There are all kinds of behavior incentive systems. Not all are practical for the art room where you literally have hundreds of students passing through your room each week. With the high number of students and the limited amount of contact time, what can effectively track behavior, motivate a class and target a specific undesirable behavior? Well, you might want to try the “Magic Pocket Name,” a simple but effective incentive program that I picked up from my colleagues. It can work in concert with other behavior systems you might already have in place.
It works by focusing on a specific undesirable class behavior such as talking without raising their hand, putting their own supplies away without being prompted or keeping hands and feet to themselves in line. For my classes it was paying attention and not talking any time I gave directions. My goal was to get students to focus their attention faster so that the class could receive directions and start working as quickly as possible.
Here’s the rules as you can explain to the class:
- Tell the students that you’ve picked one student and written his/her name on a piece of paper or a customized ticket, which has become the “Magic Pocket Name”.
- Put that ticket in your pocket and explain to the class that every student will eventually be the Magic Pocket Name.
- At future classes, remind the students that you have a new Magic Pocket Name – perhaps let them see that you’ve written it and are putting it in your pocket.
- **IMPORTANT: Never announce the name. Since no one knows if they are the “Magic Pocket Name” they all stay super quiet.
- Throughout the class, secretly watch that specific student to determine whether they were paying attention, following directions, etc. (or whatever behavior you wish).
- If the Magic Pocket Name student demonstrated good behavior, announce their name in line at the end of class. I’ve found that the rest of the class will show support and applaud the winning student. It’s really cute.
- Tell the students that that student’s ticket will go into a weekly drawing to win a prize from the prize box, or something similar. Each class should have their own prize drawing with multiple winners.
- If the Magic Pocket Name student was not cooperating or demonstrating the key behavior you desired, simply announce to the class that there is no Magic Pocket Name winner today.
**Now, this is important, you never say the name of a student who “lost” the Magic Pocket Name. First, it could potentially have negative consequences by embarassing the student. Second, by keeping the name unknown, they all reflect on their own behavior. It makes them think about their own actions during class. It also helps you rotate your attention through out the class for monitoring student behavior and gives you another piece of data for assesing student behavior. I simply make a note in my grade book to keep track of the Magic Pocket Names. On the other hand, when a student “wins” the Magic Pocket Name, it reinforces their positive actions and develops class comraderie through encouragement as they often remind one another to be on their best behavior. It’s a simple system that you can use on a regular basis or selectivley with challenging classes.
There are 10 minutes remaining in art class and everyone is working hard on their latest art project except for your two chronic early finishers. It never fails that some students work faster then others. When students have extra unfocused time this leaves an opportunity for behavior problems to develop. What can you do with students who finish early?
Since you never know how many students will finish early or how much time will be left in the class you might consider utilizing an “Odd Art Jobs” chart.
What are odd art jobs?
They are all those little things that eat up a lot of time and energy, which could be focused on creating great lessons, grading or helping other students. The art room wouldn’t function if these tasks weren’t completed but really anyone could get them done. An odd job could be anything from sorting scrap boxes to labeling artwork. Another added benefit is that your students take ownership and pride over the art room, its equipment and school displays.
The type of odd art jobs that you let your students do is totally dependent on how your classroom is structured. You should also take into account the characteristics of your student population. One year you may have a amazingly independent group of fifth graders that are responsible enough to look at a check list, pick a job, and complete it without explanation. The next year it might work better to keep the list as a reference tool for yourself then have kids ask you what jobs are available to help. The key is to create a system that works for your art room. In my experience, a one-size-fits all approach never works for education. In my classroom the odd art jobs chart works best for small pockets of early finishers. It’s not a good solution for when an entire class completes a project early. Check out the list of odd art jobs I’ve had students do in my classroom located below.
Odd Art Jobs
- Wash paint containers with special sponges (Usually I let them use a fun scrubbing tool I pick up at the dollar store.)
- Sort scrap boxes (I have my paper scraps sorted by color so that it’s easy to access what I need for certain projects or for classroom teachers to borrow.)
- Count out paper I need for certain grade level projects (For example, if I need 65 sheets of three different kinds of paper for my next kindergarten project I will have a student help count it out for me. This way all I need to do is cut it to size and I have exactly what I need!)
- Sort marker bins and throw out dry markers (I have the student helpers take a scrap piece of paper and make test marks on it. If a marker is dry it goes to the trash. I might even have them save the marker caps for when students lose theirs during projects. This is a great job for any age level!)
- Make signs to label different areas of the art room. (I make a list of things I would like labels for as I work around the classroom. You could spend hours labeling your supplies and cabinets. Sometimes I will pre-print the signs and the student helpers will color, cut and attach them. Some examples of signs students have made for me are how to draw book categories, warm colors, in-box, watercolor paint brush sizes and newspaper.)
- Take down bulletin boards (All of my hallway displays are at student height so I don’t have to worry about step stools. The bulletin boards are also visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do.)
- Glue project paragraphs to the back of artwork (I attach a short paragraph describing the art process and what students learned to the back of each project for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. I try to give them as much hands on time as possible so we don’t always get time to glue the project paragraphs to the framed art. This is a great job for early finishers to help with.)
- Have older kids glue or staple frames to younger kids completed art projects (I usually write the student names on the projects ahead of time. Then all my student helpers need to do is glue or staple the artwork on to the pre-cut frames.)
