Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Classroom Management with Cones

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Helloooooo June! As I use my blog to connect with teachers from other parts of the country, I can't help but feel envious this time of year. For many people, the school year is already over!!! We go until June 18 here in Maryland, so I have a few more weeks to try and squeeze in as much quality music-making as possible.

To avoid the feeling of "limping across the finish line," one thing that I like to do at the end of the school year is test out new things. Sometimes it will be a new folk dance or re-doing an activity that I wasn't too sure about the first time. I have also found that the end of the school year is the perfect time to test out new classroom management techniques. I like to see if they may be worthwhile so that I can plan to implement them at the beginning of the next school year.
And that, my dear readers, is why I just bought 28 little plastic cones from the Target dollar section.

Last year, I had the privilege to spend a day visiting and observing a veteran music teacher in my county. She told me at the beginning of the day there was one class that particularly troubled her. She felt that their behavior was very poor... I was fascinated to see how she used these cones to reinforce positive behavior during music class.

  • For the first 10-15 minutes of class, she would point out the students who had exemplary behavior. When she complimented a student, he/she took a cone off the pile and placed it under his/her chair.
  • As class continued, any time one of those students showed good behavior she would say something along the lines of, "Great job! This is why you earned a cone earlier."
  • When they started a game or song, she would select volunteers and helpers from the people with cones FIRST, and then invite the rest of the class to join in.
It worked like a charm! The students tried so hard to earn cones... I hardly saw any behavior issues pop up during the class at all. At the end of class, the students put their cones back on the pile. A sturdy, re-usable reward system.

So last week, when I was browsing the Target dollar section and came across these cones, I immediately thought of the teacher I observed. I just HAD to buy the cones. I like that they are assorted colors because it means that I can also use them for grouping, etc. in other activities.

I put them on my cart and tried them out Friday with first and second graders and they were such a great incentive! I like it better than our token economy dollars because they are clearly visible. Students worked SO HARD to earn cones and I had to promise that I would bring them back another day so that more students could get a chance to earn them.

I am so glad I decided to try this out now, at the end of the school year. I think this idea's a keeper!