The Good Behavior Game

I love my class this year, but like all years, we always have something we could work on. I noticed that some of my bunnies were having a hard time paying attention during learning time, and after trying lots of different ideas, I discovered the Good Behavior Game. My school psych first told me about it, I saw it in action by one of our *amazing* third grade teachers, and I was SOLD! Here's the link if you want to know the Official Rules... Read what I did below, but keep in mind I always tweak and modify to make things work for me! :)

To play this game, you pick one thing that your kiddos need to work on. Yes I know that can be hard sometimes, but seriously, just ONE thing! Then you pick ONE place/time (on the carpet, at their desks, centers/stations, etc.). I chose "Being a good listener while sitting at your desk." I had a hard time narrowing it down, but then I saw this poster my class worked together to create during the first days of school:
The poster hangs next to my SMARTBoard in the front of the room and has gone unnoticed over the past few weeks. Not only does this sum up many of things we needed to work on, but "Good Listener" had already been defined. Now I don't need to spend time brainstorming and explaining what I was looking for. AWESOME!

Next you divide the class into two teams: Team 1 and Team 2. I just split the desks down the middle. Then it's time to play! Basically any time you see a person not doing the behavior goal, their team gets a point. The team with the fewest point by the end of the lesson gets a prize. I'll talk more about the prizes I've been using later in this post. When you catch someone not doing the goal, you're actually supposed to call them out on it. "Oops, Johnny. Good listeners are not chatting with their neighbor." (Teacher adds tally mark to Johnny's teams) At first I felt really terrible for singling the offenders out, but how else are you supposed to let them know that what they're doing is not OK? You can't just add tally marks to the team's score without saying anything, or else the team won't know how the points got there. I think as long as you have an "oops, sorry" approach and don't go on and on and on about the offense, you shouldn't worry too much about hurting someone's feelings. You know who your super-sensitive kids are and which ones can accept the constructive criticism in front of their peers.

After explaining the directions, we first tried it during math. Team 1 did pretty well. They only got 4 points. Team 2? Yeah.... 11 points. Yikes. Everyone on Team 1 got a prize. We started over when we switched to Social Studies. This time, Team 1 got one point and Team 2 got three points. YEAH!! I was proud of Team 2 for getting it together, so everyone got the prize. We also played the game in the afternoon during Writer's Workshop. I don't remember the score, but I do remember that Team 1 won.

The next day (Friday) we tried it again in math. Team 1 got 2 points and Team 2 got 7 points. Are you seeing a trend here? I sure am! The next step is to pick out your biggest point-getters and put them on their own team. Team 3 was created, and here was the ending score after social studies:
(Sorry, I snapped this pic with my phone...)

Since Team 1 and Team 2 did so well, they each got the prize. Sorry, Team 3. It was nice to see the good listeners on Team 2 getting rewarded this time. Here's the cool thing: We did some review work in their packet, I taught the new info, and then they did another page in their packet. Normally, I would've had bunnies doodling all over their packet during the lesson, but before I started teaching, I said, "Now remember, good listeners have their pencils down and they're not drawing pictures on their packet." I'm not even joking: I caught just one student doodling! ONE!! WOW, this is really working!! I also had the school psych in my classroom during this time and he said to me after school that he noticed whenever I pointed out the bad behavior, that student immediately stopped and didn't start back up again. YESSSS!! I was pleasantly surprised that the kiddos picked up right where they left off today! :)

For the winning team, I was giving out Gotcha Stickers. The Gotcha program something we use in K-2 at my school. Gotcha stickers are little smiley face stickers that we give to kiddos when we "Gotcha being good," and when they fill up their Gotcha chart (12 stickers), they can go to the Gotcha store and get a little prize/trinket. They also get their names read during announcements. But if your class/school doesn't do incentives like that, there are lots of free prizes you could do: line up first, go to lunch/recess/dismissal a minute early, show-and-tell, switch desks with a friend, eat lunch in the classroom, stay in at recess and play a game, do a special job for the teacher, .... so many possibilities! {Disclaimer: I can't take credit for most of these. That awesome 3rd grade teacher I was telling you about above came up with these ideas!}

Of course you'll have a few kinks. I did have one instance where one student went too far, and was being pretty mean to another who had earned a point for the team. I pulled that student aside and said that sometimes people make bad choices, and that he needs to do HIS job; not worry about what others are doing. That team ended up being the winning team, and I gave everyone a gotcha, except for my friend who was being mean to his teammate. Sorry, but if you're going to be a poor sport, you're not going to get a gotcha. I learned that if I use the game with future classes, I will have to explain ahead of time that we need to build up our teammates, not put them down.

After your students are successful with one behavior goal, you can always switch it to something else. It could be lining up quietly, walking through the halls appropriately, listening on the carpet, working quietly during independent time... basically whatever your kiddos are struggling with could be your Good Behavior Game goal. I think switching it up will keep the kiddos motivated to keep up their good behavior. I know I'm only three days in, but I'm so happy with the success we've had so far!


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