Brag Tags were, I decided to take a gamble and order some leprechaun tags.
Therefore, I wasn't hopeful for much participation in my "Leprechaun Trap" homework project. I figured that my usual suspects would conveniently lose the information packet, a few would give me the "I told my mom but she didn't have time." excuse, and a handful would actually turn something in.
Well, I had ordered those leprechaun tags and shown them to my kiddos, who oohed and ahhed and demanded to know exactly how to get one. Then they went out and DID IT! That's right - even the ones whose parents were too "busy" to help took the initiative, asked to borrow some green construction paper from me and turned something in! In total, 70% of the students turned in a trap - astounding!
Wow...but it couldn't have just been the Brag Tags, right? Maybe the improved participation was just because it was such a high-interest project (my kids love leprechauns). Okay, I decided to test that theory and order some Dr. Seuss tags. No homework project necessary to earn the Brag Tag this time, the kids just had to pick a Dr. Seuss book and read it aloud to the class. I have some very reluctant readers so I figured only a handful would even try to do this one. I showed the kids this Tag and told them how to earn it:
Brag Tag any time until the end of the year and that dried up the tears.
Of course, now I was hooked! At this point I had only shown my students the tags, because I didn't have anywhere to store actual necklaces. So, here were my students, taking A.R. tests, turning in projects, and reading aloud for something they didn't even have in their hands yet, they were that motivated just by the idea of getting the Brag Tags!
So I turned to my darling husband and asked him to craft me up some type of board to display my Brag Tag necklaces. It took quite a while, because of his Army schedule (he had a two week long class right in the middle of working on my board) and also because this baby went through several design changes, mostly because I kept getting new ideas! It went from a small plaque-like board to a bigger, more elaborate display. I love ladybugs, plus I'm known for doing a big Insect/spring unit each year, so I eventually came up with my final design of grass and ladybugs. Here's the board in my living room, before we added the necklaces:
At the top I have hooks to hang the necklaces, and I used a glue gun to add a small insect or flower with a student's name to the front of each one so we can keep track of which necklace belongs to which student. Right now I only have 18 kiddos, but I have enough hooks for 22 just in case!
At one point I despaired of even having enough wall space to hang it in my classroom! Luckily our Oklahoma weather changed, humidity went up and everything started falling off the walls. That's one of the inconveniences of having an Oklahoma classroom - at a certain point in the year, nothing sticks to the walls anymore. Rather than use 236 pieces of tape to rehang a bulletin board display, I decided to yank it all down and display my Brag Tag board instead! It's the perfect place - highly prominent at the front of the room, so everyone can see! Since I had the display ready, that just left the necklaces. Rather than string the tags myself, I gave my students their favorite color beads to string between the Brag Tags they have earned thus far. Now they have true ownership of the necklace! Here is one of my buddies, stringing his tags:
Here is the board, displayed in class with all of the necklaces!
Brag Tag for my students to earn for our Hatching Eggs Unit, one for Dinosaur Week and some for learning addition and subtraction facts. My students are so motivated now! They even begged for some Spelling Brag Tags since we've been doing so well on our spelling tests lately! I'm thinking of a cute bee tag for that one! I am going to try to get a school-wide Brag Tag program going for next year - but at the very least, it will be part of the classroom management plan in my classroom!
In other news, I'm attending a wedding next week and have to prepare for a week-long substitute! Ack! A whole week of lessons to prepare! The worst part is that I won't know if I'll have one sub for the whole week or a series of different people. Any advice for me either way? I've never been out this long!
Just a quick edit to add that my Brag Tags come from Image Stuff which is a great company that stands behind their products!