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Classroom Systems

By: Jessica Burkhalter
These systems of rewards and consequences emphasize the techniques needed for successful classroom management.

From the very start of the school year, the way a classroom is managed will impact the instruction that takes place. The systems below outline some classroom management techniques you can use to create an environment where both learning and fun can take place.

A reward jar

Decorate a glass jar. When students receive a compliment or praise from other staff members in the building, drop a bean, cotton ball or marble in the jar. When the jar is full, reward students. You and your students may decide what rewards are appropriate by discussing different options, such as a popcorn party, extra recess time, or some other fun activity.

Gumball machine

If your students' desks are grouped into clusters, this classroom system is a great way to reinforce cooperative learning. Place a large picture of a gumball machine on the side of a desk within each cluster. As you observe the class, look for examples of students working together effectively. Students helping peers within their cluster is an example of effective cooperative learning. When this behavior occurs, reward the entire cluster by placing a colored sticker in the shape of a gumball on the picture of the gumball machine. When the cluster has filled their gumball machine, reward the group with a small token (stickers, pencils, etc.). It is important to determine ahead of time how many gumballs will be required to fill the gumball machine.

Colored cards

This system is designed to teach individual students the consequences of not following the class rules. Make four colored cards for each child in your class. (For example: red = 1st consequence, blue = 2nd consequence, orange = 3rd consequence, and green = 4th consequence). Obtain a large poster board. Glue pockets to the board (such as those found on the inside of library books). You'll need one pocket for each student. Place a set of colored cards within each pocket. Explain to students that these cards will be used only if they misbehave.

Examples of consequences:

  • First card pulled: Verbal warning
  • Second card pulled: Lose five minutes off recess
  • Third card pulled: Phone call to parents / 10 minutes off recess
  • Fourth card pulled: Visit to principal's office

You should have a brief (private) discussion about why you've asked the student to pull a card. It is important that students understand why their behavior was inappropriate.

Consequences should be discussed, agreed upon and understood by you and your students when the system is first implemented. At the end of each day, cards should be returned to their pockets so they are ready for the next day.

Jessica Burkhalter (2003)

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