Classroom Management can be very difficult. Every teacher has a different style and every group of students is different. Clip charts and changing colors are common with younger grades, but sometimes finding the right approach for 4-6 graders can be difficult. I have seen teachers use tickets or stickers. Usually, there are consequences for negative behaviors and rewards for positive behaviors. I think most of us would agree that as teachers we want students to be intrinsically motivated to choose the right behaviors. However, sometimes the extrinsic motivations can help get students get started in the right direction. When they feel good for making the right choices, they can begin to build intrinsic motivation.
I would really like to read Conscious Discipline. From Heather's comments, it sounds really good. I think focusing on the positive helps to build the right sort of classroom community. Some approaches I have tried in the past for for classroom management have been tickets to earn different types of passes and stickers to use in a classroom store. I have seen students be motivated by grades or getting in trouble, and I have seen others only be motivated to earn candy.
Last summer, I decided I wanted to try something different. Two years ago, I had an extremely difficult class, and I think I did not handle classroom management as well as I would have liked. I decided I wanted to create something that might appeal to even some of those difficult boys I had the year before. I knew a lot of them played video games, so I wanted to create a classroom management system that functioned with a video game mentality.
Now, as a gamer wife I can tell you hard-core gamers are motivated by the achievements. The drive comes from "I conquered it all and I was the best." They play with perfection, commitment, and immense drive and loyalty. So I created a classroom management system based on achievements. Students are put into teams (squads) and students earn points throughout the week for behavior, grades, and being responsible. Students' individual points are added up to create team scores. I then divided the teams in half so there were sides. In a game, there is almost always two sides - the good and the bad. I created a behavior chart to track the points. I called my classroom management plan the "Student Scoring System."
Now to decide who my two sides were I struggled. I decorated with an ocean/beach them, so I decided to do pirates versus navy. I did some research and found some clipart online and made these personas and descriptions to display in my room. I cut them out, glued them to card stock, and laminated them. (You can download a copy here.) I also made small pictures of just the "ranks" to display next to their avatars.