Today I want to give you an update on how the system has been working, and how I have expanded the system further since my last post on the topic.
First of all, the duct tape on the floor:
The tape has held up really well. I was worried that the students would constantly be picking at it when they were sitting at the circle spots, but after the first couple of weeks they have mostly left it alone. I had to replace 1 circle spot but all the rest of the lines and spots are still the same ones from the summer. Having the colors for their seating has been incredibly helpful! It is so easy to be able to call students by color group when we are transitioning, or point out groups that are doing well as positive reinforcement. Having the circle spots makes it much easier to form a circle for dances and games much more quickly, and having the colors gives them just enough choice on where to sit without allowing too much room for disagreements. I LOVE it.
Then, of course, there is the behavior management board aspect:
The behavior management aspect of the system has been expanded quite a bit so I will come back to that, but suffice it to say that it has been going well. The students even help keep me accountable when I forget to move the minion magnet (to indicate line leaders) and are always keeping track of which team is winning in points!
The instrument color-coding had mixed results for me:
Having the xylophones color coded has been great. It makes it much easier and faster to go to instruments when the students have limited options, and the students are much more accepting of the idea that they will be sharing an instrument with their classmates when I explain that it is their "team instrument" (who woulda thunk?). However, color coding the mallets did NOT work for me. First of all, passing out mallets took longer, not less time, because I had to hunt to find the right color. Second, the tape would not stay on! I had the washi tape on the top of the rubber handles, and they just kept sliding off. It was a good idea but not worth it for me in the end.
The writing supplies have been another huge WIN:
I don't have students turn in work by teams normally, because that just adds more time to clean up and grading, but on the rare occasion that they are in the middle of a writing activity and need to save it for the next class period, I have them put their papers in the color coded folders. That way they can get their own papers again without me having to pass them out again, which saves us time.
Ah, the pencils. One of the BEST THINGS EVER to come from this system! I am happy to report that I have not lost a single pencil since the start of the school year. I can't even believe it. The difference is incredible. Last year I went through boxes and boxes of pencils because they just kept disappearing. This year I have only had to stop and look for a stray pencil a couple of times, and I have always been able to catch it before the class leaves because I can quickly count up each team's pencils. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The students have been much more careful with the erasers on the pencils too, because they know that they are going to be the ones using those same pencils again next time.
OK, so that's my update on how things have been working for me. Now let's talk about the expansion of my color coding kingdom!
This is the bulletin board (a work in progress) that the art teacher put up in the front lobby of our school. That's right folks, the color coding has left the music room and spread across the entire school! We have had a very difficult school year with behavior issues as a school, and the principal came to the staff around October asking for ideas to combat the lack of motivation among the students and staff. This was mine. Basically we took the color teams in my room and implemented it school-wide in a PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and support), Harry Potter-style house system. Let me try to briefly describe what we have done so far (and we already have plans to expand this for next school year after seeing the positive results!):
- We made little tickets that say "house point" on them and put them in the hands of every single adult in the building. Adults can give tickets to students for positive behavior using whatever scale or system they see fit, and each homeroom has a folder where the students deposit tickets for their color team. Each week those point are tallied in each homeroom and the school-wide totals are posted on this board. At the end of the month, the team with the most points wins a prize (ice cream in the cafeteria, hat day etc).
- We have started having assemblies once a month as sort of "pep rallies". We do some games, some contests where they can win points as a team, and at the end we announce last month's winners. The art teacher ran a contest to design a mascot for each team, and I had the students write chants/cheers for their teams, so now we use those in our assemblies as well (the mascots are going to be added to the board once we get those copied).
- We are doing some special events where students can earn tickets for their team by participating, like "role model day", when they dress up as their role model, or "timely ticket", when everyone who is in their seat on time gets a ticket (we've struggled with tardiness).
- Future plans include using the color teams for field day, electing house captains in student government fashion, and meeting by teams for team-building activities and bringing in guest presenters to talk about different careers etc.
I hope this update was helpful for you- have you used a color-coding system in your classroom? Has your school ever tried a house system for behavior management? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments!