Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rewards and Consequences With Behavior Contracts

 Rewards and Consequences
Rewards & Consequences
REWARDS AND CONSEQUENCES                                                                                             Rewards and consequences are a critical component of behavior contracts. They can help determine the success or failure of the contract inside and outside of the classroom. 

  Most teachers are not big believers in using extrinsic rewards inside the classroom. The end goal as a teacher is to create self-motivated learners who are productive members of society. Using extrinsic rewards seem to work against what is trying to be accomplished. However, using the same tactics over and over again expecting different results will not work for anyone involved. The behavior inside the classroom is not acceptable or “normal” behavior, therefore another method has to be tried. The rewards set in place are not supposed to be long-term solutions over the course of years. They are supposed to motivate the student enough that their behavior changes and becomes the new normal.

 Rewards and Incentives

  It is most effective if the reward is given by parents at home. That way, class time is not taken away, and the child learns that this good behavior is expected and reinforced outside of the classroom walls. If a reward must be given at school, privileges work better than tangible items.
 Happy students

Consequences for contracts come when a student doesn’t earn enough points, circle enough stars, write enough smiley faces, etc. for the day/week. Instead of having a punishment like a time-out or being grounded, the best consequence is simply to not give the student the item or privilege they would have earned. Setting up negative consequences can only lead to frustration and could demotivate the student.

The following page lists possible rewards that can be used with your behavior contract.

 Rewards and Consequences

      There could be several reasons why a student stops following the contract. First, they might not have had a big enough role in its creation. They might not feel connected to what it’s asking them to do or the rewards they get if they comply. If this is the case, revise the contract while working more closely with the student.

      Secondly, the rewards might not be enough to motivate the student over longer periods of time. You can either increase the reward or change it to something new. Talking with the student themselves, and their parents, can help give you insight into what will work best for the student.

      Thirdly, the student might not be getting rewarded frequently enough. If points/rewards are being given at the end of the week, try making it daily and see if that increases their motivation.

  This is usually a sign that the terms of the contract are unclear. That means it is a good time to sit down with the student and clearly go over the expectations and rewards again.

  Absolutely! Once it has become routine inside the classroom and has proven to be successful, the contract can be extended or modified to pertain to areas outside the room. You can rewrite the contract to include places like specials (computers, music, art, p.e., etc.) the hallway, other teachers’ classrooms, the library, and the playground. 

Check out how to set up and implement a behavior contract here

Behavior Contracts and Interventions

 Behavior Contracts and Interventions
Behavior Contracts
  Behavior contracts are a useful intervention used by classrooms and schools to help monitor and change student behavior. They are also a way to celebrate positive behavior, major and minor accomplishments, and real change within a student.

  A behavior contract is a contract that is written by the teacher with input from the student. It outlines targeted behavior to fix or desired behavior to be promoted. The teacher and the student work together to discuss the goals that they are working toward. Working together with the student, the teacher can also identify rewards and incentives that will motivate the student to follow the contract. A parent should also be informed of the contract before it is implemented. They will need to agree to the terms and rewards before it can be successfully started.

  A behavior contract is used when a student repeatedly breaks classroom rules or doesn’t respond to prompts and reminders to change their behavior. The student might also be identified as having social, emotional, or behavioral issues. When a student’s actions or refusals begin to interrupt their learning and the learning of others, a contract is usually appropriate. Contracts and observation forms can also be helpful in documenting student behaviors and interventions that have been tried. 

 Behavior Contracts and Interventions

There are several steps to follow when implementing a behavior contract.
     1. Document the misbehavior over the course of days to weeks to show the need for a contract.
     2. List the student behaviors that need to be changed. This could be behaviors that need to be reduced like shouting out or arguing, or behaviors to be increased like staying on task or turning in completed work. Make sure the behavior is something that can be easily tracked and modified. It becomes difficult to track behaviors like teasing at recess because of the space and number of students on the playground.
    3. Pick a manageable number of behavior to focus on. In the lower grades, you might start with only 2-3 behaviors to modify. The upper grades can have a few more. If you pick too many behaviors to change, it can become overwhelming to the student who will feel defeated before even beginning the contract.
     4. Write out the goals in a positive format. Instead of saying something like “Alex will stop shouting out during reading time.”, say something like “Alex will raise his hand to speak during reading.” or “Alex raised his hand before speaking during reading.” This will help you and the student to focus on the positive aspects of the behavior contract and help celebrate their accomplishments.

