Monday, August 19, 2013

Whirligigs-A Fun Group Management Technique

I found a similar idea to this on Pinterest (of course!) and I adapted it to use in my small groups last year to encourage good behavior. It worked wonders with all my groups K-5, but especially with the younger ones. If you are looking for a good way to motivate your students, this is a good one to try. It also incorporates a Mystery Motivator, which comes from the Tough Kids series by Bill Jensen. 

I call these little guys Whirligigs. They are made out of pipe cleaners, very simply, by twisting one around your finger in a spiral and twisting the ends to make a circle base. I picked three bright colors and you could put googly eyes on them, which is an addition I plan to make this year. You will also need some kind of "home" for them. I have a paper basket. You could use a jar, a cup, a box...whatever your Whirligigs like best. 

I introduce the Whirligigs to the students on the first day of group. I put them on the table and tell them that the Whirligigs love to watch our group but they don't like noise, they don't like it when the group rules are broken, and they definitely don't like to be touched.  We then go over each of the group rules and we model appropriate behavior. If even one of the Whirligigs stays on the table until the end of group, the students will earn a chance to see their reward. I'll get to that in just a sec.

On the other hand, if the group rules are broken, or if it gets too loud, it scares the Whirligigs and they run away home to hide. That's okay if one runs away. That's a warning to us that we need to remember the rules. It's even okay if two run away...we just need to be extra careful not to scare the last one away. If the last Whirligig runs away, that's not okay. We review the rules and the group is over. I ask the students to think about what happened to scare the Whirligigs and to try to do better next time. In the past two years using this technique, I have only had to end a group twice. It's never fun to end a group early because of misbehavior but the students learn quickly. This is my variation of a Magic 1-2-3 intervention and it's been very effective. 

To keep it positive (the way I like it), I incorporated a Mystery Motivator to keep the students excited about coming to group and learning and following the rules. For each group, I print a chart which has 6-7 square spaces to which I attach an envelope which contains a paper with a prize printed on it. This can be anything you choose. Some I have used: Pick from the Prize Box, Let's Eat Popcorn, Choose a Game, No Shoes Day. 

During the first year, I drew a star in two of the boxes and covered each box with a sticker. If even one of the Whirli's were on the table at the end of group, I allowed a student to choose a sticker to peel. If the box reveals a star, we open the envelope to see what reward they have earned. If it does not, we try again next week.

Last year, I switched to Color Change Markers....these work beautifully. I use the white marker to draw two stars and the students use the colored markers to fill in the boxes...the star magically appears if they choose the reward box. 

Drawing two stars in the boxes allows me to use the same chart for an entire 6-8 week group and most groups will find both stars before group is over. My students have loved this system and have worked hard to earn their prizes! 

Feel free to use and adapt this idea to fit your own groups! I'd love to hear how it works for you. Leave your comments below! Happy School Year!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Welcome Back to School!

We are ready to start a new school year here at Coral Canyon Elementary! The teachers are prepared, the students are shiny and smiling, and I am very excited to keep building the PBIS culture we began implementing last year with our Principal's 200 Club and we've received a $2000.00 grant to help us do just that. This money has allowed us to dream big and we have some fun new additions in the works!

To begin the year, we have designed and posted bright, colorful posters with our school rules and expectations in various areas of the school. I think they add a fun theme to our school that will really catch the students' attention.

There are specific expectations for each area of the school: Cafeteria, Playground, Bathrooms, Buses, Classroom, etc. that students will learn throughout the year. Those students who exemplify these rules & expectations will be recognized through our Principal's 200 Club. We love to recognize students for great behavior!

I like PBIS for so many reasons but most of all for the positive approach it brings to teaching students the social and behavioral skills they need to succeed in school... and in life.

It's going to be a great school year! Let the PBIS adventures begin! :)