Brag Tags

Brag tags are a great way to motivate and reward students for various accomplishments and holidays.
One of my huge successes of the year was my implementation of brag tags. I finally figured out a way to be consistent with awarding them in addition to having a variety of ways for students to get them. Since I get a lot of questions about using brag tags, I'm going to share with you how I implemented them in my classroom this year.

Set Up and Storage
First of all, I get a spool of silver ball chain from Hobby Lobby and cut 24" pieces. Or, if I'm feeling lazy in a time crunch, {I order 24" ball chains through Amazon Prime}. Some people like shorter, keychain-like ones or binder rings, but I like chains because I also award beads (more on that later).
24" ball chain necklaces are a perfect way to collect brag tags and beads.
Then I make each student a name tag and school tag. {The punch I use is 1/8" from Michaels. Here it is on Amazon.} EDIT: I totally forgot to give Nasreen at {Upper Grades are Awesome} credit for inspiring the name tag design.
Creating a tag with the students' names helps to clear up confusion on whose necklace it is. A 1/8" punch is the perfect size for ball chains.
The tags get hung on a {Closetmaid belt and tie rack} attached to the wall with {Command strips}.
A Closetmaid belt and tie rack attached to the wall with Command strips makes a perfect storage solution. A Closetmaid belt and tie rack attached to the wall with Command strips makes a perfect storage solution.
I made the wonderful discovery this year that my {brag tag template} can also be used to label the different hooks with the students' names. I typed their names onto the template, printed on cardstock, cut them apart in strips of six tags, and then punched with a regular-sized punch. They are spaced perfectly and slip right over the hooks so I can shove them to the back. This makes it MUCH easier for students to find their tags.

There are certain tags that all students get, mostly holiday and birthday tags.
Holiday tags make a quick, inexpensive, and easy gift! Holiday tags make a quick, inexpensive, and easy gift!
The PBIS tags are also handed out when we earn a yellow ticket party or we win the traveling trophy for the week.
Brag tags can be used to reward PBIS achievements!

Individual Tags
The rest of the tags are earned by individual students throughout the year.

When students pass an operation in XtraMath, they earns a tag for that operation.
Brag tags can reward math fact mastery.
After students finish a book, they take a test on Reading Counts. If they pass, they earn a tag for that book's genre. If they already have a tag for that genre, they earn a color-coordinated bead. I run the reports and award the tags and beads on Fridays, otherwise it's hard to keep up with the large number of passed quizzes. NOTE: Be prepared for a LOT of students opening their necklaces and spilling every bead on their chain onto the floor. I HIGHLY suggest that they add tags and beads on a table, counter, or desk.
Students can add beads to their brag tag necklaces for other achievements, such as reading multiple books in a genre. Genre tags can be used to reward Reading Counts quizzes and 40-book challenge goals.
I also have a tag for a desk gnome/fairy tag for the occasional spot-check of desks.
The desk fairy can reward students who keep tidy desks.

Bead and Tag Organization
I use bead organizers to store my beads and tags. All of my genre tags and beads are in one, and the other tags are in another one. {These are the organizers pictured.}
Bead organization boxes are perfect for brag tags. Bead organization boxes are perfect for brag tags.

Other Options
Sometimes finding the wall space to display the necklaces can be a challenge. Maybe the ball chain necklaces don’t fit into the budget this year. Perhaps using brag tags with multiple class sections seems overwhelming.
Brag tag data binder pages can solve the problem of where to store students' brag tag necklaces. Brag tag data binder pages can solve the problem of where to store students' brag tag necklaces.
I have created these pages for teachers who have contacted me to help them find an option to overcome some of these obstacles. They can be used as a stand-alone book or data binder pages that students can store themselves and transport from class to class. You can find them {here}.

EDIT: One of my Facebook followers asked about celebrations and such for earning the tags. Maybe once a month or when we've earned a goal, I let them wear their tags around school for the day to kind of show them off. They get so much attention from other teachers and students who want to see their tags and they love it!

