Clip Chart Love

Ok.  I  L.O.V.E the clip chart.  I've tried several other behavior management systems and none compare.   Seriously.  I was first introduced to it by a good friend (and colleague) a couple years ago.  She got it from a mentor teacher, who got it from... who knows.  Anyway, it spread through our school like wildfire.  Why?  Because it works and reinforces positive behavior.  

The real source of the clip chart is Rick Morris.  I want to kiss him for it.   Click here for the eBook which gives you lots of details.

For those of you new to the clip chart concept, here's a run down:
    Classroom management system
  • Make a chart (see the various examples below)
  • Students start out on Green each day (ready to learn)
  • Good choice = clip up one color 
  • Bad choice = clip down one color 
  • Another bad choice?  clip down
  • Another good choice?  clip up
  • They can go up and down throughout the day.  "What's that you say Ashley?"  They can move up AND down.  They aren't stuck on a stupid yellow or red light once they make a poor choice (don't get me started on the red, yellow, green light / 123 magic system).  They also don't get three warnings before I actually make them clip down.  They know the rules.  If they break them, then they know the consequence.  However, they have a chance to redeem themselves if they had a bad morning.  I'd be towards the bottom too if I came in without my coffee.
  • Non-verbal signals work easily with this.  No more interrupting class or making a public scene.  Thumbs up = clip up; Thumbs down = clip down
  • Easy to understand and you don't have to even touch the chart.  The kids can move the clips on their own and a student can have the job of moving everyone back to green at the end of the day.
  • Parents get it and LOVE it.  They appreciate that their child's day isn't ruined by being stuck on yellow at 8am and not being able to turn the day around.  
  • Easy to communicate daily behavior (you need 7 markers and some sort of recording sheet... see below).  
  • It promotes POSITIVE behavior.  
  • It's awesome.
More proof of it's awesomeness:
I am teaching here in Switzerland and all of my international students 'get it'.  I have Swiss, Russian, Italian, French, German, Dutch, and Austrian kids.  It took one day to get the hang of it.  They love it and they HATE clipping down.  I rarely have any behavior problems and when I do it's something minor.  

Want to make your own?  Great!  

Step 1:  Make a chart  There are endless ways to do it.  Just make sure it will be durable and the kids can easily use it.  My two versions are below.  The first was in my kindergarten classroom (stool next to it) and  I made it from page protectors stapled/taped to the wall (so they could get the clips on) and regular sheets of paper.  

Here's my mobile clip chart below.  It's about 2' tall and I have two different sets of names (for each class).  I bought a piece of white plastic/board from the hardware store (not sure what it was for) and painted it, let it dry, then wrote the words with permanent marker (tried painting words, but it looked like I'd been drinking all day so I stuck with black marker).  The clips are painted white because I'm a type A person and wanted white.  I can paint over them for my next class.  I'm pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this in Switzerland because everything seems like a challenge.  

More examples...
Step 2: Introduce it to your students (AND parents).  They'll get it.  Parents might not at first because they're not the ones using it, but they will because their kids will talk about it.  Have students practice moving their clips up and down.  Make a chart of good and poor choices.  Use the rules you already have in class. Don't make up new ones.  It's easy to integrate!  

Step 3:  Let it be awesome  You will quickly fall in love with it and you'll hardly touch the thing.  It will do what it's supposed to do... as long as you're not a crazy and horrible teacher who delights in kids clipping down.

Improvements & Adaptations:
  • If a student gets to the top and they're just having an outstanding, super, amazing day, then let them clip up even more.  Clip up to the teacher's shirt?  What about clipping it to your hair?  I know my kids went insane when one of them got to clip up to my pony tail or shirt.  Crazy.
  • If my kids got to the top (purple in my room) then they got to spin a wheel.  The wheel had special 'prizes' on it: computer time, sitting at teacher's desk, reading to another class, eating lunch with a friend from another class, etc.... not candy and toys.  I don't believe in rewarding good behavior with diabetes.  Halloween is enough.
  • Make one of your class jobs the "clip manager."  The clip manager gets to reset all of the clips to green at the end of the day.  
  • Top of the chart = a jewel (you know those sparkly ones at craft stores?)  OR  you could give them a different color each time they reach the top (which is supposed to be rare).

Things to be aware of:
  • Clips will break/come apart.... at the. most. inconvenient. times.  Be prepared.  Have new ones handy or be ready to fix them.
  • Really young ones (< 5) might have trouble using the clothespin.  Give them a week.  They'll get it.  
  • Kids will start asking you to clip up.  All. the. time.  Tell them "asking doesn't work."  You have to catch them in the act.  
  • Once you tell one kid to clip up then you'll have 20 other students copying the behavior.  It's great, but be prepared to respond to this: "You let Katie clip up and I did the same thing.  That's not fair.  Why can't I do it?"
  • Some students might need their own mini clip chart at their desk.  You know the ones who have severe control issues.  Giving them a mini version serves as a constant reminder.  They can even take it to their specials classes (art, PE, music, etc.).
  • You know that sneaky student?  They will try to clip up double spots.  Beware.  I made a rule that if they got caught clipping up double, then they clipped down double.  It never happened again.  
  • "Piggy-back clipping" - the act of clipping your clip on the end of another clip, thus making a long ridiculous chain of clips.  This WILL happen.  You know what?  Who cares?!  Let them piggy-back clip... unless it becomes a distraction.

Here's the form I sent home each day.  Click it to download! This form was in each student's folder.  The circle is to be filled with whatever color the student ends the day on.  You need 7 colors and maybe a pen to write an explanation for 'parent contact' students.  So easy.  I made a ton of copies of this at the beginning of the year and replaced it at the beginning of each month.  It's very visual and I even let the kids color in their circles the last quarter of the year (with supervision).... they loved it.

SOOO thankful that my friend S introduced me to the clip chart.  Thanks S!!!

Go make a clip chart.  Now.  Do it.  



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  2. Ahhhh these are so pretty! ???????? I love the first and last photos ??



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