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

4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful way to celebrate student success!

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  2. This Is so awesome! I love this because I am a resource teacher too! I often wondered how I could incorporate more than a treasure box reward!!! Thank you for sharing! I wil definitely use this info!

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! I hope your students love them!

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  3. Hello! I've been downloading a lot of your Growth Mindset items and am excited to give them a try this year in my resource classroom. I have just printed all the cactus themed brag tags and was curious if you have a copy of the system you use to keep up with who earned what throughout the week.

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