If you are interested in seeing the tags I've created, you can {check them out on TpT}.

Teachers are successfully using brag tags in their classrooms. Read about how I set up and store mine!

You may also be interested in {Brag Tags Part 2: FAQ and Troubleshooting} and {Brag Tags Part 3: Create Your Own}.

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Bath Rugs in the Classroom - Who Knew?!

Bath rugs in the classroom create soft and cozy places for your students to read and work.
This year, the most coveted cozy spot was without a doubt my round bath rugs. Something about the round shape makes them really desirable. I originally got the idea from Kristen at {Ladybug's Teacher Files}, and I included them in a Donors Choose project.

Most use them directly on the floor.
Round bath rugs create a soft and comfortable floor space for reading and working.
Then one student got the idea to lay one on his chair because he liked to use the softness to calm himself. The idea quickly spread because they made the hard chairs more tolerable.
Round bath rugs add a little extra comfort to classroom chairs. They also provide some stimulation for tactile students.
As far as holding up, one of them lost its edging somehow. And a particularly tactile student started pulling out the yarn. Otherwise, they did well in the washer and dryer and come out nice and soft.

{Here's the link} to the product if you want to pick a few up for your classroom (or bathroom). (Note: This is not an affiliate link. I just like the rugs!)

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Classroom Library Success

Read about organizational tips and tricks that I used in my fifth grade classroom library.
In the past two years, I have gone back to being a fifth grade self-contained classroom teacher. If you have read my blog for longer than that, you know that I used to teach mostly fifth grade social studies.

In my new district, it isn't really common practice to send students to the library whenever they need a new book since they do not employ library associates. (Side note: I spent the first 13 years of my teaching career in the same building teaching the same grade in the same room. It's a really interesting experience to see the differences between buildings and districts. It has really shown me that certain resources cannot be taken for granted.) Anyway, I needed to build up a classroom library since my students only go to the library once a week.

Through Donors Choose and the wonder of Scholastic bonus points, I have built up a pretty decent library. Here are some things that are really working well for me up to this point.

Keeping Track of Titles
I haven't found anything that I really love, but for now, {Booksource} is working for me. I don't have students check in and out, but it's nice when I'm going through Scholastic book flyers or the bookstore and wonder if I already have a book. There's an app, so it has come in handy on more than one occasion when I've been book shopping. Most of the titles are in their catalog, so it's simply a matter of scanning the barcode and adding it to my library. If you have something you really like to inventory your library, please leave your suggestions in the comments.

UPDATE: I got one of these and I LOVE it!!

Protecting Paperback Books
I prefer to buy the library binding whenever possible, but sometimes paperback is the way to go. Before I put the books out for students to read, I cover them in Contact paper. I found {this tutorial} that is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, though it is time-consuming.

Creating labels for the inside covers will help answer those reading level and genre questions.
About halfway through the year, I got the urge to print labels for the inside covers of the books. There were a few questions for which I just got tired of looking up answers (namely, "What Lexile is this?" and "How many points is this book?"), and I also wanted to be able to grab the book when awarding {genre brag tags} and beads if I wasn't sure of the genre. Nothing fancy. Just a Word template for good ol' Avery label 5160.

Book Display
Organizing your books by author and series help students find what they're looking for. Organize random titles in genre or reading level baskets.
I am fortunate to have a bit of built in shelving for books and such. Pictured above is the section of my library for series and author collections. The baskets are organized by genre or author for paperbacks. On the window sill, I chose a few books/series to highlight by using a plate stand to prop them up. Often times, this is where I showcase the new library additions.
Using clear wall files gives you extra storage for picture books and other thin books.
I also have some clear wall files to hold thin or oversized paperbacks. I {previously blogged} about how I use these files in other parts of my room.

Any classroom library ideas that you have found to be successful? Please share them in the comments!
How I organize my classroom library using baskets, wall files, labels, and more!