Monday, July 25, 2016

Clip Chart: Why I use it and why it works for me

Over the past several years, there's been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the infamous classroom clip chart.  I would like to start by saying that I have used one for 12 years and I can't imagine my classroom management without it.  Today's post is dedicated to the clip chart and the reasons why it works for me.

We are a PBIS {POSITIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORTS} school.  We have been for 11 years now.  One of the main components of our system are clip sticks.  I should add that by "stick" I mean it's a yard stick that has painted sections on it.  It hangs vertically and each child has a clothespin with their name on it clipped to the stick.

Our sticks are set up with a color code system from top to bottom: BLUE, GREEN, SMALL GREEN, ORANGE, YELLOW, RED.

  • Blue stands for outstanding behavior or something special a child did that day.  
  • The green is where everyone begins their day.  
  • The small green serves as the "warning" section of the stick.  If I ask a child to stop a certain behavior verbally and they do not, they are asked to move their clip down.  *The small green is really just a portion of the green sectioned off with a black, Sharpie line.  
  • Orange is for when a child has had several warnings, been moved down to small green, and still isn't correcting the behavior. Orange equals a note home. 
  • Yellow is obviously more severe and equals a phone call home.
  • Red equals a visit to the ole' principal and a phone call home from HIM.  

I go over the stick with my kids at the start of the year.  It's one of my classroom procedures that I introduce.  They've already had the same stick in kindergarten so it's not really new.  What is new is the way I use it.  I use it mostly for positive reinforcement.  This is especially important to do those first few weeks of school.  Here are a few examples of things I say:  "Oh, Johnny, I love the way you ignored a friend that was trying to distract you from doing your work.  You can move your clip up to the blue."  "Wow!  Jess, you came in so nicely from recess.  You got a quick drink, walked to the rug, and waited quietly for the rest of your friends.  You may move your clip up to the blue."  Now you may think that I am just rewarding kids for expected behaviors.  I am.  And it's completely fine because we are talking about 6 year old children here who are JUST LEARNING.  And aside from that, they are learning what OUR CLASSROOM should be like.  So yes, I do reward kids that do what is expected early on in the year.  They are modeling proper behavior for their peers.

For me, the orange, yellow, and red portions of the clip stick serve more as intimidating colors on the stick that "you never want to be on."  I very rarely move a child's clip down below the small green. The thought of the kids moving their clip to those colors is enough in itself. When you have solid classroom management, you shouldn't have to move clips constantly.  The kids should know exactly what's expected of them.   However, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  Moving a clip below the small green definitely does not mean someone is a "bad kid."  We talk a lot about this point early in the year as well.

I do move a clip down on occasion and depending on the severity of the behavior, the children have the chance to move back up.  I always watch for them "turning themselves around" and make a conscious effort to praise the behavior and ask them to move their clip up to blue.  NOTE:  The children are by no means allowed to ask to move up.  The kids can sign our "Blue Crew" poster if their clip is still on blue at the end of the day!

Each day, the students color their behavior calendars in their take-home data binders.  They also have monthly goals for their calendars.  The calendars go home every night, in the binders, so the parents see them constantly.

Pardon the glare--I'm not a professional photographer!
In conclusion, the clip stick works for me and always has.  However, it must be paired with a lot of praise and positive notes home! Having these two things in place helps give me solid classroom management. The kids know exactly what to expect and I know what to expect from them.



Diana Rowland said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I don't have a clip chart but I love your explanation of it! I think they get a bad rep because the ones I've seen are used when there's bad behavior, defeating the purpose of PBIS. I think if the focus is on positive then the children are motivated to make good choices. Great post!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I ALWAYS find something great on your blog! I recieve it in my inbox and it is like hearing from a friend. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

Mrs. Wheeler said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Denise You just made my day! Thank you so much! I am thrilled that you are able to use the content I write about!! Have a great evening!

Mrs. Wheeler said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Diana Rowland Thanks so much! I 100% agree with you! Have a great evening!

Carpenter Family Chronicle said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Yes, please! It's worked for me for many, many,many years.

Apple Blossoms said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I, too, use a colored clip chart and it works for me. The levels are similar to yours. There is a warning color where no "punishment" is given since we ARE human and make mistakes. If they demonstrate a change/attempt to improve themselves, they can move up. Here is something I'm rethinking and wanted your...and anyone else's...opinion on. Currently I have it where if they pass the warning stage to another color below, they lose the chance to move up. Part of me thinks that's too much and part of me, while I'm not a drill sergeant, is unsure if I should change it. Feedback is much appreciated on this. Thank you!

Mrs. Wheeler said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Carpenter Family Chronicle Woo Hoo!!!!!

Mrs. Wheeler said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Apple Blossoms So regarding going past the "warning" spot on the clip stick, I DO let them move up as long as they are trying hard AND it wasn't a serious behavior that got them down there {hitting, swearing, etc...}. For those behaviors, I believe they need a punishment.

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Apple Blossoms My feeling is when they go to red they go to a 6min. break(I teach 6 year olds). It also gets noted in my book. They move back to green as part of their conference. If they take 3 breaks in a day, parent is contacted. If they have the same problem even once 3 times a week, I also contact the parent. Conferences with the student seem to really help.

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