Q&A: Whole Brain Teaching & The Clip Chart

Jason, a 2nd grade teacher, sent me this question about these two systems and how they worked together in my class:
I have a question since you are using both the clip chart and Whole Brain Teaching.  How are you able to incorporate the two together?  I have been using the clip chart, but was considering using Whole Brain Teaching as well.  I just didn't know when they would clip down for not following the 5 Rules.  I was trying to figure out if they clipped down if they didn't follow the rules every time or after having several class reminders and still not following them. Thanks for any guidance you can give.
As many of you know, I LOVE Whole Brain Teaching and what it has done for me, my students, and the feel of my classroom. As Chris Biffle says, it has put me in "Teacher Heaven."

I am also currently loving Rick Morris' Clip Chart and the positive slant it has put on the traditional green light-yellow light-red light discipline procedure. You can read more details about my Clip Chart HERE.

I tend to use WBT for the entire class to get their attention and especially during minilesson time. WBT is most effective for me in the Meeting Area, where I can teach, kids can practice, and then we come back together and give ourselves points on our scoreboard for doing everything right.

We practice the class rules first thing in the morning everyday and I refer back to them quite a bit during our lessons. For example, I sometimes say we need to focus on Rule #2 (Follow directions quickly) so we can get to the meeting area right away.... things like that. I also use "Class-Yes" and "Hands and Eyes" when we need to focus on Rule #1 (Listen when your teacher is talking).

When I notice kids not giving me their attention during this time, I give us a frownie on the scoreboard and ask if we can try it again, to which I give a smiley when they get it right. This works for most of the students, but occasionally there are the one or two that still don't give me their attention. Instead of continuing to give the class frownies for the actions of one or two, I will generally have that student clip down during our next movement time. This way, he/she is not missing any instruction time by getting up to leave the meeting area and is also not drawing any additional attention to themselves. We are only in the meeting area for a few minutes, so the extra wait time is not long at all.

I will have kids clip down and back up often throughout the day. I find that it one of the biggest benefits of the Clip Chart- kids can mess up, but they can fix their mistake and are able to clip up again during the day. Therefore, I don't have to give kids many reminders because if they are clipping down, it is not a permanent placement (hopefully!) for the rest of the day.
*I always remind my class that a frownie on the scoreboard and a clip down is not the end of the world- in life, we make mistakes, we learn from them, and we do better next time. When we don't learn from our mistakes or we don't try to do better is when we start facing more consequences, like Teacher Choice or Parent Contact.

What I have found works very well is having kids clip up for being the great teachers during "teach-ok" or following Rule #2 by being the first ones ready to learn with their supplies on the rug, or by picking up a mess that wasn't theirs and following Rule #3. I will publicly state to the class that I saw x student following Rule #x and to please clip up. This strategy really works for inspiring the whole class, even those who may have had to clip down that day.

I find myself using the Clip Chart for independent, partner, or small group work. If students are working around the room, I will circulate and have them clip up if they are doing a great job and focusing. If I am working with a student in a small group and they are showing me tons of effort to get the problem solved, I will have them clip up when we are done.  If I need to get the entire class' attention I will switch to WBT and the scoreboard. Admittedly, there are quite a few systems at play, but I have found that they do not require a lot of teacher work {yay!} and they are very motivating for the kids to follow {double yay!}.

Overall, I would say my management strategy for the whole group is WBT, whereas my individual management system is the Clip Chart. Both work wonders and help kids feel success and have FUN during the day, so I really love this partnership and plan on using it for many years to come!

Thanks for the question!

Do any of you use both WBT and the Clip Chart? Do they look similar/different in your room? I would love to hear from you in the comments and continue to make my own practice better!

PS- Today is the LAST day to enter my Spring Break Giveaway for a $10 Starbucks Card! Click HERE to enter and good luck!


  1. Thank you so much for this post. Next year I will be a first year teacher and definitely want to have individual and whole class management systems. I love the clip chart. And am trying to figure out what to do for whole class. I love your description and how you make it work with the scoreboard. This is great!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I know I am late to this post, but you helped me "right" this in my brain! I have used the clip chart for the last 2 years and some WBT principles (class, yes/ 5 rules) all last year, but I had a hard time incorporating the scoreboard since the kids and I were used to using the clip chart. One of the things I hate about the clipchart is when the whole class is on task, I didn't want to stop the flow and have everyone clip up. Your solution is perfect for me!! Thank you. I look forward to using the scoreboard for whole group time and the clip chart for individuals!
    Kickin' it in Kinder


Thank you so much for your comments! :)

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