A Class Money System August 04 2009
Over nine years of teaching, the class money system has been my favorite form of classroom management. A class money system is flexible, builds classroom community, and gives students personal responsibility. Class money can also be tied to completing work, bathroom privileges, and class jobs.
A class money system can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it, depending on the age of your students. Older students, from about 3rd grade on up, are able to use a Check Register kind of system. A simple table with four columns would work great: a column for the date, the reason for the transaction, credit or debit, and the balance.
Reason for Transaction
I bought two-pocket folders with prongs, one for each student, and put a check register in each folder. Then each student was able to decorate the folder, making the check register their own. Also, I made several copies of these registers and had them accessible for kids later in the year.
For younger students, printed paper money would work better than the registers used for older students. One colleague of mine had a special envelope for each child taped to his or her desk that contained play money in $1 and $5 bills, which reinforced counting, adding and subtracting skills without having to mess with a register.
Granted, there will be an investment of time in order to train kids in your classroom how to use the registers or the play money. In the long run, however, I’ve found that it saves time and potential future headaches, especially when it comes to management issues.
One of my first tasks of the school year has been to assign class jobs. Older students filled out applications while younger students rotated through the different jobs each week. Some examples of class jobs are detailed below.
At the beginning of each month, each student got a paycheck, the amount depending on age level; for example, I’ve used $100 at the fourth grade level and $500 at the fifth grade level. For younger students, ten $1 bills of play money may be sufficient.
Rewards and Fines
One of the first ways to build classroom community in September was to figure out how that money could be spent, mostly through Rewards and Fines. I had already decided that leaving class to use the bathroom would be a fine, and we decided on the amount as a class. Then, as a whole group, we decided on what other behaviors could be rewarded or fined and the corresponding amounts. Then I wrote it on a piece of poster paper so that it was clearly displayed.
The ultimate reward was the Class Auction, held on the last school day each month. Families donated new or gently used items for the Auction Box, and students could bid on presented items during the Auction. In order to participate in the Class Auction, each student’s register had to be up to date, the amounts correctly added and subtracted, a year-long lesson in accuracy. Students also learned what it meant to save up for something important.
The real-life lessons concerning management and money made the Class Money system my most important classroom management tool.
- Mayor(s)- One or two qualified students perform many administrative and management tasks, such as class parties, class meetings, and decisions. If there’s a conflict over Rewards or Fines or changes need to be made to the original agreement, Mayor(s) facilitate the discussion.
- Librarian – Maintains the class library. Creates and maintains a check out system.
- Art Director – Manages art supplies. Gathers, distributes and collects art supplies for lessons.
- Science Director – Manages science supplies. Gathers, distributes and collects experiment supplies for lessons.
- Computer Monitor – Manages computer equipment as well as energy use during the day.
- Banker(s) – Many are needed, approximately one per group. Helps manage students’ registers, checking to see registers are updated each Friday and figures are correctly added and subtracted.
- Mediator – Manages low-intensity conflicts. Helps students talk about problems they have with one another. Usually requires teacher training and involvement.