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Red, Yellow, and Green Cards for K-8 Classroom Management

Need a positive way to manage your classroom? Want less distractions in class and more good behavior? Try my green, yellow, and red card system.

Each student can draw their name on the first day of school and then decorate a pocket for their cards. Then, each morning, the cards are populated with green, yellow and red cards. If students don't follow directions or rules, one card gets flipped. Attach rewards and consequences to keep this a fun system for students.

  • Every green card is signed and sent home for parents to sign. Students save up their green cards. At the quarter, bring in items or create passes (bathroom pass, one day late homework pass, etc...) to auction off at the end of the quarter with the green cards a currency.
  • Red cards require a missed recess and reflection form to fill out during that recess. On another post, I will discuss a quality reflection form.
  • If cards get pulled from green, to yellow, to red, and they make another mistake and the card gets turned back to green from red, then I say green means go. The student is having a bad day and needs to discuss classroom behavior with a principal.

Your rewards and consequences may be different but this system works great to keep students on task, learning, and following the rules online.

How Much Time Do You Waste Waiting on Unorganized Students?

My students keep a binder organized with all of their work inside from the quarter in order. This creates a quarter portfolio at the end of the quarter. Also, it eliminates all time wasted on students finding papers.

Many teachers don't show students how to organize themselves. This is not an innate characteristic. Students need modeling. They need a system.

My system is to number every assignment starting with the first assignment of the quarter. Each assignment has a number and these assignment numbers are logged on my schedule (which I discuss in a different post). Students look on the schedule and write the assignment number and subject along with their name and date at the top of the page. These numbers correlate to their grade because each number is worth X amount of points.

So each assignment has a number and each subject has a divider. After each assignment is corrected or complete then it is filed in the proper place. No more wasted time - No more stacks of papers in backpacks - No MORE!

The Importance of a Schedule for Students

As adults, when you go to a meeting, conference, or class - you are given a schedule of your day. You can anticipate your day and know how information is going to be organized and presented. Please see the format of my schedule at the link below.

Daily Schedule for Mr. Peete's Class

This schedule is provided to students every morning. It has all announcements provided to students in-case they forget them when provided orally. Parents know to check the schedule for important information. All assignments are placed on the schedule according to the time they will occur during the day. Then, a running list of assignments, in number order, is provided for students to keep their binder organized. We have binder checks where all assignments need to be placed in the correct place in the binder. These assignments are developed into a portfolio at the end of the quarter and is worth a percentage of their grade. Lastly, all students know what is required of them at that they are at school to do a job.

The Negative "Stop" and the Positive "Thank You"

One simple trick to keep students behaving as expected is a simple "thank you." Many students tune out negatives - they hear it so often. "Johnny, stop playing with that!" To correct a student, often saying "thank you" and following that with the behavior you expect will immediately correct the action. For example, students are misbehaving in line. A simple "thank you for standing in line patiently" to the student in front of the misbehaved students will usually correct the situation. Another example is when a student is running down the hallway. If you say, "Johnny, thank you for walking," they will halt themselves and walk. No negatives were needed to correct the behavior. This simple trick helps schools stay a positive place. Surprising the "thank you" tactic works at all levels. Try it out!

Streaming Music in the Classroom

Do you want need a way to keep students calm? Try some streamed music playing low in class during guided practice, independent practice, reading times, or review activities. However, be careful who you stream from - lyrics, words, and commercials may distract from the calmness.

I usually stream from the sky.fm piano station. The commercials are not that bad and the kids feel the music but do not notice. Also, if you pick one station, students don't argue over the music - they just accept that it is the one station that you are listening to. Lastly, this station sometimes plays some recognizable piano songs which adds to the mix.

After a break or recess, while students walk in the door, place the music on low tell students "I want to hear to the music." This helps to end the battle for a quiet and calm classroom.

I use this link to pick a piano station for my classroom mood.

Who Is That Guy in the Picture?

Hello World,

My name is Josh Peete and I am a teacher, principal, and superintendent of a K-8 school in California. Yes, that is my picture at the top! The little girl next to the bus is my daughter Melody. I thought I needed a light-hearted photo up there to balance out that professional looking one of me. So you are probably asking, what's in this site for me?

My objective is to develop this website over time to become a Smart Beast of knowledge in education. I am in the classroom everyday trying out new strategies. The information on this site is a free resource - please share any and all of these techniques with others to help ALL STUDENTS LEARN.

Finding Your Inner Alpha Wolf

Having trouble with students calling out? Are there disruptions or distractions in your classroom that continue after trying everything? Sounds like you need to study wolf packs.

While at a superintendents meeting, I spoke with another colleague about teaching. Our conversation lead to her discussing how teachers need to have an "inner alpha wolf." She went on to describe a wolf pack and how without a clear leader, or alpha wolf, each member of the pack tries to stand up and take control. While others are continuing to do the same. Without a clear leader, each wolf struggles for control. A new wolf can enter the pack, lay down the law, and become the alpha wolf and all fighting for leadership stops.

Relate analogy to your classroom. Are students trying to fight for control and leadership of the class? Are you being the absolute leader of the class as the "alpha wolf" or are you allowing the pack to struggle for power?

Are You Covering or Teaching?

It is apart of our American educational culture to talk about "covering material" in your classroom. Covering material, does not mean that you taught the material. You may be asking, "How can I tell if I'm really teaching?"

Teachers should check for understanding every 3-5 minutes of a lesson or more. If 80% have the concept, then you should move forward. If less that 80% have the concept then you should stop and reteach. Do not more on until 80% have the concept. Then, there should be built in time to deal with the 20% that did not grasp the idea. Checking for understanding is teaching...

What does checking for understanding look like?

  • hand gestures
  • mini white boards
  • choral responses to questions
  • think-pair-share
  • visual inspection of work
  • so many more!

  • The Power of 1, 2, 3


    When required to read from a textbook, students have a tendency to space out! To help prevent space out in text reading, teach students that at anytime they all may be required to read chorally. Practice choral reading together. One person may read, then you may prompt the class with 1, 2, 3. The whole class reads after 3. Mix it up so students never know if they will be called on to read together.

    Monday Bulletin

    Though I'm in the classroom all day teaching, I'm also the school's administrator. One duty as administrator that I try to keep in mind is communication. No matter the adopted form of communication your school has, an additional Monday bulletin can help all staff stay on board for the week. Bulletins are full of all announcements, events, and other important items for the week. This not only helps certificated staff but also classified. A bulletin to count on in each persons box is something simple that administrators can do to keep everyone on the same page.

    Educator Homes

    All too often, those in education don't have time to worry about their own personal finances. That is a side thought to all of the other responsibilities and duties that seem all consuming in the education profession. Those that entered this industry didn't do it for money. Instead, it was our goal to enjoy everyday we went to work and help the next generation achieve. As time passed, many homes of educators have since become underwater meaning that loan on the house is higher than the value of the house. Also, refinancing can cost so much to do and wasn't even possible when underwater. However, educators have good news. Refinancing costs of the new HARP refinance is really low AND it is designed to help those underwater refinance without issue. HARP 2.0: Refinance Underwater Mortgages FAST

    Classroom Atmosphere = More Productive Students

    If students are comfortable in the classroom, they will be more productive. Most schools now have air conditioning and heat and this is something simple the teacher can change. Another way a teacher can really help students be comfortable in the classroom is to bring in a warm mist or cool mist humidifier. This can add comfort in climates that are really dry and can help those with allergies. Learn more about the best types of humidifiers and read mist humidifier reviews that will best help your students.


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