Saturday, July 30, 2016

Brag Tags {All Your Questions Answered}

I know I have said it before, but brag tags are a great classroom management tool.  Wait, they are better than great.  They are effective.  Brag tags motivate students to work hard and make good choices.  They encourage students to maintain (and adopt) positive attitudes.  And, they help reinforce citizenship skills and personal responsibility.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Almost.  Only it is true!  Having used brag tags for several years now, I can honestly say that they have been a total game changer for me and my students.

I frequently get asked lots of questions about brag tags. Today, I'm sharing many of those questions, along with my answers. My hope is that the information will help you as you begin, or continue, to use brag tags in your classroom.


First, please know that there is no right or wrong way to use brag tags.  How you choose to use brag tags in your classroom will ultimately boil down to personal preference and what you know will work best for you.  Brag tags are versatile and can be used to fit your management/teaching style. Hopefully the information in this post will help you to find a system that works for you.

All of the answers that follow are based on my personal experience and management style.  I'm in no way suggesting that my way is THE way.  Instead, I'm hoping that you can use this information and take what works for you and modify/change the things that don't.  Knowing how you're going to use brag tags is important, but it's also important that you decide how that needs to look and how that will work for you.

So, let's get started!

What are brag tags?
Brag tags are a classroom/behavior management tool that allows you to quickly and easily recognize, encourage, and reward positive behavior and student effort.  You can also recognize and reward students for their participation, positive attitudes, setting and meeting goals, making academic progress, and more. Best of all, they motivate students to make good choices and do their best.

Literally speaking, they are little tags that students earn by making good choices, working hard, meeting goals, setting a good example, demonstrating a positive attitude, and so on.  Students collect tags throughout the school year and add them to a chain necklace.


Where do you get the necklaces?
I usually purchase my necklaces on eBay.  But, if eBay isn't something you're into, you can also find them on Amazon.
 
Do you have to use a necklace?  What are some alternatives?
You absolutely do not have to use necklaces.  This is one of those preference things.  I like the necklaces. They are easy to store and the the kids love them.  But, one alternative is to let your students collect their tags on a loose binder ring that they attach to their backpack.


You could also let your students collect them in a library pocket or a hanging shoe organizer that you might have space to display somewhere in your room.  

When do your students wear their brag tags?
My students wear their brag tag necklaces whenever they earn a new tag.  On Fridays, everyone wears their necklace.  I do have a strict hands off policy though. If a student plays with their necklace or is allowing it to distract them, off it goes.  I take the time at the beginning of the year to explain this expectation and remind students that our learning is most important.  If they are busy playing with their necklaces, they aren't focused on their learning.

Do you let your students keep their brag tags?
I do!  During the year, the students earn their tags and add to their collection.  At the end of the year (the last day to be more specific), they get to take their necklace home to keep for forever!

Do you let your students take their brag tags home throughout the year?
No.  If they take them home, they may never come back.  The brag tags stay at school until we are ready to send them home at the end of the year.

Where do you store your brag tags?
I store my prepped and ready to use brag tags in DMC floss organizers (the thread used for cross stitching) on a shelf behind my desk.  This gives me easy access to the tags and I can easily see what I have available.  You can read more about my ready to use storage HERE.


You can find these organizers on Amazon (but they are usually cheaper at the craft store).

The students also have a space to store their brag tag necklaces. Their necklaces hang on a small space of wall behind our classroom door.  I label each necklace with student numbers rather than names so that I can reuse the labels from year to year.


You can grab these free numbers HERE.


Are they difficult to prep?
Not at all!  First, you print your brag tags.  Next, you laminate them.  Then, you cut them out.  Finally, you punch a hole in the top of the tag.  That's it.


Tip: I like to use a paper trimmer to cut mine.  This speeds up the process and allows for accurate and precise cutting. You can purchase this paper trimmer on Amazon, or in craft stores.

I don't have a color printer at school.  How do you print your tags in color without breaking the bank?
I don't have access to a color printer at school, so I definitely understand this concern. I do all of my color printing at home (brag tags, task cards, and everything in between).  I am a member of the HP Instant Ink program.  By paying a nominal monthly fee, I am able to print upwards of 300 pages per month. When I start to run low on ink, my printer lets HP know and they automatically send me more ink.  It's a very magical experience.  For real!  HP offers different plans, and you can change your plan at any time. You do need to have an eligible printer, however.

Another option for printing brag tags without breaking the bank is to use black and white designs that have been printed on brightly colored card stock.  I use these in my classroom alongside the full color tags and the students love them just as much, and they are just as motivating as the full color version.



How many brag tags do I need when starting out?
You don't have to start with a ton of brag tags (unless you want to).  When I first started using them, I prepped what I knew I would be most likely to use right away.  I wanted to have variety too, so I printed about one tray's worth of tags.  Once I realized how much I loved using them, I began adding tags to my collection.  Now, I have five organizer trays full of brag tags because they have become the main management tool in my classroom.

Do you send a letter home to parents explaining brag tags?
I don't send a letter home specifically about brag tags, but I do mention them, briefly, in my beginning of the year handbook (a multiple page document we are required to send home at the beginning of the year). I explain what they are, how the students can earn them, and when they are worn/go home. I also go over them during my Back to School Night presentation.


