Clip ChartClip Chart eBook

Here's an idea I got from my son's third grade teacher, a truly gifted man by the name of Jonathan McDade. It's a wonderfully simple strategy that I was able to use in my own classroom with great success.

And now that I'm no longer in the classroom--I resigned from my school district June 30, 2008 after thirty-one years of teaching and three years of a leave of absence--I've been sharing this same strategy as a part of the discipline seminar I present at schools and districts.

Lately, though, I've received a number of email requests about the idea from teachers who had heard about it from another teacher and were looking for a bit more information about how it all works. Thus, this free teacher's guide.

The book will show you how to get started, how to use the included blackline masters, and how to add new features to make the whole thing really click with your students.

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Make Your Own Chart or Buy One of Ours

Although the Clip Chart teacher's guide will show you how you can make your own chart, a lot of teaches prefer the professional look and feel of the Clip Chart we sell. It's $20 and is made of 12-ounce nylon that will last for years.

Clip Chart available in our online store

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Colors Used in the Clip Chart

A frequently asked question is why I chose red as the top color. You can find my reasoning on page 28 of the Clip Chart eBook. To download just page 28, click on this link:

Why is Red the "Good" Color?

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Teacher Suggestion

I love your Clip Chart!  It takes care of the uneasy feeling I get when using the standard red, yellow, green chart.

Here's my idea based upon your idea (Reward Indicators, page 25 of the Clip Chart eBook) about allowing students to add some kind of recognition awards to their clothespins whenever they've reached the top of the chart:

Draw a stripe on the front end of the clip (a short line across the width of the clip, not the length).  Once they have 5 or 10 stripes ( I don't know how many would fit) the clip could then be retired for a new color of clip.

Clothespin with stripes

They do something similar in my son's taekwondo class by giving them stripes (skinny stickers) to wrap around their belts each time they bring a "good" behavior report from home.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Elementary Teacher

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Hanging Your Chart

It will be easier for your students to move their clothespins if there is a gap between the chart and the wall from which it hangs.

Here's an easy way to accomplish that.

  1. Buy a pack of Sun Screen Fabric snap grommets. (Home Depot, 4 bucks)
  2. Place the top half of a grommet on the chart and trace the inside circle.
  3. Cut around the circle with an exacto knife, remove the cut piece, and pop the bottom half of a grommet up through the opening.
  4. Place the top half over the bottom half and bang it with a hammer.

Clip Chart grommets

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Parent Contact, Take 2

At a recent presentation on discipline for student teachers at Cal State Fullerton, one of them asked this question:

"Can there be a Parent Contact level at the top of the chart?"

Wow. What a great idea.

Adding another Parent Contact level above Outstanding makes the Clip Chart that much more positive and rewarding for the students. It would also help to portray the teacher as someone who has a balanced approach to parent communication. More than just a litany of bad news, the teacher is also intent on the sharing the good.

Now it's just a matter of:

  1. The placement of the new Parent Contact level.
  2. Deciding how the good news will be shared or communicated.

Here's what I'm thinking about the placement of the new level.

Chart Levels

  1. Top of the Chart: clothespin clipped vertically.
  2. Off the Chart: clothespin clipped to shirt, necklace, or lanyard.
  3. Parent Contact: clothespin clipped to Parent Contact sign located above the Clip Chart.

Kind of up to you how you go about it. Something written is always nice since it's a tangible reminder of the occassion. Maybe a little half-page rah-rah thing you could hand the student in the presence of the parents. Or if the parents cannot be present, the note can be sent home for the family to enjoy.

A Different Kind of Phone Call
Another way to communicate the child's success with the parents would be to have the student place a phone call home as soon as the clip hits the new Parent Contact level. This was something I did in my own room for years as a way for good news to be sent without me having to place a call later. Whether it was for outstanding behavior, having the top score on a test, or some special accomplishment, it was always fun to watch a student--using our classroom phone--share the good news with the folks.

Note: You do have the issue of a student making a call and then doing something that causes the clip to go down a level. But I think that's a minor issue and shouldn't trump the fact that the level was reached in the first place.

Super Star?
And how about another level above the Parent Contact sign called Super Star? You could make a sweet little star-shaped sign for the students who go above and beyond the others.

Last Thought
The possibilities for adding features to the basic chart are definitely there. It's just a matter of trying something new and seeing what happens. And although it may be a bit of a bumpy ride at first due to the novelty of the addition, rest assured that you can always fine-tune the details as you and your students gain experience and insight with the new feature.

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