Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peer Pressure!!

Yes, I do regularly have the "just say no" talk with my kids. Yes, I am constantly telling my kids that they are their own boss and they make their own choices. Yes, I am SO sick of kids saying "he started it" or "she told me to!". And yes, I did just introduce a new  behavior modification system into my classroom that is almost completely dependent on peer pressure! :)

About every 4-5 weeks, I rearrange the desks in my classroom. I feel it brings a little excitement to the room, keeps it from getting boring, helps split up the talkers (although, I'm beginning to think that's impossible because there are so many of them!), and helps refocus the students a little. I start off the year with the kids facing forward so that they are positioned such that their attention most naturally is on me/the board. Then, I gradually start moving them into a U-shape, and new smaller rows, etc. My biggest move is in the middle of the year when I finally arrange their desks into groups! Given that 4th grade is the year of social-blooming, grouping the students is a little daunting! My kids are already chatty, and to place  them into perfect talking position is a little risky! The benefits outweigh the potential noise, though, since collaborative learning and group work are skills that are stressed in creating future 21st century employees!

To counteract the possible chit chat, I adopted a teamwork/peer pressure system, that the kids simply know as "group clips!" :) Hanging from the ceiling  above each group of desks is a laminated sign with a number on it. Throughout the day, whenever I need them all seated or packed up or attentive, I simply pull a clothespin out of my basket and stand up front quietly. Instantly there's a flutter of activity and then silence! Whichever  group was first to follow directions (or has the least clips, if one group is pulling too far ahead!!) earns a clip on their number. Occasionally I'll give a clip to every group at the same time which is clearly counterproductive, but thankfully the majority of my kids haven't figured out the rationale behind it, yet! At the end of every week, whichever group has the most clips will get a prize! (So far, the only thing I could come up w/ is candy... but I'm open to suggestions and might even give the kids some buy in.. we'll see!) So far, the system is working out perfectly and hopefully that'll continue!

My favorite experience regarding these clips so far has been the trash talking happening because of it. Just as peer pressure can be positive or negative, so can trash talk! Our last unit in social studies was the Revolutionary War, if my students learned nothing else about it (which they did, they actually rocked this unit!), it was that the Patriots won, Loyalists lost. I bring this up now because, starting yesterday, by their own doing, I had a classroom full of Patriots and Loyalists! Haha. Whichever group has the most clips will repeatedly refer to themselves as the Patriots and the rest of their peers as Loyalists! If another group takes the lead, all I hear is, "Now we're the Patriots!!"

With these 8 clips, I believe the members of group 2 were the "Patriots" at this moment in time.


  1. What a great idea! I've never heard of the clips method. :) Very creative! For rewards, you could try no homework coupons. You'd have to stipulate which assignments don't qualify for the coupon redemption though. Also coupons for a choice game. You know, like when you have a few minutes at the end of a day and play 7-Up (Thumbs Up) or something like that, you could have a coupon that gives that person the choice of game. Or an extra computer time coupon.

  2. I think this is an awesome idea, too. You should make the prizes based on the unit you're doing (or try to?). can electrocute the losing groups when you're learning about static electricity, etc. Or stickers? Or candy probably works fine.