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Point System for the Music Classroom

Point system for the music classroom: Great way to reward whole class behavior!

Today, I'm continuing my classroom management series to write about a great way to reward the whole class: a point system for the music room!

Since I started teaching, I've rewarded individual students for exemplary behavior by choosing star students, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I began rewarding whole class behavior. I read this book, which is great read for any special areas team:

In the book, the author outlined a four point system for rewarding whole class behavior. I adapted it a bit from the author's ideas, and have used it since with success. In each music class, students can earn up to four points:

1 point for walking in quietly
1 point for listening well
1 point for good effort
1 point for lining up quietly

This year, I broadened “good effort” to also include good effort in being kind to one another, since our school-wide theme is kindness.

My former student teacher and colleague Emily uses the same system, but instead of “good effort,” she changed it to “smooth transitions,” which I love! I may actually switch to that in the future.

At the end of class, I tell students how many points they've earned, and tally them on a chart like this:

When they reach the end of their row (which is 25 points), they get a reward day in their next music class. I teach 50 minute classes, so I give them half of the next music class–25 minutes–to vote on what they'd like to do. I make a list on the board, they vote, and then we do the top two-three, depending on how long each activity takes. Here is a picture of one first grade class's choices, last year, from my Instagram account:

They absolutely love the reward days, and it's a great way to see what really resonates with students. Through reward days, I've discovered that my Kindergarteners love the bunny game (which you can read about here), my first graders love creating on ipads with Chrome Music Lab, and my fourth and fifth graders really enjoy “Skin and Bones,” which you can read about here.

After they've received all their points, I erase the points on the chart (which is laminated and easy to erase) and then we start over!

Another way to tally points is to use a file like this, by Teaching in the Tongass:

I actually bought this to use with my six year old as a positive behavior system, and she's loved it! It can be used with a whole class by duplicating some of the images (so that you have 25 pieces to choose from for each class.) You could have each class decide which theme they want to use and duplicate and label each slide as needed.

One more way to tally points is to give a coin per point, and have students “fill their jar” in order to get their reward. I bought these coins that say “Caught being good today” years ago on Oriental Trading. I don't use them anymore, but think they could work really well for this purpose! You could also use them for individual rewards.

The point system has been a wonderful way to give specific feedback to students about their behavior and keep them motivated! Looking for more ways to manage your classroom? Check out this set:

Do you use a point system? Feel free to comment below, and stay tuned for more classroom management posts soon on my blog! Happy teaching!

2 Responses

  1. Hi Aileen,

    Michael Linsin also writes that “…the point system is meant for the class as a whole and no individual student, no matter how disruptive, should affect the number of points given.”

    My question is, in your opinion, what if it’s two students that are disrupting the class? Or three? In other words, at what number of students does it make the problem a “whole class problem” (negating a point) as opposed to a small, non-representative group within the class? And, does the size of the class partly determine this number?

    Thank you.

    -Dan

    1. Hi Dan,
      This is a GREAT question!
      I do think it’s generally best to focus on the individual, and not the group, because regardless of the size and behavior of the overall group, there will always be students who are doing EXACTLY what we want them to.
      Even when I have challenging classes, I always have my language reflect that I know it’s not everyone. (For example, “Some of you are not making the best choices” instead of “This whole class is misbehaving!”) It’s hard sometimes to not see them as one big group, and I think it’s fine to address behavior you are seeing from a lot of the group, but I really try not to punish the whole class.
      My two cents!

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