Classroom Management

The Clip Chart (in about a million words)

Last summer, I looked into classroom management programs. I used to use a ticket system, where students earned tickets for making good choices. They used those tickets at class auctions to buy trinkets.

The ticket system actually worked pretty well, but I was “over” this system for a few reasons:
1. It focused too much on extrinsic motivation. I wanted to find something that focused on intrinsic motivation.
2. It was expensive to buy all that stuff.
3. It took a long time to get through the auctions.
4. It was run entirely by the teacher.

Thanks to the good old Internet, I found out about the clip system. I heard it was “magic!” and that kids loved it. It sounded good to me, so I decided to try it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!  Here’s what it looked like in my classroom. (Yes I mixed up the rainbow colors. I’ll fix that this year!)

From the top down, it says, Outstanding, Role Model, Showing Pride, Ready to Learn, Thinking About It, Lose 10 Minutes (of reward or recess time), and Contact Home.

Everyone starts the day on Ready to Learn. Students clip up or down according to their choices. You can have the whole class, small groups, or individual students clip up or down.

If I student makes it to Lose 10 Minutes, then he or she had to sit out at our second recess (NOTE: I would not recommend having younger students miss recess time if you only have one recess per day – I’d probably choose a different consequence or have it say “Teacher’s Choice”).

If a student continues a poor behavior choice after the first consequence, then he or she has to clip down to Contact Home. Some teachers have those students write a letter home, some have them fill out a form, and some will email or call the parent. It’s totally up to you.

Everyone starts with a red clip. Students who end the day at “Outstanding” get a sticker on their clip. After getting 5 stickers, the kids get the next color clip! The kids LOVE THIS!  Last year, they saved their clips, attached them to their backpacks or the sides of the desks, etc. They were so proud of themselves when they “clipped up” to the next color!

After getting to the top pink clip, students could then earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond clips.

I bought the clips at Walmart. 100 clips are $1.88. I also bought spraypaint for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink clips. Here’s what it looks like when you spray them:

For the glitter clips, I covered one side in glue and then spread glittery on it and let it dry. I left the other side free for the stickers. For the diamond clip, I bought some cheap sparkly bling from Michaels and hot glued them on the clip, which was painted silver. I also displayed all of the clips on the side of the clip chart with fun names like “Responsible Ruby” and “Polite Pink”. The kids loved looking at the clips and having a visual reminder of which clip they would earn next.

Some tips on using the clip chart:

1. It works best when you focus on the positive! Instead of jumping right into, “Clip down, Sally”, have the kids who are making the right decision clip up! About 8 times out of 10, the kids who aren’t making the right choice will quickly get the hint!

2. When clipping down, some teachers have kids clip all the way down to Thinking About It, even if they were on Outstanding before that. Personally, I don’t think that’s fair. The student earned the clip-ups, and my opinion is that one clip-down is appropriate in most instances. I will make an exception only for very serious mistakes, like hitting someone or something like that. I make it clear that school rules are still in effect, and referrals will be given for major incidents. (FYI, I think I only had to write one referral last year.)

3. Some teachers don’t use the colored clips, and students just keep a plain-colored clip for the whole year. It seems to me that these classes don’t have as much success with the chart. Part of why it works is because students are motivated to get that next clip and are so proud of themselves for earning it.

4. I put student numbers on the clips instead of names. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The kids knew who had which number by the end of the first week of school. I’m not sure if I’ll do names or numbers this year.

5. I was a bit of a control freak about the clips last year, but I think I’ll have the kids be in charge this year. I had the kids take over more of it by the end of the year, and they did a great job. The kids can absolutely put stickers on the clips at the end of the day, move everyone to Ready to Learn, and hand out the new clips. I’ll probably make it a class job for 2 students each week.

6. If you have a classroom theme, you can personalize the clip chart to your theme! I’ll post my new clip chart sometime in the next month or so. 🙂

7. Some teachers make a contact home form for students to fill out if they get to that. On the other end of the chart, some teachers make stickers or little “I had an outstanding day!” forms for kids to have. It’s up to you!

I love everything about the clip chart, and highly recommend it!

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