 Student Intervention Checklist

     5. Explain clearly the point, number, or picture system that is being used to track progress. Help them know what happens if they get a certain number of points or all smiley faces for the day. Do they get to sit by a friend at lunch? Pick from the reward box? Get extra playtime at home? Whatever the reward, make sure that the student has choice in picking it and that they are well aware of what it takes to earn it.
     6. Create areas for signatures. It is powerful to have the student write their name if appropriate. It is also important to have teacher and parent signatures so that both parties know what is happening with the contract.
     7. Get permission from the parent before starting a contract. Having parental support will increase the chances of a behavior change. It will also help the student know that their teacher and their parents are working together as a team. Also make sure that the student agrees to work with the contract. If the student does not agree with the behaviors, the rewards, or using a contract at all, they will not comply and the contract will be useless. Make sure the rewards and incentives are enough motivation to ensure the student wants to comply with the contract. 

 Behavior Contracts 3

       1. There are many different benefits to using a behavior contract. The first is that it is an effective way to change student behavior. It helps remind the student and the teacher of goals and expectations set for that student. Also, it is effective because the student feels ownership over the contract. Their involvement in creating, and then following, the contract motivates them to actively work on their behavior. 

       2. Secondly, a behavior contract is a simple and flexible tool that can be used by teachers. Contracts can be used regularly or on      as-needed basis for specific situations or activities such as field trips. It is something that can be revised and revisited throughout the school year and is easily adaptable to new situations. 

      3. Next, the contract is individualized to fit the specific needs of the student. It is not a “one size fits all” model. The goals and targeted behavior that is chosen for the contract have been identified specifically for that student. This means that the student and teacher can feel like a team as they go throughout the year. They can also genuinely celebrate the achievements and changes in behavior that occur. 

 Behavior Contracts 3

     4. A contract is a great way to increase parental involvement and communication. Parental involvement is crucial in a students long-term success. Using a contract is a simple and effective way to let parents be involved in their child’s school life. 

     5. Finally, a contract provides explicit expectations, routines, procedures, and feedback for the student, the parents, and the teacher. It is something that creates consistency which can be vital to a student with behavioral issues. They also learn to trust that consequences will come with negative behavior and rewards will come with positive behavior. That trust will lead to modified behavior. 

There are also many different rewards and consequences that you can use with behavior contracts. Check out my next blog post here!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Math About Me

 Math About Me

I want to tell you about a really easy and fun get to know you activity. This can also be used for a fun math activity throughout the year. What's even better is that your students will love to create these and they make FABULOUS hallway displays. 

First, you print off the math page that is most appropriate for your classroom. Have your students fill out the different sections by creating math sentence, models, or pictures to represent information about themselves. This is a great review of place value concepts, fact families, and more. 
 Math About Me

 Then the students can color or decorate the pages to really brighten them up.

Print out the different faces, hands, and feet and let the students pick the face that is closest to them. They then color and cut out those pieces.
 Math About Me

 Finally, glue the head on the top, the feet on the bottom, and the hands on the sides. Easy peasy!

 Math About Me

To download the FREE templates, click here or on any of the pictures.

Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Handle No Name Papers in Your Classroom

No Name Papers Board
No name papers can be really frustrating to deal with. It affects our grading, how we handle missing assignments, and more. Sometimes we can identify the handwriting of our students and pass them back their paper or sometimes there is only one no name paper and we know exactly who it belongs to. However, for those moments (cough **beginning of the year** cough) where you have multiple papers without names, or you can't recognize (or read) the handwriting, I want to show you about the No Name Board.

The No Name Board is a place to keep track of all the papers that don't have a name on them. It is a designated space in the classroom where students know they can look if they have a missing assignment and where you can put all the papers that need attention in one place.

Start by gluing pushpins onto clothespins with hot glue.
Glue Pushpins on Clothespins
You can also use magnets or even tape depending on the kind of surface you are attaching the poster to. I used push pins because I was putting my on cork board.

No Name Board
Attach the poster to the bulletin board or wall space. Then, push the clothes pins on the bottom.

 Clothes Pins on No Name Board

The clothes pins help keep everything nice and neat while helping you put all your no name papers in one place. You can also layer the papers if you happen to have that many.

