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Home : 2004 : Aug : 22

    My thoughts (Long!!)
    By Kathy

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    I have used the "traffic light" system for years and it can be very positive if you slant it that way. I use the green, yellow, and red just as you said, but everyone starts on green and the goal for them is to preferably stay there--or at least get back there as soon as possible.

    Here's how I make it positive:
    I call it the ICMM Club (I Can Manage Myself)
    Those students who are on green show that they are managing themselves by following classroom procedures without reminders. (Most kids like the idea of managing their own behavior and not having someone else tell them what to do!!)

    I have a 3 by 5 card for each child with their name and a sticker on it. (Sometimes I vary the stickers according to season or theme and I usually give them a new one every couple of months because they tend to become worn. Last year I used matching stickers as a grouping system for cooperative learning groups. I also started laminating the cards which made them last much longer!!)

    Children who have their pass are entitled to certain privileges. In our classroom this includes: Reading up in the loft or going to the computer when work is completed, Eating lunch at a friend's desk. (We eat in the classroom), Going to the bathroom without permission if it's not instruction time--I have a place on the door where they can place their pass--one at a time. (If they don't have their pass they can still go, but have to ask permission and use a generic pass.) I like this because I can instantly tell who is out of the room and don't have to be bothered with requests to use the bathroom.

    When I taught first grade they would also use their pass for various freetime centers I had around the room. The first graders liked to call it their "driver's license" and I expanded on that saying that just as with a real license they had to use it properly or it would be taken from them!!

    Back then I punched holes in the licenses and then put up push pins around the room (I varied the # depending on how many I wanted at that center.) Now I post the little pockets you find in the back of library books along with the procedure for that area on a large piece of construction paper. I place the same little pockets on the left hand corner of their desks where they keep their "license" when it's not in use. (I also have a holder on my desk for confiscated licenses. At the beginning of the day everyone starts out fresh!)

    The key I've found to making the color system positive is to really stress the self-management. Strongly emphasize the positive behaviors and the rewards of being self-disciplined! Another thing I've found helps is to give children a chance to redeem themselves! I tell the children that when they get on yellow, it's like a warning. There's no penalty, but they haven't earned the privileges of being on green.

    When they are on yellow they have a decision to make. They can go back to being self-managers
    and get their color back to green. If I have to continue to manage them they they get moved to red. Generally I tell the children I need to see a definite change of behavior for at least 30 minutes before they come up and tell me that they are ready to go back to green! If I don't see a change and they tell me they're ready to go back to green, then I tell them I'll watch them managing themselves for awhile.

    The trick here is to get them to want to stay on green. In our classroom it's a major event to get on red! No one wants that as then they lose part of recess time!

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