Clothespin Clip Chart

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Student wears the necklace of clothespins

The Clothespin Clip Chart is a simple behavior management strategy. Every student has a clothespin with his name on it. The clothespins are clipped to a tall chart that is divided into seven sections. From the top down, the sections are labeled: Outstanding, Great Job, Good Day, Ready to Learn, Think About It, Teacher's Choice (as a consequence), Parent Contact.

At the beginning of the day, all of the clothespins are clipped to the Ready to Learn section. Then, during the day, students move their clothespins up or down the chart based upon their behavior. As I explain the technique during Interactive Discipline seminars, I share some of my own experience using it.

A student had his clothespin clipped to Outstanding. I then told him to "Clip up," or move his clothespin one section higher.

"It's already at the top, Mr. Morris," he pointed out.

After a pause, I walked over, removed his clothespin from the side edge, and reclipped it to the top edge of the chart. There was a quiet, "Oooohhhh," from the students. Thus was born the new section: Top of the Chart.

Fast forward a week or so. A student's clothespin was in Top of the Chart mode when I showed her the "clip up" sign. (Index and middle fingers come together like the blades on a pair of scissors and then a thumb's up. Clip. Up.)

She pointed at the chart. When I turned to look, I saw her clothespin sticking up from the top edge.

"Excellent," I said. "Now what?"

She shrugged her shoulders but clearly wanted some kind of special recognition. So, I walked over to the chart, removed her clothespin, and clipped it to my shirt. Everyone was, to put it mildly, impressed.

Well, the next day one of my students brought me a necklace. His older sister had just had a baby and the family had been making baby necklaces that contained lettered beads for spelling out the name.

"Here, Mr. Morris," he said as he handed me a necklace. "I made this for you. I thought you could wear it and clip clothespins to it."


After thanking him and giving him a hug, I put it on and wore it proudly. In fact, for the remainder of the year, putting on the necklace was the first thing I did to start class for the day. And at least once a day, someone would end up with his or her clothespin clipped to the necklace.

Anyway, to make a long story short--if it's even possible at this point--a teacher told me that she allows her Student of the Day to be the one to wear the necklace. Even if no clothespins are clipped to the necklace, it still acts as a simple reminder to everyone that the wearer is the day's special student. And if a clothespin does get clipped to it, we're talking icing on the cake.

What a great idea. Thanks.

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Clip Chart insight

During one of the afternoon breaks, I was approached by a teacher who wanted to share his appreciation for the Clip Chart I had just presented.

What I really like about the Clip Chart technique is that the students who are making good choices during the day will actually gain a sense of accomplishment as their clothespins are moved up the chart.

With the color-coded pocket chart that everyone has been using forever, the students don't get to experience that same feeling. They just end up on the color they started at--the color everyone starts at--because their behavior did not warrant having the top color removed. That's not a bad thing but nothing like moving your clothespin up that chart.

You know, I've been sharing that idea for years. It's a strategy I picked up on a vist to my son's third grade classroom taught by a wonderfully talented guy by the name of Jonathan McDade. Not once, though, have I ever voiced what should have been an obvious advantage of this behavior management technique. It just proves the adage: None of us is as smart as all of us.

I now have professionally printed Clip Charts available for purchase. A woman who loves the idea and uses it with her class had her husband, a printer, make a deluxe chart out of heavy-duty vinyl. It measures 12" by 50" and is designed to last for years. If you'd like one, Clip Chart is available in our online store.

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Give me some bling

Teacher (during a seminar):
I've been using the Clip Chart with my sixth grade students with great success. I was worried, though, about putting clothespins on my lanyard for the students who are "off the chart" for their outstanding behavior. I felt they might think it was too immature.

So what I did was call the clothespins on my lanyard "bling." They loved the idea and love to hear me say, "Oh, I got some bling," as a student brings me his clothespin.

Very cool. Keep up the good work.



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