- Sharpen pencils (To save time while my classes are drawing I like to have my pencil bucket ready for action. Instead of kids sharpening pencils while I’m talking they simply exchange their pencil for an already sharpened one in the pencil bucket. It cuts down on interruptions and lost work time. So periodically the bucket needs to be sorted and the pencils sharpened.)
- Make Tracers for other grade level projects (I will make two or three tracers and then have student helpers trace them onto heavy cardboard. Then, I put the cardboard in our parent volunteer bin for the adults to cut out. Takes a little forethought but saves me a lot of time and energy.)
- Sort classes artwork and stuff portfolios to send home (At our schools we use portfolios to transport art work home about three to four times a year. If I have a larger group of student helpers I will have them sort a particular classes art projects into plies for each kid. Then they simply slip each students art work into the pre-labeled portfolios to send home at a later date.)
- Set up supplies for the next art class. (I often have little time in between classes to set up new supplies. So I might switch from 3rd grade to 1st grade to 5th grade. Well that’s a large amount of supplies to have out at one time and I don’t have enough counter space. So I will have early helpers take out the materials for the next class and set it up on one counter. Then when the class is over they clean up their art supplies and put them totally away. Now I have a new counter free for that class to set up supplies for the next class following them.)
- Cleaning tasks (i.e., sweep the floor, erase the board, wipe tables, clean clay tools)
- Refill art product containers (I will have students that I know can do a good job refill glue bottles, switch watercolor refills or any other job of that type.)
- Hang bulletin-boards (I usually reserve this job for older students and it is a huge treat for them. Remember, all of my hallway displays are at student height and visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do. Sometimes I even hang the first three or four pictures so that the student helpers can see what I expect them to do.)
- Cut out items that have been laminated (I have parent helpers laminate papers for me then I have a cut laminate box located in my room where student helpers can grab some laminate and cut it out.)
- Empty the drying rack (This is fairly self explanatory but, student helpers will take art work off the drying rack and put it into the proper classes box.)
There has been an explosion of Web 2.0 tools for educators. Recently, National Art Education Association (NAEA) launched an online interactive tool for Elementary Art Specialists. The goal is to link teachers with a common bond: young children and art. Escape the isolation of your classroom and communicate with other elementary art teachers on topics that impact art education.
Another great interactive resource is Art Education 2.0 reaching all levels of art education. Art Education 2.0 has over 3,000 members and counting. Find information on anything from teaching animation to VoiceThread to innovative teaching ideas in technology. To learn more about the Art Education 2.0 social network, watch the video below.
Learn about art or any other topic that interests you on Twitter. Not sure how to begin? An earlier post on Twitter may help you get started. Also, click on the SchoolArts icon below for some great ideas on using Twitter and other Web 2.0 tools from the March issue.
(You need to be a SchoolArts subscriber to access School Arts Digital)
We have all heard the phrase “don’t be a tattletale”. It was likely muttered by an adult trying to gain some sort of control over continual interruptions in a classroom setting. Although well intended, the phrase sends a mixed message to children on how to deal with peer conflict.
I have significantly cut back on unnecessary “reporting” in my classroom using the “Need to Know” technique. While I secretly appreciate when inappropriate behavior is reported, many times the information is just not something I need to know.
The student reporting can be divided into two simple categories: “need to know” and “don’t need to know”.
Need to know:
- If someone is hurt (sick, bleeding, crying, etc.)
- If behavior of someone is dangerous (someone is standing on a chair, someone poked with a pencil, tripped, pinched, hit, etc.)
- Have a problem that you have tried to solve, but cannot on own.
Don’t need to know:
- If a another student is not following the exact directions. (These are actions I might be aware of, or will catch on to shortly.)
- Feelings were hurt or student is accidentally touched/bumped. (Try to allow child to solve problem on their own for 1st offense.)
Once you have discussed your expectations and role play “need to know” scenarios, consistency in action will determine success.
- Donna reports that Brad is holding a couple markers in his hand. While Brad isn’t supposed to have anything in his hand, it is not worth stopping instruction to address it. In this case I would ask Donna “Is this a need to know?” Upon reflection her answer would likely be “No” and we could continue instruction while reinforcing understanding of the technique.
- Danell reports that Bill said something mean to him. Ask, “Is this a need to know?” Danell says yes, because he told Bill to stop and he did it again. At this point, since the child tried to handle it himself and it didn’t work, this has become a bully situation and it needs to be addressed by an adult.
While we want to help students solve their problems, often empowering them to solve it on their own is the best for the child, teacher, and classroom environment. Situations where I encourage students to solve their own problems and use their own words are: someone . . . colored on my paper, copied my idea, won’t share, is humming, made a face, didn’t clean up (see Clean-up map to address this problem).
Thank you to Gail Edgerton for inspiring “Need to Know”.
There are countless ways that the arts connect to spatial intelligence. When class time allows, I let the children use puzzles to improve their “Art Brain”. Jig Zone is an online puzzle maker and fun way to engage students and practice spatial reasoning. Jig Zone allows you to upload your own images or use some from their gallery. It also allows for differentiated instruction by determining difficulty level based on the number of pieces in each puzzle.
How you might integrate Jig Zone into your curriculum:
1. Use a digital white board and have the students work in teams to get the best time.
2. Have children try to reassemble a photograph of their own artwork.
3. Create a puzzle based on art concepts or artist study and use as a learning extension at school or home.
Click the image below and try this puzzle for yourself!
Here are some other puzzle links you may find useful . . .
Free Online Puzzle maker
Puzzle House (Online jigsaw puzzle of fine art)
Children’s Storybooks Online
Kid’s Art Jigsaw Puzzles