Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's one of THOSE days.

We all have those days.  The day before Christmas break, the full moon days, the days where they announce that there will be an early dismissal due to inclement weather, the, ohmysweetbabyJesus I'm going to pull my hair out days.  It comes with the territory of working in a school or with kids.  And it's the reason we're always looking for new ways to manage our classrooms.

Today, I would like to share something I use to manage groups in my classroom.  I personally think it's the most fantastic classroom management technique ever.  I know everyone has their own things they use; some use the red light, green light, yellow light technique, some use colored cards, marble jars...there's a million different things to choose from.  And here's another:

I call them bracelet jars.  Here's how it works.  I work with special education kids in grades 3-5.  I'm basically a resource room teacher, so I see these kids in small groups throughout the day.  When a group comes into my room, all the students are working together to earn enough bracelets to fill their jar to the line, which I place based on the number of kids in a group.
At the beginning of the year the kids help me form some guidelines for earning bracelets. I work it into our school wide behavior plan where our goals are to be safe, responsible and respectful.  So generally, when my kids are demonstrating these things in my room they can earn a bracelet and they get to wear those bracelets until the end of group. When they are clearly not abiding by these rules, I can take bracelets out of their jar. At the end of each group anyone who earned bracelets places them in the jar.

I usually throw a few extras in there for awesome answers, someone who's having a particularly awesome day or whatever.  I use my judgement but I always make sure the kids know why they are getting them.
Believe me when I say, this has been a miracle worker for me.  Even my toughest kids LOVE earning bracelets.  It becomes a quick (healthy) competition to see who can get the most bracelets. And all I have to do to get my students back on track is mutter these ten little words "should I go take some bracelets out of the jar?" and they snap right back into place.  

Once they reach the line on their jar I usually let the kids vote on what they would like as a reward.  For my third graders  something as simple as picking a prize or getting a pencil usually does the trick.  My fifth graders are a little more challenging but they are always able to come up with great ideas.  
I will admit that it takes some practice at first, especially with the younger ones.  But it truly does work and it's fun for the kids, too.  Unfortunately I can't take full credit for this idea.  The school I did my student teaching in used it as a school wide behavior plan.  They worked to fill an entire fish tank!  Now that's impressive and it really goes to show that this can be modified for anybody to use.  I use it with small groups but give it a try in your classroom by using an In and Out jar.  The possibilities are endless!

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