen Math Skills - Some information about how games strengthen math skills, and ideas for games, including 2 freebies!



Doesn't this make you want to play games?




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

Quick, Easy, and Honest Feedback!

Brain research tells us that honest feedback is essential in order for learning to happen. Common sense also tells us that children need to know if they're on track.
 
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
 

I make a point to give honest feedback whenever I can.


On written work, I use 4 highlighters: red (or pink), yellow, green, and purple.
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Here's how it works:

 
If I highlight the child's name in green, that means they're doing just what's expected, they're right on track!

If the child's name is highlighted in yellow, that means he's on track, but needs to be careful about something. (I usually write a little note to let them know.)

If the child's name is highlighted in red (or pink), that means stop! There's a problem here. (We usually have a little conversation.)

But there's one more: if a child's name is highlighted in purple, that means his work is above and beyond expectations. Purple represents royalty, so I'll often bow to these children! 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

For most papers, like homework, the only mark I make is the highlight at the top of the paper. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific skill, and make a note and highlight about that topic or skill. In the spelling papers below, I focused on the correct formation of the lower case m.
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
Then, of course, I'll find a little something spectacular that a child has done, and I'll make a point to make a purple star right on that part of the paper. 

I often hold up these papers for the children to see. The next day, many children are doing the same thing on their papers. It's amazing how happy it makes the children to get a little positive attention!

On the paper below, I've made purple stars for children showing their work in math. 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Well, there you go! It's easy to remember. It cuts back on my correcting time AND it gives the children the honest feedback they need! 
 

I hope you find this bright idea helpful!


Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!


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