Positive reinforcement is a classroom management strategy that I use as often as possible. Recent research solidifies my reasons for using these techniques.
I have one particularly challenging class this year and all my tricks of the trade have not been working. As a result of my frustration, I developed the “Website of the Week” positive reinforcement program to motivate students to behave appropriately.
I started by gathering a list of fun websites appropriate for students to access independently. I created a slip of paper for each site that included a compliment on their excellent behavior, the web address and an image from the site. Since the “website of the week” is only given to students who demonstrate good classroom behavior, I needed to create a system that was easy to track, but also respectful to all students.
My tracking system involves keeping a sheet of paper with the homeroom teacher name on it on my desk. If a student acts innaproiately (talks while I am talking, runs in the room, etc.) I quietly ask the student to write their name on the sheet of paper. At the end of class, I only give the “website of the week” to students whose name did not appear on the list at my desk.
Also at the beginning of each class, to generate excitement, I ask the students what they thought of the site from the previous week – knowing very well their answer would be positive. (Any child without computer access I allowed to come in for a few minutes during lunch to try it out.)
I went from about 10 students a month ago who did not receive the “website of the week” down to one last week. This once challenging class has transformed into one of my easiest to manage while also using technology to learn and reinforce art content!
Here is a list of fun websites you might like to use for “Website of the Week.”
- Artsology: Games and Activities
- Asian Games | Freer & Sackler Galleries
- Curator Collection
- Go West, Young Artist: ArtEdventure
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Brain Pop- Architecture
- Portrait Detectives
- mr. monster head
- Mr. Picassohead
- Visual Illusions
- Albright-Knox Artgames
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for Kids
- Artsology: Coloring Book
- Cézanne’s Astonishing Apples
- ARTSEDGE: Playing with Shadows: An Introduction to Shadow Puppetry
- Detail Detective
- How Van Gogh Made His Mark – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Street to Studio: draw online
- The Dancers and Degas
- Aminah’s World
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- Tate Kids . Games . My Imaginary City
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – MuseumKids
- Cartoonster – Fun Flash Cartoons and Animation Tutorials!
- Make-a-Flake Snowflake Maker
- Paper airplaines
- BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF
- color and meaning
- National Museum of Wildlife Art | Carl Rungius
- A Lifetime of Color – Intermediate
- The Artist’s Toolkit | Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- MoMA | online projects | Art Safari
- MoMA.org | Destination Modern Art
- Paper University
- Design a room – Geffrye Museum
- Architect Studio 3D
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Glass
- The Cleveland Museum of Art
- Living Colour Australian Museum online
- Make a Monster – Universal Leonardo
- Discover Art–Creatures at the IMA Home
- GettyGames (Getty Museum)
- KidsArt Top Ten Art Lists
- Matisse for Kids
- Hands on Crafts
- SAAM: Meet Me At Midnight
- Kids Corner – Bottlecaps to Brushes
- Jewellery Designer
- Portrait Detectives Homepage
- New Britain Museum of American Art – Family Programs > Online Games
- Smithsonian: Kids
- Design a Coat of Arms
- BBC - CBeebies - Print and Colour
- Rain-forest Drawing Lessons
- Crayola Creativity Central™
- Drawtoy – a drawing toy
- Every Coin Tells a Story
- Etch a Sketch online
- Kaleidoscope Painter
- Museum of Childhood Kaleidoscope
- Sketching Symmetry
- Haring Kids
- Jackson Pollock painting tool
- Learn How to Draw with Billy Bear
- Mark Kistlers Drawing Lessons
- ProtoZone Interactive Games
- The Toy Maker
- Bembo’s Zoo word games
- Street to Studio: The Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat
- The Renaissance Connection, from the Allentown Art Museum
- Material World – Fun with Animal Materials
- National Museum Scotland – Egyptian Tomb Adventure
- Design a Tile- International Arts and Crafts
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for Kids
- Face It!
