It’s a new year! I wanted to start the new year off right by re-vamping my behavior management system. I started using these growth mindset brag tags I made with my 5th graders this past September and they loved the idea. Now for the new year, I decided to use them with my entire school!
What are brag tags?
Brag tags are fun little tags you can print, laminate, and cut out for your students. Students then earn tags and save them. I have my students save them on binder rings, but I have seen other teachers use necklaces or even booklets. The kids love collecting the tags! It has saved me a ton of money since I don’t have to constantly buy them prizes.
Brag tags in specials?
Yes! As a music special subject teacher I see over 500 students a week! How can I possibly make enough brag tags? Well, I don’t give them to everyone all the time.
How do I give out the tags?
At the beginning of the class period, I tell the students I will be giving out brag tags to two students who are exhibiting a certain behavior. I may put the two tags on the board or I may just tell the students. The tags I have include:
• Mistakes help me grow
• I have a growth mindset
• I made a connection
• I kept trying
• I am in control of my amazing brain
• I showed initiative
• Popping dendrites
• Kiss your brain
• I can make comparisons
• I am optimistic
• I practiced
At the end of the class, I choose two students who I think exhibited that behavior to earn the brag tag. If the class as a whole did a great job, I also pick two more students at random to earn two other brag tags. I do this by choosing two numbers from a cup (I have safety numbers on popsicle sticks in a cup). If a class is particularly amazing, then everyone can earn a brag tag that day. I try to check off who earned a brag tag on my roster so that way other students can get a chance to earn one.
Check out this FREE sample growth-mindset-brag-tags-connection to use with your class!
You can find my complete set of brag tags in my Growth Mindset Brag Tags Set
These growth mindset brag tags really helped to promote a positive mindset in my 5th grade students. Having them think about a particular positive behavior each week has really transformed the way they participate in music. I hope to produce the same results next week with my younger students! Do you use brag tags in your classroom?
Are you starting school soon? I don’t start until September 1st, but I’m already thinking of new ideas to use to get the attention of my class. We all use different strategies to quiet a noisy room (quiet claps, echoes, two fingers up, class-yes). But I wanted to think of a new way to signal for quiet while helping my kids to become more mindful.
The Mindful Machine
What you need:
A visual of a brain, which you can download below, and attach to a construction paper headband (or you can just point to your head if you don’t want to wear funny brain crowns).
How to do it:
- First introduce the new quiet signal to your class. Say, “When I say Mindful Machine and put on this headband, we are all going to point to our heads and say “shh” while lowering our arms.”
- Try it. Say Mindful Machine and have the students point to their heads and say “shh” while lowering their arms.
- You can point out that when they do it correctly, they look and sound like a giant machine getting ready to learn.
- Practice this new attention getter.
- If you really want to get creative and aren’t afraid of looking silly, get a picture of a brain, glue it to a construction paper head band and put it on every time you say Mindful Machine. This will definitely add to the visual component and I’m sure the kids will get a kick out of it. You can download a FREE brain to use to make your own construction paper headband here. Brain
- Now every time you say Mindful Machine, put your brain crown on and have the kids say “shh”. This will help them to be more mindful and stop, think, and listen to directions. Plus, looking at you wearing a brain will be sure to put smile on all of your students’ faces.
Happy Students= More Learning!
It is so important to help our students feel happy and engaged as soon as they walk through that classroom door. As a music teacher, I always start my K-3 classes off with a hello song. I find it brings them together and gives them something to do right away.
Here is a hello song I wrote to the tune of “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven to help my students feel happy and engaged.
Yes, I’m happy.
Yes, you’re happy.
We are here to learn and play.
Growing, sharing, helping, caring are some ways to start the day.
Making music with my classmates
Makes me want to shout hooray!
Yes, I’m happy.
Yes, you’re happy.
And that’s all I have to say!
