Saturday, December 31, 2016

How I Use Brag Tags in My Resource Classroom


I want my students to be intrinsically motivated, and I hate the idea of bribing them to learn or behave (though we've all been there!). But, both learning and behaving can be hard for my students, and I want to acknowledge them when they reach their goals. I've used a data wall, but I ultimately found that to be too public. For the past year or so, I've used "brag tags" in my resource classroom. To the uninitiated, brag tags are small rectangle cards that can be earned and worn like dog tags or displayed in other ways. I actually don't call them brag tags in my own classroom- I don't really like the connotation of "bragging," but that's what they're commonly known as, so that's what I'll call them here. I've had a few questions about how I use them in my room, so here's everything you need to know!
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Set-Up

At the beginning of the year, I set up a designated "Swag Tags" piece of wall real estate. I printed off my banner (swag tags version here, brag tags version here) on colored paper, laminated, and strung up on the wall with string and command hooks. Underneath, I hung up a command hook for each student. With under 10 students in my resource group, this was easy to do. With more students, you might want to use a bulletin board with tacks to save on hooks. I ordered ball-and-chain necklaces from Amazon and made a front name tag for each student. You could also have students make their own front tag, but I color coded my classroom this year and wanted everyone to have the right color.

You're also going to want to print, laminate, and cut a whole bunch of tags to start. I use this toolbox to organize mine and makes it so much easier to see when I'm running low and find what I'm looking for.



What Do I Give Tags For?

Students earn tags for concrete academic accomplishments. In our class, that means mastering a Dolch sight word list or reaching a new reading level. Last year, I also gave out "homework club" tags, but this year students turn in their homework to their general education teachers. I also have a character education component. I use Sarah Plum's wonderful Clippin' for Character positive clip chart, and I track what positive character traits students clip on for throughout the week. The clip chart comes with brag tags for each trait. I also use additional brag tags to keep the kids excited, such as my cactus-themed growth mindset tags. My kids love emojis, so I've been mixing in some emoji brag tags linked to showing character and positive behavior.

Tracking & Distribution

I keep track of tags earned throughout the week on a clipboard by simply noting each day who clipped onto the chart and who reached certain goals. On Fridays, I consider any additional brag tags I want to give out (like the emojis) and make a note on my clipboard. First thing on Friday, I ask the kids to get their tags one at a time and I announce what they earned. I don't announce specific levels unless the student wants to share. This is generally a very positive time as students celebrate each others' accomplishments. They have the choice to wear their tag all day or to hang it back up on the wall. If they wear it, they're responsible for returning it to me or their general education teacher by the end of the day. Trust me, if those tags go home, they're not coming back.

I love that my students have a concrete way to celebrate their accomplishments and feel good about themselves. If you're looking to start using brag tags in your classroom, you can check out the ones available in my store here

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Teacher Gift Guide 2016

Do you have any fellow teachers on your shopping list this year? Don't get stuck frantically wandering around Target this year-- check out some of my picks below and order online!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Teachers Believe Black Lives Matter Sweatshirt
The original T-shirt design is now available as a sweatshirt! Perfect for your favorite socially conscious teacher to wear on casual Fridays. 

2. Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
If you're a teacher yourself, you know how much time TPT can save you. Treat your teacher-friends to some extra time this holiday by gifting them some TPT cash!

3. Lush Bath Bombs
Help your teacher-friends indulge in some self care with some beautiful bath bombs. There are certainly a lot of other brands available, but I love that Lush is an ethical company!

4. Teacher Therapy Coloring Book
I love this fun coloring book from Kristin Edwards. Perfect for de-stressing after school! Don't forget to include colorful markers or colored pencils to complete the gift.

5. Flair Pens
I mean, you can't go wrong with these classics. They're everyone's favorites for a reason. They'd go great with a gift card if you want to give a physical gift and not just a card! 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

7 Festive Finds From Amazon For Your Classroom


Want to make your classroom a little bit more festive this holiday season? If you don't want to stop sipping cocoa by the fire long enough to leave the house, check out these Amazon finds instead! 
This post contains affiliate links.

1. Gold Star Garland How pretty are these sparkly stars? These would great hanging from your door frame or classroom window.
2. Flashing Holiday Hat I am 100% that teacher who wears silly hats for each holiday. This beanie even flashes!
3. Balsam & Cedar Spray Bring that holiday scent into your classroom with this festive room spray.
4. Wintery Wall Hanging This wall hanging would be perfect for a holiday photo shoot or for your library.
5. LED Twinkle Lights These would be gorgeous pretty much anywhere in your classroom. 
6. Mittens Pillow So cute for a reading nook!
7. Holiday Erasers My Target is an eraser DESERT. If you can't find those cute little mini erasers at your local dollar spot, you can always snag them from Amazon!

Need a holiday bulletin board too? Check out my Season of Giving Bulletin Board Kit!


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