Monday, August 4, 2014

Clip chart

There has been a lot of hype lately regarding the behavior clip chart.  I have always liked the move up and down chart but was wondering if there was something to this hype.  I have been reading blogs and articles and think there are some really valid points.  

The arguments seem to all have the same overall idea of disliking it because of the emotional well being of a child.  Some arguments include:
1- embarrassment of having to move their clip down.
2-children have a visual comparison of behavior.
3- ruining the day of a child by making them move their clip down.

I have gone back and forth all summer trying to decide-  "What am I going to do?  What is best for my students?"

I decided to keep doing what I've been doing for 5-6 years.  The clip chart with multiple colors where you can move your clip up for positive behaviors and down when you make mistakes.  In my opinion-  first grade is a perfect time to teach the lesson- "we all make mistakes-  the important part is to learn from them."  I believe this system mirrors this thinking.  

As I think about the articles and blog posts that I have read- I wonder if the clip chart systems that the articles mention are the "negative" color charts that only record and focus on downward movement.  If they are-  I personally have some of those same arguments listed above.  However with the "new management" charts by Rick Norris (like I use)- I think that I disagree with some of the arguments.  

The first argument is regarding embarrassment of moving your clip down.  I NEVER yell at a child in front of the entire class to move down their clip.  We always have a quiet discussion at my or their desk.  Usually if there has been an issue-  other students already have seen or heard the child do the action anyway.  So the class already knows about it even before I interfere.  I also only display the "positive" colors for students to see.  I hide the "negative" colors behind my desk.  Special cases there could be a child that is embarrassed of moving their clip down or even up.  Those students always receive other management devices.  How can I expect a child to learn if they don't feel safe and their emotional well being taken care of first?  

The next argument about students comparing their behavior to peers...  I don't know what to say about this one.  I don't want to hurt their feelings.  I do however try to have very specific criteria layed out for clip up and down moves so students know what I expect for either up or down move. (I have these signs on TPT.)  I often will make "special" criteria for some students to make it more
achievable. I love the quote floating around- "Fair is what each person needs to be successful."  That is completely true in a classroom.  Like I mentioned above- if the chart doesn't work for some students-  we find and use something that does.  There is never a "one size fits all" in teaching!  If there was-  it sure would eliminate a lot of my planning time!

For the third argument regarding "ruining" their day- I model and share stories of mistakes that I have made.  Usually the first 2-3 weeks of school it is tough on students if they have to move their clip down.  However they soon "get" the mistakes idea and only appear motivated to correct their mistake.  Overall-  I still think this is a  very valuable lesson for students to learn.   I don't want students full of anxiety all day of worrying that that might move their clip down.  I can't imagine coming to work with anxiety that the principal would catch me chatting with teachers during the work day.  (Let's be real-  sometimes a student does something amazing or says something hilarious and I just have to share!) However I am not on edge because 99% of the time I am following my plans and I know that my principal trusts me.  I think that the system is teaching the students that I believe in them and know they can fix the mistake.  

Upon reflecting after reading these articles- I decided to make a few changes.  One change I made after reflecting was taking away the token economy associated with behavior.  I now am making a giant economics unit where the students apply for classroom jobs and jobs earn different wages.  Therefore students have to make a choice to apply for a job that they really like but may not pay as much or a job that pays more.  Students have time sheets that are calculated every two weeks from our "accountants."  Then students are paid once a month before the class store from our "bank tellers."  I also am adding services that students can buy this year at the store.  Including, "Personal day off of work."  The money is now associated with their jobs (with a bonus structure too!) instead of behavior.
(I need to "pretty" these job items up and then will post it to TPT in the next month.). I am really excited for this change.

Another change is how I am
now choosing to reward individual behaviors.  For behavior I am now using the awesome classroom reward tickets.  My friend saw them on Pinterest and made me copies.  I need to find the original so I may give them credit!

I leveled these cards by the more
desired rewards.  Each is stored in a matching folder color.  
The "negative" colors have behavior homework pages.  The "top of the chart" (black) area also has reward certificates.

These are the rewards:
-Top of the chart= gemstone added to clip, certificate, prize tub and can choose any of the reward tickets
-yellow= prize tub, yellow reward tickets or below
-Orange= orange or pink reward ticket
-Pink= pink reward ticket
-Red= chance of earning a pink ticket
Student earns 1 spot to write their name on the 120 chart.  Each Friday I will draw a few numbers.  Those students will
erase their name and get to choose a pink reward ticket.  

I am grateful for the clip chart debate going on.  It forced me to think and reflect upon my current behavior management practice.  I think these changes will work well for my students and I am excited to see how well it works out this year. 

***. I LOVE the Blogger app since I can write and add pictures directly from my phone.  However there are plenty of autocorrect errors.  Please excuse any errors that I have made!  Once I'm near my Computer-  I will fix these errors!  :-)



  1. Our district is going to a "clip chart" this year. In the past, students have only been able to move 'down'. There were no colors above "green" which is where everyone started the day, and you were not allowed to move back up after moving down (even if you had a great rest of the day). I excited to have a significantly more positive approach that we've been pushing for! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas; I love how your "down" colors are hidden by your desk.

    A Very Curious Class

  2. Amanda- my former district had the same system. Some teachers had it down to a science- I was not one of them and found myself giving more chances or saying- "oh it is just a bad day for Billy- he never gets in trouble" which was not fair. I first added a "purple" section to encourage kids to work towards something. Then found the Rick Morris system and fell in love!!! The toughest part is remembering to watch for students correcting behaviors. Often I will clip their name on my shirt so I remember to keep an eye on them. :-). Good luck! I think you will love it and thanks for sharing your story! :-)