July 29, 2013

Management Monday: The Clip Chart! (+ my first linky!)

After writing Management Monday posts the past couple of weeks, Carrie at Being Ladylike suggested I make the series into a weekly linky party.  I am new to the link up game, but I figured I'll give it a shot!  If you are interested in sharing your management ideas, I hope you will link your posts below!

First, I have to say that I in NO WAY take credit for the clip chart.  It was not my idea, and I got my start with it thanks to many other teacher bloggers, especially Raye at The Caffeinated Teacher who assured me it was a great system for big kiddos as well as little kiddos.  Many of the ideas you will read about in this post are based on the ideas of Rick Morris, whose description of the clip chart and whose ebook describing its implementation totally got me on board with the whole system.   I've written about it in the past here and here, but with school ready to start up in a few weeks, I figured it was worth describing again!  Like I said, while most of these ideas are not my own--I'm sharing them here because they have worked so well in my classroom, and I want to spread the word! 

First Day Introduction
On the first day of school, I introduce the clip chart with a super positive spin.  I describe to students how every day when we enter the classroom, we are "Ready to Learn."  Each day is a fresh start; we are all beginning in the same place.  I tell them that it's completely up to them where they end the day.  We all make choices during every day that determine what kind of day we will have.  We also all make mistakes.  I ask the kids if they've ever made a mistake that they wish they hadn't.  I ask them if they think their whole day should be ruined because of one mistake.  They always say "No!"--that's the beauty of the clip chart.  I tell them that their day is NEVER ruined!  Even if they make a mistake, they can make a different choice and move on with their day!  I "challenge" the students to set a goal for where they would like to see their clip at the end of the day.  I have them visualize moving it up to their goal color.  Then, I have them think or talk to a neighbor about what choices they will make to move their clip there.  It's super positive and gets the kids excited about the clip chart.  I also have the kids come up and place their clip on green to give them ownership over it.

Day to Day Management
During the school day, I tell students "Clip Up" or "Clip Down" based on their behavior.  I often use a hand gesture that I read about in the clip chart ebook linked to above--a scissors motion with my index and midle finger, followed by a thumb up or down indicating the direction the kiddo needs to move his or her clip.  I try to make sure I am clipping up A LOT, especially at the beginning of the year.  Like any management system, the kids need to buy into it, and feeling successful is a huge part of it.  
I also let kids continue "clipping up" even after they make it to pink (the top level)--they can move to the very top of the chart, followed by moving "off the chart."  This is a personal favorite of mine; the kids bring their clip to me and I clip it onto my shirt.  They love it!

What Makes it Special
At the end of the day, we celebrate studetns who have made it to "Outstanding," aka the top of the chart.  These studetns get a PBIS ticket, a "Super Star" award, and a sticker on their clip.  When clips have 5 stickers on them, they get swapped out for a special colored clip starting with red, the bottom color on the chart and moving all the way up through all the colors, then silver, gold, and "jeweled." :)

Why I Will Never Use Another System
One of the initial reasons I was reluctant to use the Clip Chart was because I wasn't sure I wanted behavior management to be something so visible to the whole class.  I always thought I preferred checks on a clip board to something public like a Clip Chart, and I used that system my first two years teaching.  Here's the thing about that--it didn't work for me.  Here's why I use the clip chart now and will never go back:
  • I would hesitate to give strikes and end up giving a lot of second chances--strikes were something that my kids couldn't earn away, so if a kid was one who tended to shut down, I wouldn't want to give one!  With the Clip Chart, I don't hesitate to say, "Clip Down," because nothing is "permanent"!  The kids can clip right back up!  No day is ever ruined in the kids' eyes.
  • The Clip Chart focuses on the positive.  I love how I can have the kids "Clip Up" all day long--there is always another level to move to!
  • Everyone starts on green.  I love that kids have somewhere to move UP, not just DOWN each day.  
  • I REMEMBER TO USE IT.  No, "Where's my clip board?" or, "Did I already give you a warning?"  I don't do "warnings" with the clip chart--the first clip down is the "warning."  Makes it easier for the kids to remember where they stand, and for me as well!
  • I worried about the "public" aspect of the clip chart, but in my experience it is motivating for the kids!  They love being able to get up in front of the class and move their clip up!
  • It is virtually "prizeless."  That is, I don't need to worry about a treasure box!  I do an *occasional* raffle with our PBIS tickets or our Boggle word slips, but I spend waaaaay less money on prizes now with the clip chart than I have with past systems (sticker charts, classroom economy, etc).  Besides saving me money, more importantly, no treasure box means the kids are striving for improvement because THEY WANT TO!  Internal motivation, BAM!  Love it!
Okay, I think that sums it up!  Tell me about your behavior management system or share your classroom management ideas by linking up below!


  1. This is a terrific post! I have worked at a school the past 3 years that have a school-wide behavior management system (it's a behavior school). With my new job starting this year in a public school, I am trying to figure out the best way to incorporate behavior management into the classroom environment. I love that this works for you - I had never used clip charts, and admittedly didn't really know the concept behind it until now! Thank you so much

    Mindful Rambles

  2. I'm famous!! Woo hoo! ;)

    I love the clip chart too! So many of the other systems just don't reward kids who always do their very best. I have used it with 2nd, 4th and 5th and will use it with my 3rds this year! I have to buy some fancy new stickers since I'm out!

  3. Great post! I tried the clip chart system a couple years ago and it didn't jive well with my style at the time. But I saved my clip chart and have it in my closet. So, if the time comes when I feel a class of mine really would benefit from this type of system, I will definitely be referring back to how you implement it...that's a piece I think I fell flat on. Thanks for posting!

    I'll be linking up next week...when I can get into my classroom and take pictures to match my system(s) I blog about. Soooo excited for this linky party!



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