 No Name Board With Papers

Clothes pins with push pins glued on the back also work great if you have tack strips in your hallway. It becomes extremely easy to hang up papers for hallway displays if you have the clothes pins already attached to the wall!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ways To Use Fidgets To Keep Students Focused

Using Fidgets In Your Classroom

As teachers, we have long known about the benefits of letting our students move in the classroom. The research backs us up. But what are some ways that we can encourage students to move while they work?

In a 2008 study done at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, researchers found that children actually need to physically move during a complicated task to be able to focus. They found that all children (and especially those with ADHD) moved more when a problem or task required them to work through complicated problems. They noted that this is why students tend to move more during reading and math than when they are watching a movie.

Educator and researcher Aleta Margolis said:
"Movement is a powerful teaching tool, and when we as teachers thoughtfully incorporate physical elements into instruction, we elevate the learning experience."

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, wrote a powerful article in the Washington Post. She writes:
"Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to "turn their brain on." What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to sleep." 

I know that it is hard for me to sit through a day in a desk, so I know it is difficult for our students as well. I have already written about Alternative Seating in the Classroom and how I used Yoga Balls. Both of these solutions greatly improved the student learning and behavior in my room. However, for some students, this isn't enough. Some of our kids need a constant outlet for their fidgeting that can help them move, which helps them focus.

I really believe in giving students choice and I also believe in not driving teachers crazy. So I found some engaging and SILENT fidget ideas that you can use in your room.


fidget tote

I highly recommend gathering together the fidgets that you want to use and storing them in one place. Then, allow the students who need to move the opportunity to come grab a tool to help them focus. This tote could be only for certain students or open to everyone because let's face it, all students benefit from movement.

What I put in my tote:

There are many things in your house or classroom that would work great as fidgets for different students. The figure 8 toy in the tote is actually a baby toy that can be twisted and turned. The blue spiky ball is a dryer ball that my son loves to play with. The yellow ring is a piece of a pool noodle that was cut into a 2 inch strip. It can be squished and squeezed without making noise or a mess.

massage ball fidget

I had these massage balls that I added to my tote. They are a gel-like substance that lets kids squeeze the ball without destroying it.

I know that if you look around your room, you will find things that you can use. If you are stuck,
ask your students to look around your room and pick up one thing they like to play with. You might be surprised what they choose.


 Koosh Ball
I found a Koosh ball that my kids love playing with. It is very relaxing to play with a Koosh ball and could even be used to help upset students calm down.

Tangle Toy Fidget
I love this Tangle Relax Therapy toy that I found on Amazon. I could literally play with this all day. This toy can be twisted and turned into many different shapes without being intrusive. It is very calming and helps keep a student's hands busy.

 Fidget Pencil Toppers
Another great fidget I found are these pencil toppers. These allow the student to fidget in between writing or working on problems. When the pencil becomes too small to use, you can just transfer the fidget to a new pencil.

Bike Chain Fidget
This Bike Chain Fidget is really small but effective. As soon as I opened the package I could immediately picture several students who would love to use this. The rings twist around each other and again. It's so small, it's barely noticeable.
elastic rubber bands fidget
So students need to move more than just their hands. I found these large rubber bands that fit around the bottom of the chair legs. Your students can kick, flick, or bounce the rubber bands without too much distraction. This also lets them move more than if they were just using their hands.

There are SO many more options. Just Google "fidget toys" or search on Amazon to find the best tools for your classroom.


  • Build in movement throughout the day as much as you can. Doing things like active brain breaks, simple exercises, singing songs with actions, standing while working, and more can get your kids moving. 
  • Try alternative seating in the classroom. Don't worry about buying fancy new desks, just give your students options of sitting on the floor, laying on a rug, or standing near a table. These can help kids focus and fidget at the same time! 
  • Let students come up to the board to answer a question instead of answering from their seat. Pass students a white board marker and let them come up and show their work. Not only will you get more insight into a student's thought process, you will also get the blood flowing for a minute. 
  • Use Whole Brain Teaching techniques to get your students involved and moving in every lesson. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Classroom Library Organization Made Easy

 Classroom Library Labels

Are you tired of classroom library chaos? I was too. If you're like me you want to manage all the books that come in and out of your classroom library in an easy and efficient manner. You are sick of messy shelves, torn books, and general chaos when looking for or returning a book. I was too. That's why I completely redid my classroom library.

When I first started teaching I had two shelves from Walmart that I stacked books on. I separated each shelf into a different genre. That gave me six different genres to work within. I quickly realized that between my hoarding of free stuff and the Scholastic points system that I was in trouble. Not only did I lack space, I also had many different genres, authors, and topics that needed to be organized and systematically separated. I also wanted to make popular books easy to access. Finally, I didn't want to have to worry about whether my kids were putting back the books in the correct space. Or, more accurately, how many times books actually got put back in the correct spot.

Enter my library labels.
 Nonfiction Library Labels
My first thought was to provide as much information on each label as I could. I wanted my kids to have a variety of genres, but I also wanted them to understand what those genres were. That way, if they were having a difficult time choosing a book, they could read the definitions to find out more information about it. The genres that I had more books for, like realistic fiction and non-fiction, had multiple labels with different colors.
 Classroom Library Labels Topics

I didn't put descriptions on the labels that had topics because I felt it would be redundant (i.e. Pumpkins: Books about pumpkins). I thought about something like "Pumpkins: Books on the rounded orange-yellow fruit with a thick rind, edible flesh, and many seeds that is part of the gourd family." But I figured that might be going a little too far. ;)

I wanted to keep the books more organized than just placing them all on a shelf and crossing my fingers that they ended up back where they belonged. I went to Walmart and purchased the cheapest bins I could find. They were less than one dollar apiece, which helped with cost. I purchased a few more shelves giving me six shelves total.

 Classroom Library Shelves

I printed off each label, laminated it (because lamination=happiness) and used packaging tape to attach them to the front. The bright colors really stood out on the bins and the kids loved having an easier way to find and return their books. 

One of my favorite things that I did on each specific author or series was to put a quote on the bottom of each label. 

 Mo Willems Book Label

This was a fun and easy way to introduce, even in a small way, the style or tone of the books that would be found inside the bin. 

I also had the cardboard book boxes (I think they were once called magazine holders) that were smaller. I needed labels to fit onto the smaller size too. 
 Smaller Library Labels

The smaller labels didn't give me adequate space to use definitions or quotes, but I still think they stand out and are easy to read. 

Now here comes the best part. The most dreaded part of a classroom library is books being returned in the wrong location. Not only is it difficult to find something if you need it, but your students can't find what they want and can get discouraged. Books being returned to the wrong place can cause a huge mess inside your library. My solution? Individual book labels with clip art that MATCHES the larger labels. 

 Individual Book Labels
These labels can be printed right onto Avery 5160 labels (affiliate link) and placed directly onto the book. This really, really, REALLY helped my kids put their books away in the right place. It also helped my really low/non-readers return their books. I'm telling you, this will change your life. 

I would put my labels in the bottom right corner to avoid covering up too much of the book description on the back. 
 Dr. Seuss Library Label
 I started having students help me take a small piece of transparent tape to put over the top of the labels for extra protection, but found I didn't really need it. Plus the stickers come 30 to a sheet so you can easily get more if one falls off. 
 Nonfiction Book Labels
This system made my books more organized, easier to find, and easier to put away. My Classroom Librarian was basically out of a job after I set up this system. 

I also created a way for students to "Check-out" and "Return" the books. This also gave them practice correctly writing a book title and the date. 
 Horizontal Library Check Out

 Vertical Library Check Out
You can download these sheets for FREE here or by clicking on the two pictures above. 

I promise you that this system will simply your life and make your job a little bit easier. If you are interested in using the library labels that I created, you can check them out here: Classroom Library Labels EDITABLE. There is almost 500 pages to choose from including genres, authors, topics, guided reading levels, Lexile, DRA, and more. 
 Guided Reading Level labels


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Unique End of Year Student Gifts

Unique End Of Year Student Gifts
Do you struggle with finding the perfect end of year gift for your students? I know I did. I always wanted something fun and meaningful. I found two different gifts that act as yearbooks AND gifts. It's a win-win.

I have seen some people using white shirts. I think that's a cute idea too. However, these two gifts give them something to play with immediately.

All I did was go to the dollar store and buy Frisbees and beach balls. Then, using a permanent marker (the washable kinds just rub off), have each student sign their name.

Beach Ball Size

The 20 inch size gives you plenty of space for students to write their names and a short message if you want them to.

Writing on the Beach Ball
I wrote on mine while it was flat. It seemed a lot easier to write on a flat surface than a round one.

I also used the front and the back of the Frisbee for more space.
 End of Year Student Gift Tags FREE
(If you like the tag, you can grab it for FREE here: End of Year Student Gift Tags.)

I think they turn out really cute and I know your kids will love this unique keepsake!
Beach Ball Gift

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