My New Plan for Positive Behavior in the Classroom

I'll admit it. I'm one of those people who was still using a behavior chart in my classroom when school ended in June. I even talked with my teammate about how much I hated it before we started the year last year. She agreed. But when we put our heads together, we still couldn't come up with an alternative.

Why do I want to go away from the behavior chart? Rather than explain this and not do it well, I will point you in the direction of my friend Nikki from Teaching in Progress. Her post Why I Will Never Use a Behavior Chart Again really opened my eyes to the negative impact a behavior chart can have on our students. Her post is not new, so I even felt guilty last year that I was implementing it again, but in fifth grade I needed some way to track student behavior and hold students responsible for their actions, so I had trouble figuring out what could replace it and also avoid having a negative impact on my students.

So this summer seemed like the right time to come up with a new plan for positive behavior in my classroom. To be honest, I've actually never really had bad behavior. I've had some normal, chatty fifth graders, but I am very clear with my expectations and this results in very little behavior problems. In fact, at one point last year, I jokingly laughed that the behavior chart had become more of a decoration in my room than anything else.

I first had to consider what it was that I wanted to get from my behavior chart and then decide what it could be replaced with that would give me the results I was looking for. It came down to the need to track behavior and provide students with an incentive for making great choices in their daily behavior. I remembered using punch cards many years ago with younger students and started to consider how I might use these instead of the behavior chart.

Here's what's great about punch cards:
1. They are not posted on the wall so students do not have to worry about being embarrassed in front of all of their friends. I bought pencil boxes for each of my students, which is where they will keep their monthly card. At the end of each day, they simply leave their pencil boxes on top of their desks and after dismissal, I go around and punch the cards of all students who made positive choices in their behavior, including the ones who maybe had a rough start to their day, but turned it around. No one knows how many punches each student has unless the student chooses to share that number with their classmates.
  • If you are concerned about whether you might remember who you spoke to and who you didn't, avoid writing it on the board. Instead, get a small notebook to discretely record student names in during a down time like lunch or prep time. Then you can return to the notebook at the end of the day, add names, and cross off the names of any students who turned their day around. 
2. I can see which students are struggling with behavior quickly and easily. If Henry doesn't get any punches for the entire week, then it's time for me to give his parents a call to discuss this. I can keep track of and stay ahead of these students to work with them, as well as their parents, to find ways to fix the problem now, rather than later. I suggest holding on to the cards in student folders from month to month as they will be helpful if you end up needing to bring data to an IEP meeting or child study.

Click on the picture above to see these in my store. I found the adorable paw print puncher in the scrapbooking section of Michael's! 

At the beginning of each month, we identify how many school days we have. I give students the cards I've created, each of which has 23 days, and have them cross off any extra days if the month we are on has less than 23 days, which will happen. When we have figured out how many days they are responsible for, each child sets a realistic goal for their behavior. If Devon has a rough home life and occasionally has a rough day or two, he might be realistic and say that his goal is to get a hole punch on 18 out of 20 days. I urge students to have high, but realistic expectations for their behavior, as I have high, but realistic expectations for their behavior, too.  

---->After I wrote this post and started my year, I came up with another brilliant idea for those months that don't have 23 school days. Instead of crossing off the extra days, do double punch days! Think about those tough days (Fridays, assembly days, days right before holidays) and tell your students that morning that if their behavior is fantastic, they'll get two punches that day! 

Again, I understand that some students might have a rough morning and turn their day around in the afternoon. As long as they ended on a positive note, and did not get sent out of the room to the office, I will still give them a punch on their card, but they have to really turn their day around. I make this clear to my students from the start. 

So, of course, your natural response is...So what? Why do your students care about these punch cards? How do you get them to "buy in" to wanting that punch on their card each day?

In my classroom, students earn tickets for behavior, as well other actions throughout their day. These tickets can earn them classroom coupons, which they love. At the end of the month, students get one ticket for each hole punch they received and if they have a full card, they get 10 extra tickets. This way, everyone is being rewarded and no one is getting anything different from the other, aside from the number of tickets, of course. In my eyes, it's a win, win! 

I'm looking forward to trying the punch cards with my new group that starts on Thursday. I'm thinking they are going to love it! Here's the classroom reward coupons that I use with my class. Click the picture to view them in my TpT store! 

Behavior management can be one of the hardest parts of teaching, but when you set clear expectations and you don't lower those expectations, you'll set yourself up for success year after year! It's all about student buy-in and part of that buy-in comes from knowing that their will be positive consequences for their positive behavior.