Do you use any other management tools in your classroom, like a clip chart?
Although brag tags are the main behavior management tool that I rely on, I do have another management tool in place.  I also have a clip chart.  Our school encourages us to use more than one management tool and clip charts tend to be the norm where I am.  The clip chart mostly gets used when my students clip UP for earning a new brag tag (they can clip up for other things too, but I've found a way to tie the brag tags to the chart).  And, my students know that if they clip to the top of our clip chart, they can earn a new brag tag.  It works great and it helps the students to look at the clip chart in a more positive light.

How often do you give your students a brag tag? Every day? Weekly? Every other week?
I give my students brag tags when I see that they have earned one.  I end up passing them out every day, but not every student gets one every day.  One of my goals with using brag tags is to develop personal responsibility and conscientious decision making.  One way of doing this is to reward these efforts.  My personal belief is that if I gave myself a quota to fill, the rewards would not be authentic.

With this being said, there are certainly those students who have an easier time than others earning tags.  If I notice that a student is having difficulty earning tags, I work with them. We identify a behavior and set a goal.  Some kids need a bit more coaching and support than others.

Do you keep track of which tags you give your students?
Nope.  I like to use my brag tags for on the spot recognition and the idea of keeping a log where I track who gets which tag competes with my "in the moment" philosophy.  For me, keeping track of what I've passed out is just an extra step that would need to be managed.  A step that I know I would never be able to keep up with, because, well, that's me.  However, I do have friends who keep track of what they have passed out to their students.  Tracking works for them, it's part of their style and approach.  There's nothing right or wrong about it; it's all about preference and what works for you.  :)

Can a student earn the same tag more than one?
Sure!  If a students demonstrates the ability to follow directions more than once, it's OK to recognize that effort more than once. If you're worried about giving students duplicates of the same exact tag, don't.  The kids truly do not care. They love adding to their collection no matter what.  I like to keep lots of "general" brag tags on hand that can be used to recognize a variety of behaviors, like the ones below.  These types of tags could be used to recognize students who follow directions, get started right away, work quietly without disrupting others, etc.


Do your students earn any other rewards when earning a brag tag?
For me, the brag tag is the reward.  This has always been enough for my students and makes it really easy for me to manage. However, if you wanted to tie brag tags to another reward system, that is entirely up to you.  Maybe that is something that your group of kids needs, maybe you like the idea of giving out extra rewards, or maybe it's something that your school encourages.  This is definitely an option that boils down to personal preference and management style.

Do you award the brag tags to individual students or to the whole group?
Most of the time, I award brag tags to individual students.  My belief is that this helps to encourage personal responsibility and sound decision making.  I also think it has more impact on the students.  But, there have been a few times where I have given an entire table group a brag tag for working exceptionally well compared to the rest of the class.  And, last year on our Field Day, I gave each student a brag tag to recognize their positive attitudes. No one fought, no one argued, they were encouraging, they were just plain awesome that day and they all deserved recognition for it.

If you have a question that wasn't addressed in this post, leave it in the comments below.  :)

I truly hope that you have found this post to be helpful.  I have a few other blog posts that might interest you as well:
Bragging About Brag Tags
Brag Tags {Tips and Tricks}

Ready to give brag tags a try?  Here's a little freebie to get you started. And, if you're a brag tag veteran, a new design to add to your collection.  :)  This free download includes a color and black/white version. Click HERE to grab your freebie.


Looking for more brag tags?  Head on over to my TPT store and grab yours today!
Full Color Brag Tags
Black & White Brag Tags
Brag Tags Freebie

DON'T FORGET IT, PIN IT!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon and the HP Instant Ink Program. By purchasing an item either site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.


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13 comments:

  1. So helpful! I use the clip chart and was curious as to how to tie them together...thank you!

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  2. So helpful! I use the clip chart and was curious as to how to tie them together...thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you found the post to be helpful, Jennifer! Thank you for stopping by!

      Aimee

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  3. Hi there! How many brag tags would you say each child earns (roughly) per year?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kahla,

      It really depends on how you choose to manage them (pass them out on the spot, once a week, etc). As mentioned in the post, I do pass mine out in the moment for on the spot recognition, so some students do earn more than others. With that said, they all end up with an impressive collection. I'd guesstimate that each student ends up with at least a minimum of 20-25 tags. Thanks for stopping by today!

      Aimee

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  4. Do they cash them in or do you create all new tags each year?

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    Replies
    1. As described in the post above, the students get to keep their brag tags and take them home at the end of the year. There is no cashing in their brag tags. Each summer, and throughout the school year, I replenish/add to my supply as needed. :)

      Delete
  5. Hi!! Where can I find the dinosaur brag tags? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Simply click on the link in the post (look for the blue word in the text above the image of the dino brag tags) to grab the freebie. :)

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  6. Thanks so much! I have a special student that really needs them for his brag tag collection only. He's going to be excited! thanks so much.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you'll be able to use it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Aimee

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  7. I'm so excited to start up these brag tags on the first day back after break!
    On the days that the students get to wear their brag tags, do you allow them to be worn to lunch, specials, and recess?

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    Replies
    1. I'm so excited for you! I hope your students love their brag tags. I have my students remove their necklaces when they go to lunch and specials. I don't want them being a distraction in another teacher's classroom, and I know they would be sad if something happened to their necklace at recess. It really boils down to preference/tolerance, though. One of the reasons that brag tags are so great is that you can easily use them to match your teaching style and preferences. Best of luck!

      Aimee

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