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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Classroom management & requested journal covers

I can't believe it's the last week of July and the start of school is right around the corner.  Summer blew by and its time to really start thinking about the upcoming new year.

Whether you are a new teacher or not, I think one of the most important things needed for a successful year is good great classroom management.  There is not one perfect "program" that works the same for everyone.  We all have different tolerance levels, different expectations, and different personalities.  We have to find what works for us and our students.  I personally don't like to use the pulling of the cards(red, yellow, green) or the clip chart things. I also never give whole class consequences for negative behavior.  I know they work for other teachers but it doesn't mean they necessarily will work for me.  I like to use positive reinforcement as much as possible yet I am known as a pretty strict teacher.  However, I am known for being a very fun teacher.  Every year I tell students and parents, "I can be your child's most fun teacher ever or their worst nightmare the kind of teacher that doesn't let them sneeze without permission."  And that is absolutely true.  It's the students choice (I'm not good at decision making anyways so it works out good for everyone).

Anywho, let me tell you what I do in my classroom and maybe you can use some ideas for yours.  As I said, I won't "punish the whole class as a whole but I definitely reward them as a whole if they earn it.  Inspired by my friend Teresa from Confession of a Teaching Junkie, one of the management tools I use is 'Behavior BINGO'.  Here is a BINGO board I had made at Vistaprint to match my theme this year.
Small Banners Vertical by Vistaprint
Students get to choose the reward that they are working towards.  In the past the kids tried to get a BINGO for a class pet, a week of no homework, movie day, game day, and even a "Mrs. Vasquez love the Dallas Cowboys day" {Some background knowledge needed:  I hate, despise, can't stand, am not a fan of the Dallas Cowgirls Cowboys.  I am a big NFL fan and an even bigger Pittsburgh Steelers fan - not real popular here in the heart of Texas}.   

Students love love love working for something big like this and really encourage their classmates to choose to be "good" all the time. 

Individual student management is a bit different.  At the beginning of the year I let my students know I have VERY HIGH expectations of them.  I expect each and everyone of my students to make positive choices, give 110% effort, and treat each other like we are a family.... does it always happen?  Absolutely not, but I still expect ALL students to strive for this.  I only reward when students go over and beyond....  yup, it's true.  I have found, especially in the last couple of years, students expect to be given a prize for anything they do.  "Mrs. Vasquez, I did my homework last night, can I get a prize?"  "Mrs. Vasquez, I just helped SuzieQ pick up the crayons she dropped, can I pick from the prize box?"  Uuuhhh no!  One, don't ask for a prize and two, you are suppose to do your homework and you are suppose to help your classmates... Your prize is the good feeling you get inside.  We do all sorts of cheers, and patting ourselves or each other on the back but not prizes for doing what your suppose to do just because you are a good human being.

However, when students do go over and beyond or even just at random times when students are on tasks and have been doing what good human beings do I give out classroom dollars. I have generic dollars that were printed out from the computer (some year I use tickets like they use at carnivals or fairs).  Students save up the dollars to "buy" Friday Fun Day! Friday Fun Day is where the student get 30-45 minutes at the end of the day to play games, dance to music, etc.  Unfortunately, not everyone always gets Friday Fun Day.   And believe me, I have heard how mean I am to not just give in and let Johnny, SuzieQ, and Billy have Friday Fun Day because they didn't earn enough dollars to buy Friday Fun Day.   My answer always is "They made their choices not me".  While others are having Friday Fun Day it is a great opportunity for me to talk with the students who didn't get to participate about the choices they made during the week and/or what choices need to be made to earn enough to enjoy a fun Friday afternoon.

I know you are thinking, "O.M.G. you crazy frog lady, we don't have an extra 30-45 minutes to spare with all the academics we need to get in."   There are several times I can't give up a Friday afternoon (especially when state tests are coming) but in that case the kids get to "buy" something from the prize box...my prize box has everything from coupons for no homework, lunch with teacher, sit at teacher desk for the day, or prizes that are pretty cool (of course from the Dollar store, Target Dollar Spot, or something on clearance).

I must say that  like with anything else, kids need to have the positive choices modeled and practice, practice, practice.  We practice procedures and making good choices all year long but especially at the beginning of the year.   

In doing all of the above I have found that students learn to appreciate each other and themselves.  They start to appreciate the good feeling they get when they do make a good choice, and they appreciate the "prizes" so much more.  Students really come to appreciate the fun we have when I teach (because they've earned it).

This year I am also going to use what I will call "Working Willies" for group management but that will be another post when ever I have a change to make them. :)

I would love to hear what you use for your classroom management so please share in the comments.

***UPDATE*** ~  First I want to tell you that I can't reply to your wonderful comments unless I'm on my phone...weird I know but it's true!  Its something with the design and html that I know nothing about. :)  I will get to all comments ASAP.   However, I want to say Thank you to Allison Mogren for asking what I do with the kids who aren't making positive choices.   Well good golly Miss Molly (that one is for you Mrs. Malloy), I act like everyone in my class is perfect and that is not always true!  

