Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Practice Cards to Improve Behavior

So...for my regular followers, I know I told you that this week would be a series on Discipline with Dignity, but we are going to take a little detour because I couldn't wait to get home to tell you all about my wonderful day today!

Coach B's post today tied right into my blog!
School has been in session now for a little over a month and as much as I love my sweet 5th graders, I have a class of 6th graders that are the dread of my day.  Individually, the kids in that class are amazing, but together they form this overwhelming environment of chaos.  I found myself each night coming home and complaining about not being able to fully do Whole Brain Teaching because they wouldn't let me.  In actuality, I wasn't letting myself.  I wasn't using all of the tricks I had in my bag to get through to this class.

Not every class is the same and so I needed to do something different with this group of students. Thus, Practice Cards showed their face today in science class.  Practice Cards are simply warning cards in which students owe time practicing the rule that has been broken.  I am very lucky to have recess time in which my students can come in to "do their time".

How I am formatting my Practice Sessions are as follows:
1.  Students receive a Practice Card when they break one of the five classroom rules.
2.  For each card a student receives he/she must practice that rule (WITH GESTURES) for one minute.
3.  If a student gets three practice cards, we are calling home to talk with parents.

Today, I had five 6th graders practicing Rule 2: Raise Your Hand for Permission to Speak.  The power of the Practice Cards was not only in having the students practice the rules, but also in detouring others from breaking the rules.  It acted as a reminder of my expectations and when they saw me follow through with the Practice Cards they knew I meant business!

Class ran SO smoothly!  I was able to teach instead of harp at students for talking.  It was as Coach B says "Teacher Heaven"!  What discipline strategies do you use that reinforce positive behavior rather than dwelling on the negative?  I'd love to hear from you.


  1. I use a ticket reward system and pass out tickets to those following our agreements (rules) but have been looking into WBT for some more "tricks". If only I had recess to use for practicing! This is a great idea though - I may be able to find some practice time somewhere...

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

    1. Lisa,
      I didn't use the Practice Cards last year because I didn't have recess time, but I definitely think it can be done. I only make my students practice for 1 minute. My suggestion for you would be have them practice before or after school or one minute before they head to lunch. Would that work? I am on a 5th grade rotation, but I teach 6th grade as well. My 6th graders come in when I am eating my lunch, get it out of the way, and then leave. It really doesn't interfere with my "me" time. Let me know if you decide to implement it and how it goes.