- Gallery Game with Sounds
- Be a Roman Artist – Mosaics and Murals
- National Gallery of Art
- Decorate a Gingerbread Man
- Getty Devices of Wonder
- Learn about Color
- Aaron’s Awesome Adventure (The Met)
Learn how to shrink or customize any of these URL addresses with Tiny URL.
After you get all of the routines and procedures in place, how do you reinforce those positive student actions? One way is by creating a Positive Reinforcement Game Board for your art room. I discovered this system from my colleague, Cassie, when I first started teaching and we shared a classroom. The game board can be as simple as a piece of poster board or as elaborate as your imagination can make it.
When I started using the game board it was called the “behavior game.” I know, how unexciting, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. This year I asked my students to come up with a new theme for the game board and they choose Artopoly based on Monopoly. Many of the game board spaces have images of public art found in Chicago instead of the traditional Monopoly spaces. You can pick any theme for your game board such as an artist palette, a book like Mouse Paint or a museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago. The idea behind it is simple but very effective in motivating my elementary students. Follow the classroom rules and you can advance around the game board to earn a reward.
Here’s how it works:
- The game board rules are your classroom rules.
- Each day your classes can earn a certain number of spaces to advance on the game board by following the classroom rules. My classes earn up to five spaces a day, but you can pick a number that works for your classes. I keep track of how many spaces my classes have earned by drawing stars on the dry erase board.
- When the students are lined up at the end of art class, move their class game piece forward the amount of spaces they’ve earned for the day. At first my class game pieces were little flags made out of construction paper and push pins. Now they are made of scrap leather bookmarks that a local bank had extra of from a free give away and T-pins.
- When a class reaches the end of the game board they earn a big reward! Remember, because this is a long-term incentive, the reward needs to be very enticing to your students. For my classes it’s an art party with numerous art centers to choose from while an art-themed movie is playing. Art centers can be a collage with scrap boxes, free draw, scented markers, gel pens, stamps, tracers, modeling clay, play dough, puzzles, leftover chalk pastels, leftover oil pastels, colored pencils, how to draw books, watercolor, crayons, weaving, markers, computers or murals on butcher-block paper. Basically, art centers are any media that encourages exploration, development of fine motor control or won’t cost extra.
New Twist on the Game Board
This year my school district adopted new nutrition rules that do not allow food to be used as a reward. I used to have a popcorn art party when a class reached the end of the game board with the art-themed movie and a few extra art activities. To replace the popcorn, my classes generated a list of art centers (listed above) that they would like to earn as they advance around the game board. When a class lands on a ? space I ask them an art question based on the content we studied that day or from previous years. If they answer the question correctly they earn an art center. To keep track of what each class has earned, I drew fish bowls to go with our all school behavior system The Fish Philosophy. This new twist on the game has worked out great! Students are working even harder to earn an art party but they don’t realize it. It also gives me another way to review content studied each day in class.
Create an elementary art environment that praises and encourages desirable student behaviors. Learn how to reward good behavior in a meaningful way that helps develop intrinsic motivation. Check out our “Positive Reinforcement” tip sheet that gives creative ideas that can be adapted for any classroom.
- Some examples of positive reinforcement from our tip sheet includes:
- Create a slip of paper with a fun website of the week. Distribute it to students caught doing the right thing.
- Xerox fun “how to draw” pages. Give out to hard working students.
- Create a compliment slip for children to fill out about other children (example). This can be filled out at any time during class (except clean up). You need to teach that the compliment must be specific. (Not just Joe was nice.) Read compliment out loud for class to hear and give to compliment recipient.
- Create a positive reinforcement game board (example).
- For the complete positive reinforcement tip sheet, click here.
Thought I would pass along this article from Science Daily based on the research of learning styles of children. This could prove helpful when developing behavior management systems in your classroom.
The picture to the left shows the areas of the brain involved in cognitive control following positive feedback in children aged 8 to 9.