You can even add student names to the song in the beginning of the year if you would like to help you remember all of those names! (example: Yes, there’s Andrew and there’s Natalie and there’s Steven and Jolene).
To make students feel especially engaged, have a student come to the front of the room and lead the class in a movement while they sing the song. For example, have a student think of an easy movement such as jumping, clapping, hopping, etc. and lead the class in this movement for the entire song. You may pick 1 or 2 students per week to do this (you may want to pick more outgoing kids first).
After a while, you can even talk about musical form with this song and have your students come up with different movements for each line of music that is different. Have fun coming up with different ways to use this song in your class.
Do you start your class off with a hello song? What songs do you use? Please feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
Happy Students= More Learning!
I have been busy trying to finish up my last grad class in Brain-Based teaching through Nova Southeastern University. I have read so many books and articles this past year that my head is starting to spin!
However, I am so excited to share some interesting, fun tips I’ve learned through my graduate studies. Hopefully you can use them in your classroom to start the year off right!
On Mondays, I will post a helpful tip, worksheet, activity, or idea to help you to create a brain-based classroom.
This week= What Went Well
You can download this FREE worksheet below.
What Went Well Day1
What Went Well Week1
Special thanks to Glitter Meets Glue for the fun pen graphic. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Glitter-Meets-Glue-Designs
What is this?
Have your students end the day or lesson positively by writing down something positive that happened to them during the day and why they think this positive event happened. (I’ve also included a weekly version if you would rather your students do this exercise on a weekly basis. Since I only see my music students once a week, I will be doing it this way. I plan on having my 4th and 5th graders attach this sheet to the back of their keyboard folders for easy access after keyboard time).
Why do this?
Because greater well-being enhances learning. When we teach our students to be grateful for the little things, they will work harder and pay more attention because they feel happier. As Dr. Martin Seligman in his awesome book Flourish (2012, p. 80) states, “positive mood produces broader attention, more creative thinking, and more holistic thinking.”
So let’s help our students get those happy juices flowing by having them think of things that went well during the day.
Happy Students= More Learning!
Neuroscience for kids? Yes!
I decided to begin an interesting journey with my music students. I am lucky to have a 25-keyboard piano lab in my music classroom. The kids love playing songs on the keyboards but hate the initial practice and work it takes to learn a song. Many students wanted to give up when they were presented with a song that they found challenging. I always told them to keep trying and that it takes a while to really learn something and be good at it.
My classroom piano lab
Even though this approach worked with many of my kids, I needed something to show the non-believers that they can get better with practice.
Enter the brain.
I am currently a Master of Science candidate at Nova Southeastern University where I am studying Brain-Based Teaching and Learning. I’ve learned so much about the brain and how we learn and I desperately wanted to bring this back to my kiddies. The challenge was to find a way to present such complex information to 4th and 5th graders.
“Popping Dendrites, Bro!”
I decided to teach my students about neurons and how when we make connections with what we are learning to something we already know, some of our neurons actually connect. I showed my students some slides on my SmartBoard about why it is so important to make these connections. We also spoke about dendrites and how when we learn something new, our neurons will actually grow more dendrites.
My 5th grade students were so interested in this. One of them exclaimed “I’m learning about how I learn and growing more dendrites!”
I stress to my students that learning takes time. We need to give our neurons time to make connections and grow dendrites. This seemed to really make sense to the kids.
I then asked my students to write about what they just learned and then think of something that reminds them about what they learned. The responses were amazing! I couldn’t believe all of the wonderfully complex connections my students were able to come up with! As one student put it, “We’re popping dendrites, Bro!”
Neurons worksheet I made for students
I can’t wait to teach my kids more about the brain. I’m interested to see if having them learn about learning will help them in the piano lab as well as in their regular classroom. A teacher can dream! 🙂
You can check out this lesson I created about the brain as well as others in my Growth Mindset Brain Unit:
Do you have any experiences teaching your kiddies about the brain? Let me know by leaving a comment below!