Brag tags have become super popular in the last couple of years. If you aren't already using them, I'm sure you know teachers who are or have seen them all over the internet. That's because they ARE very cute and the kids really do love them! So what's the problem?
I'll tell you the problem... how to manage using them.
When do you give them out? End of the day, the month, as soon as a student earns one?
Where do the students keep them?
What if one gets lost? Do you give them another?
How much color ink are these things going to use up?
Here is how I have solved each of these sticky little situations...
WHEN DO YOU GIVE THEM OUT?
I have tried giving out brags tags when students earn them because shouldn't positive reinforcement happen as close to the behavior as possible? Yes, but it also shouldn't interrupt the flow of learning. What I've started doing is having a mini brag-tag awards ceremony on Friday afternoons.
Now "ceremony" is a strong word. There's really no ceremony about it. The kids sit on the rug. I sit in my blue chair and hand out the tags that were earned that week. I keep a clip board on my desk and just jot down whenever someone earns a tag. So on Fridays, it's super simple. I just grab my list and pull the tags I need out of the pocket chart where I keep them.
WHERE DO THE STUDENTS KEEP THEM?
Ok, before I get to this, let me explain where I keep my brag tags before I give them out. I have a pocket chart with double pockets... meaning the individual pockets have small clear pockets on the front, typically for student names. It looks like this...
I put one of each brag tag in the front clear pockets so the students and I can see them, and the rest go behind in the main pockets.
This is an incredibly easy way to store my brag tags! I don't have to dig through a box to find the one I need and I can easily refill them when they get low.
This pocket chart that I have is made by Carson-Dellosa. You can get one on amazon for about $14.
It's such an easy system! I'll never go back to keeping my tags in a box again.
Now, to answer the question of where students keep their tags. The first year I used brag tags, I gave each student a little lanyard to keep them on. This seemed like a great idea but I ran into some problems:
They were constantly playing with them.
The kids couldn't unhook them to put the tags on themselves, so I ended up with a line of kids needing me to do it.
The first few kids who took theirs home to show their parents ended up losing their lanyard and tags.
So the next year, instead of letting them keep their lanyard, I put hooks across a bulletin board for them to hang on. Each hook was labeled with the student's name. It looked cute but it took up valuable wall space and it didn't solve problems #2 and #3.
That's when I came up with what is possibly the most brilliant idea ever (ok, slight overstatement there). This is what I call the Brag Tag Gallery.
It's simply a 9-pocket page protector (like people use for baseball cards). You can fit 9 more cards on the back side, so it actually holds 18.
I put one of these pages in each of my students' daily take-home binders. This gives them a safe place to keep their tags that they can take home to show parents. The cards don't fall out, don't get lost or dirty, and most of all, aren't a distraction during instructional time. This system has saved me so much time! The kids can put their tags in themselves and it only takes a few minutes.
I ordered my sleeves from amazon (love amazon) for $6 with free shipping. But you can get them at Walmart, Target, etc. too.
HOW MUCH INK DO THESE THINGS USE?
Confession time... I purposefully pared down the number of brag tags I use in order to save on ink and printing costs. The truth is brag tags are colorful and printing them uses a lot of ink. You want them look exciting though. Who wants to earn a boring old black and white tag printed on plain white paper? Not much of an incentive there.
So I really thought hard about what tags I wanted to use and created a set of just those and no more. I had already purchased several sets from TpT, but then realized I just wasn't going to keep up with 30 or 40 different tags. And the cost to print that many different designs... wow, shocking!
Plus, if you're handing out tags for every little thing, they kind of lose their specialness. I wanted my students to feel like it's a really big deal when they earn one!
To keep costs down, I use just 18 different tags that include both academic and behavior recognition. Since the students keep them in page protectors, they can be printed on regular copy paper instead of card stock. I usually send them off to Office Depot for printing and use a coupon code (You can find goods ones on retailmenot.com all the time) with free in-store pickup.
I really love using brag tags! By combining goal-setting and positive rewards, they really are a great incentive system for the classroom. If you've been hesitant to try brag tags because you weren't sure how to manage them, I hope these ideas have been helpful.
This set of brag tags just for third graders is available in my store. These are the tags I use with my own class.