Updated: May 5, 2020
One topic that I always get a lot of questions on is how I use the house system in my classroom! This classroom management style is something that has been circulating all over social media since it was seen at the amazing Ron Clark Academy. What is magical about this system is that it celebrates teamwork and collaboration and supports a tight knit classroom (or whole school) community. I know people use it whole school, however I am going to talk to you about how I use it in my classroom. First of all, if you haven't checked out this amazing resource from Miss 5th, do so now! She does an amazing job describing how to start it off in your classroom as well as a resource to create your own crests, and was honestly MY inspiration to bringing it into my classroom!
My very first year using it, I started off with four House crests. This slowly transformed into five houses, and then finally ending up with six. but this year I will be incorporating 5. I have 30 students this year, and therefore loved having an even amount of 5 in each group. If a new student comes along I will put them in the house I feel like needs a little extra oomph. I sorted them by putting their names into a random generator and then transformed those results into a fun interactive slideshow. I had the student come to the front of the room, sit on a chair as I played what house they were sorted into. It was so fun to see their reactions and to do it in a creative way. Once they were sorted, I changed their icon on classDojo to their crests so I could easily see what house they were in. I like using ClassDojo because I like using one app for everything. In case you haven't checked it out yet it honestly is a great resource for contacting with parents, posting pictures and even displaying student work.
On the first day of school I have a slideshow that goes over the different crests and their meanings. My hope is to discuss the characteristics that I will be looking for in my class, and for them to get an idea for what they are standing for. You can find the slideshow, as well as al my house necessities here. After they are sorted I will be doing a few group building activities such as minute to win it games and task cards to get to know one another better. We also discuss how students can get points and i've done it two different ways. Some years I discuss with my class what are ways they think they should earn/ get points taken away, and other years I just choose what it will be. Usually year to year they stay pretty much the same for positive and negative points: eye contact, superior speaking, collaboration, Above and Beyond thinking (gets 2), Academic Achievement & School Spirit. I give negative points for: not having eye contact, being disrespectful, using the bathroom during the time they shouldn't (mostly to get students to go during recess, not when I'm teaching. I have found if they truly need to go they'll take the point but if it's to get out of what we're doing they quickly change their mind. My biggest pet peeve is STRAIGHT after recess *shakes head*) being unprepared, and one for missing work (i.e if they lost it and I need to make another copy). I have these displayed on each table group i.e. the lovely ikea frames and change them out once they get the idea.
Throughout the year we also have house games to build teamwork and so during the first week of school a house leader is voted upon. I have them choose it by having interested students give a little 1-2 minute speech as to why they would be a good house leader. Students only in that house vote and the one with the most votes wins! I like to reiterate that these are people who don't mind giving up recess or lunch to speak about issues, rewards, and plan out house games. This year I am doing house games differently by having a quick house game/team builder each Friday. These range from STEM challenges, trivia, house competitions and team building games. I feel as though it is important to reward them for working hard during the week, and to build relationships with those in their group.
Lastly, comes the reward right? This year I decided to give houses rewards for the winners each month, trimester & year. Monthly will be something small such as a homework pass, hot cocoa pass, sit with a friend etc. however, they get to spin a wheel with these prizes on it. Wherever it lands is what they get. Trimesterly will be something a bit larger like a treat and my yearly winners will get a pizza party at lunch. I do this to keep it exciting yet not too expensive on my end! All in all, this works for me! The best way to make anything work in your classroom is to make it your own! Hope this answered any questions you might've had!
If you would like even MORE information, make sure you check out my podcast, Tales of Teaching on anywhere you listen to podcasts.