So what do I do? Well, it really depends on the infraction. I do not tolerate any type of name calling or bullying period!  If its something minor the student gets a verbal warning.  Again, depending on the child or the situation they may get one or more verbal warnings.  If the student does the same thing again I put a plain post it note on their desk for a visual warning.  Next I would have the student call the parent and "tell on themselves". And of course, if necessary, I write an office referral and send them down to the office.  To be honest, I usually don't keep students from recess as a consequence because most of the time those are the kids that need to run off their energy but I have taken 5 minutes away from recess for behavior issues.  

I know its going to sound CRAZY but I rarely have any behavior consequences more then the post it note.  Students in my class know (or get to know) that if they don't earn fun they don't get fun and that includes my teaching.  I can make copies of worksheets like anyone else, so if they choose to, I can lecture and hand out worksheets OR I can be interactive, get crazy, and have fun when teaching!  And remember, I don't punish the class as a whole so most kids want to have fun being engaged with the Promethean board or perhaps a math game, etc. They don't want to miss out on that, would you?.  Sometimes the students who make good choices are so engaged that they are all on their own and I am sitting one on one with the culprit who made bad choices........ boring for them! ;)

Speaking of comments, a couple of days ago on my Made it Monday post, many of you emailed me or left a comment that you wanted to know when my journal covers would go on sale in my TPT store.   While I buy from TPT I don't sell anything.  I give my stuff away for free. I was going to put these journal covers as my freebie in my August newsletter but due to popular demand you can get them right now by clicking here.  Here is an example of one of my whole class journal covers.
Have a hoppy day!


  1. Lorraine,
    I could relate to so much of what you put in your post! I use Kilgo Cash and have an auction once or twice in a grading period. The kids love it! But I must confess, I often forget to use it. This year I'm going to try ClassDojo. It's free and can be used on multiple devices at once...maybe that will help me.


  2. I am applauding your post and thoughts! DITTO!
    My motto: Firm but with love! THANK YOU for sharing! SMILES (please check out my Blog if you have not done so already)

  3. I love the way you manage your class, I make something similar, my kiddos just loved the Behavior Bingo, it was a great tool last year, so I'm using it again for sure!!!!!
    Thanks a lot for your incredible journal covers, they are great!!


  4. Lorraine,

    Thank you so much for the freebie! I will definitely be adding your ideas to my Shared Writing Journals I already have. Also, thank you so much for your input on your classroom management. This will be my first year teaching so I am still debating what to use for my classroom management techniques, so I was super excited when you wrote this post. I am in the same boat as you, I don't want to do the pulling a card, or move your clip. I like your idea here but I do have a question. Since you use all positive reinforcements (getting to choose a number on the bingo board, or getting a ticket for the prize box or Fun Friday) what do you do if something misbehaves and needs a consequence of some sort? That is normally where the pulling a card or moving a clip down the chart would come into play, but since you don't do those things, what alternatives do you do? Thanks!


  5. Thank you for the freebie! I have taught for nine years, but this year is my first year in Fourth grade. I am excited for the new adventure. I am thankful for fellow teachers like you for writing wonderful blogs and freebies. :)

  6. Hey "Crazy Frog lady!" I think you are awesome and I love your stuff. Thank you so much for sharing. You are making me be a better teacher.

  7. Thank you soooo much for the shared writing journals. I love them so much, it is just the thing I need for my writing center. Thanks again!

  8. I love the writing journals! Thanks for sharing, I will definitely be using these in my writing station!

  9. Yay! Thank you for the post update! :) I never liked taking recess away while I was student teaching or subbing either, because yes, those are typically the kids who need to lose the energy outdoors! Thanks so much for updating :) I enjoy reading your blog!


  10. I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award! Head over here
    to pick it up!

    Teaching and Tech

  11. I (like Farrah), will be using ClassDojo this year. I used it for about half the year last year and the kids just loved it. The thing I have a hard time with is finding a way to implement rewards based on the point system. There are an average of 20 school days per month so I make 20 points my ultimate goal with no limit on how many points they can earn/lose each day. 20 points gets you to the pizza party...but what to do in between 0 and 20, and what happens if they make it to 5 with a reward of candy and then they lose a point later in the week and go below it. How to keep track and not reward them twice....it's all a jumble. Anyway, I really like your visual post-it idea. Subtle and to the point to the child and an easy way for everyone else to check in with their behavior too! Thanks!

  12. Love your behavior bingo idea. I think I will use it this school year. I have always struggled with ideas for whole class behavior management strategies.

    We have school wide behavior expectations at my school so I use those as my classroom expectations. Just makes it easier to follow the rules. There are five of them. I create a weekly chart with them listed. At the end of the day as the students are packing up, they being me their chart and we have a quick behavior conference. (Were you respectful, always ready, etc.) The conference takes less than 30 seconds for most students. At the end of the week the chart is taken home to be signed by a parent and students are rewarded the following week if they have a certain amount of points. It worked last year so I will use it again this year.

    I have found that students behave better with positive reinforcement, so I try to use it as much as possible.

    I love your blog. I am going to follow you. You can find me at teacherofscholars.blogspot.com

  13. First, thank you for sharing your wonderful class journal covers. Score! Also, I completely agree that kids are expecting prizes for anything and everything they do. It's so important for them to understand that prizes are not why we do our homework or help our friends. Kids are lucky to have you and Fun Friday!! :)

    The Teaching Thief

  14. Just found you. Thanks for the journal covers. They are too cute.

  15. I'm trying class journals for the first time this year. Thank you so much for the cute covers! :-)