using hogwarts houses for behavior management

September 23, 2016

Whenever I watch the Harry Potter movies or read the books, I admire the house points system. It's genius for behavior management! A competition between groups based on points earned and removed puts behavior in the context of teams and rewards. It's positive, and incentivizes participation. So, I thought about how I could bring this magical system to my classroom, and started using house points. Here's how I do it.

1. Split students into three to four groups. Right now, my seating chart best allows for three groups of students. I assigned a house to each section: Gryffindor, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. When a student asked me, "who is Ravenclaw?" I said, "I am Ravenclaw!" It was awesome.

2. Have a place to tally house points. I keep mine on my white board, with a space to tally daily points, and to note the collection of points for each house per hour. I like to have students tally points. They like it, too.

3. Give students opportunities to earn points. Some ideas are:
  • I start every day with a bell ringer in my freshmen classes. I have students write down the goal for the day, and then have a task for them to do right when class starts. It's often a sentence that needs to have its grammar corrected, or a discussion question. I ask for a new person volunteering information each rotation through the houses. (So, if I start with Gryffindor, I  will turn to the next closest group, and then the third group for a correct answer. When the question comes back around to Gryffindor, someone new needs to talk from the group.) It's good to start the hour with a couple point opportunities for each house. 
  • When you ask questions to the class, offer a house point for a correct answer.
  • If a student is especially helpful or thoughtful, give their house a point. 
  • When you play a game, have students play in their houses, and add points to the weekly total for their house. I love to do things like Family Feud, Jeopardy, and Kahoot; adding points from games to a weekly total is really easy.
4. Enforce your cellphone rules and other expectations with points. I particularly like to use points to regulate cell phones in class. If students see a student from another group on their phone, they can point it out, and the offending team will lose a point.

5. On Fridays tally the points towards the end of class, and give a prize to the house that won. You could offer candy, or extra credit. I prefer Jolly Ranchers as prizes. They don't contain nuts, or gelatin, which I find to be the most common dietary restrictions at my school. I am astounded by the amount of effort most of my freshmen will put in for the chance to win one Jolly Rancher at the end of the week.

How do you manage behavior in creative ways? Do you need clarification on my system?

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