Until next time, enjoy every second of the summer that you have remaining. My first day is in just five days!! Where did summer go?



Valentine's Day Topper Freebie

Well, my three-day weekend has officially begun and it's going to be a chilly one, but I have just the thing to warm you up! It's my annual Valentine! This year, I grabbed Annie's cheddar bunnies (one of my favorite snacks - extras for Mrs. O!) from Target. I made a cute bunny topper that I wanted to share with you! I used the blue and pink, but I did make two versions and included both in my freebie! Click on the picture below or my freebies tab above to download this freebie.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day! 



Using a Student Sample for an Engaging Lesson on Revising and Editing

Pencil Clip Art by Educlips

Last week, I had my formal observation. I was observed for writing and I wanted to try something new with my fifth graders. Of course, I wanted something authentic. I'm not one for a "dog and pony show" when it comes to being observed because I want my feedback to help me grow as an educator. I sat down and considered that my students had recently finished fictional narrative writing. When I considered their final products, my overall feeling was that they were speeding through both revising and editing. I didn't feel like they were really understanding the importance of those steps, so I wanted to review what revising and editing look like. Of course, I wanted it to be engaging so I didn't want to just stand at the front of the room talking about it. I wanted them to see the results of proper editing and revising. I immediately thought of a student's writing that was already very good, but could've been even better with a bit of revising and editing. Of course, the first thing that I had to do was to make sure that I had two thumbs up from my student author. Luckily, I received it! From there, I began to plan my lesson. Here's what my lesson looked like:

First, I gathered my students on the carpet for a review of revising and editing. I found a few different venn diagrams as I was browsing on Pinterest and liked this one best: Revising and Editing Venn Diagram. After making a couple of changes, I typed the different statements out and cut them out separately. I read the statements one at a time, calling on students to come up and place each statement in the proper part of the diagram.
Pencil Clip Art by Educlips

When all of the statements were placed, I talked about the writing process and how authors often revise and edit over and over before they love their final product. We discussed the reasons for revising and I reviewed the different parts of the writing that we edit. We call it CPiGS where I am, standing for capitalization, punctuation, indents, grammar, and spelling.

Quick Reflection: In my lesson, I gave students a copy of the venn diagram and had them copy it down. In hindsight, this took quite a bit of time, and since I put the display up on my board, it wasn't really necessary. I wouldn't do that part again, so you can learn from my mistake! If anything, I might type up a completed venn diagram and have that copied and ready for them so that they can add it to their writing folder.

After that, I told students that we were going to get a hands-on experience with a student author's work. I made a big deal of talking about how wonderful his paper was, but that I felt it could be even better with a bit of revising and editing. I wanted to be sure that this was a positive experience for all, and so I talked about being sensitive to the fact that the author was their classmate. I then gave students specific directions for the lesson, a copy of the entire essay, and a section of the essay that would be their group's focus.

Pencil Clip Art by Educlips

1) Read the entire essay to familiarize yourself with the piece. Choose one person in your group to read the essay aloud and be good listeners while the story is being read.
2) Read the section of the essay that you have been assigned and first, revise it. There may be something to move, something to take out, or something that needs to be added. Share your thoughts and ideas as a group and decide what revisions are best for this paper. You must make at least one revision.
3) Reread the section of the essay that you have been assigned and now focus on editing. Remember, you should be specifically focused on fixing any run-on sentences and fixing capitalization as you make those changes. If you notice other things, you can change those at the
end if time allows, but STAY FOCUSED on run-on sentences and capitalization until you’ve fixed all of that.

I am happy to report that my students were excited to do this! They worked in groups of three, each focusing on the section that they were given. They were engaged in their work as they revised and edited and their conversations were fantastic. As they worked, I moved around to each group, discussing the different changes that they were making. I found that the checklist was really helpful in keeping them on task. It also helped that I planned the groups ahead to be sure that there was at least one focused individual in each group. As you might have guessed, the best conversation came from the group that the student author was in. He was his own biggest critic!

Pencil Clip Art by Educlips

When they were finished, the students rewrote their section on a piece of chart paper. We placed the finished rewrites on the board and the students were able to gallery walk and reread the paper with improvements. They returned to the carpet, where they informed me that they had found even more places to revise and edit during their gallery walk.

After the gallery walk, we discussed how their revisions and edits improved the overall paper and I pointed out that many of their corrections were things that I had mentioned to the student author in our conference as well. My goal had been to review revising and editing and help students to see the power in taking the time to make changes that will truly improve their writing and I believe that was achieved and so did my administrator. I'll definitely do this lesson again!

Pencil Clip Art by Educlips


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