Friday, August 4, 2017

Creating a House System in my Fifth Grade Classroom #RCAinspired


*In September of 2016, I was lucky enough to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. If you haven’t heard of RCA, make sure you check out their website and videos; you’ll be INSPIRED to say the least. RCA holds professional development days where teachers from all over the country can come and watch their unique techniques and strategies for creating respectful, knowledgeable, and strong, young leaders. I attended a one-day workshop, and I left feeling excited, inspired, and motivated to make my classroom and teaching methods the best they could be.

*One component of RCA that really resonated with me was their house system. They sort their students into four different houses, and the students can earn points for various things. The pride and love these students (and teachers) have for their houses is unreal. I knew I needed to incorporate it into my own classroom as soon as possible. But how? When? I decided to wait until the following year, which is this year, to implement it. I struggled trying to decide how to manage this new system; What would they receive points for? Do I take points? Do I keep the houses the same all year? Should I be rewarding them monthly, quarterly? I didn’t know!... and I started to second guess my decision. Then I read The Engaging Station’s blog post, which you can find here. She confirmed just how awesome this system could work when you put enough time and thought into it!


*Students will be assigned to houses at random through the help of this handy-dandy wheel. 

Disclaimer: I painted it from turquoise to black, and I laminated a piece of blue over the orange to go with my colors. When I placed the magnetic wheel on my whiteboard, it slid straight down! However, when placed on my chalkboard, it stayed extremely secure!
*I printed my house shields, laminated them, and then taped them to my wheel insert. The names of my houses just came from Google translate. I typed in the four words I wanted my houses to represent, and I just had them translated to Latin. The wheel insert actually had three colors similar to my shields, but it also had an orange section. I simply took a piece of green paper and laminated it right on top to cover the orange! BOOM!...IT MATCHES. *insert karate chop*

*I'm going to be sorting students on the very first day...or the second day if I don't think there will be enough time. I'll first start off by explaining the system so they're all jacked up about it! They will then come up to the wheel and spin!
*Once a student spins a house, their Class Dojo icon will immediately be changed to their house icon. (Instructions for this will be included in my TpT file.) Class Dojo will be pulled up on the SmartBoard for all to see. A quick note about Class Dojo: I’ve used this behavior management system for the past two years and I LOVE it. Although it’s great for managing behavior, my favorite component of the site is that it allows you to easily connect with parents. You can send messages back and forth, and you can also share what’s going on in your classroom in a quick way. (The story option is very similar to Facebook’s format, and I use it all of the time to share reminders, pictures, and videos of our classroom happenings.
*I have twenty-four students this year, so I am limiting my houses to six students each. Once a house has six students in it, no other student will be allowed to enter that house. The student will just re-spin until they obtain an available house.


*When a student needs a point either given or taken from them, it will be done on Class Dojo. For example, let’s say Avery earned a point for demonstrating leadership. I would either award Avery the point myself, or have her quickly award herself using my iPad. It’s extremely quick and simple!
*The great thing about Dojo is that it allows you to place students in groups as well. This means that you can award your houses points directly to every student in that group without having to actually click each individual student. 

HOW IT WORKS- timeline, incentives, etc.

This is the part that I struggled with most, and I’ll be honest, I’m still thinking about it! Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m thinking:
*After students are placed into their houses, I will ask them to “run” house leader. They will write a letter explaining why they think they would be a great house leader. I will select one student from each house and reveal them at the end of the first week. Team leaders will meet with me every few weeks for lunch to discuss motivation, teamwork, and incentives they’d like to see.
*Points will be awarded throughout the week to individual students and groups.
*On Fridays (at the end of our class meeting), the team’s points will be revealed, and we’ll determine current totals and all-time totals. This will be laminated and we will updated the numbers with a dry-erase marker.
I think I’ll do a few different incentives for my students, monthly, quarterly, and year winner. I’m only thinking I need to do more than just a yearly winner because I want to keep it fresh and exciting. I also want all of the teams to have a chance to experience some success. These incentives will be decided on with the help of my team leaders, so the incentives below are just examples.
MONTH WINNER: Team with the most points gets one piece of gum. Gum is amazing and powerful, y’all. Plus, it’s cheap!
QUARTER WINNER: This will change out monthly! The first month, the team with the most points might get to have lunch with me. The next month, they might get a homework pass!
YEAR WINNER: Ice cream party!
*Choose incentives that work well for you and your students!


*Go above and beyond explaining your points to your kiddos. Give them examples! That first few weeks of school, you’ll probably be giving out the most points. You want your students feeling excited and motivated to be their absolute best. 
*These are things in my classroom that are non-negotiable. They’re expected to be respectful, on-task, tracking the speaker, etc. Think of what’s non-negotiable in your room.


*Either before or after class meeting (I haven’t decided yet), we’ll have a little spirit session where the houses will compete for extra points. I only plan on doing this at the end of each month, but you could absolutely do it weekly or quarterly.
*Each team will have something to show the class. Either a fun dance, rap, poem, handshake, etc. that represents their house. The entire house can present, or they can have different people every time. I’m going to leave it up to them. Some of my students are not into things like shaking it! I don’t want them to feel like they have to do that. The team with the best performance (they have to be EXTRA pumped, confident, excited, etc.), will have the chance to spin the wheel. The wheel will have points on it ranging from 5-50. Whatever they land on, will be what is added to their house.
*I will also use this as an opportunity to shoutout one or two students who have been doing an amazing job; students who have been preserving, working hard, being helpful, etc. Later on in the year, I might have the team leaders help me with this part.

It's going to be a learning process for sure, but I can't wait to get started! If you're interested in my shields and documents, click HERE!

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! :)



  1. Thank you! I've been trying to wrap my brain around this concept and you pointed me in the right direction.

  2. I love this idea!! I am trying to find your shields on your tpt but can't! Is it up yet?

  3. I also use a house system as well as dojo points. I run mine a little differently but am always looking for new ways to revamp it. This has given me some food for thought to incorporate into the way I already do things.

  4. I was planning to do something just like this!!! Thank you for giving me some awesome ideas!

  5. Love this idea! Any advice on how this could work with multiple grade levels? I'm going to be teaching 4-6 social studies. No idea how many students I will have yet.

    1. I think that would even be better!!! That's how it is at RCA...the kids are in all different classes, so in each class you have kids in each it creates unity across the grade level.

  6. This is so clever! Do the students change houses at all through the year? Or are they at the same table all year?

  7. Thank you for sharing all your marvelous ideas! I am pumped about the houses too!

  8. We have a house system between our school and the middle school across the street. We have 8 houses, 2400 kids. We also use Dojo, but just have the 8 houses as our students. When students earn points, it goes straight to their house, we don't track individual points. You can also share your class with other teachers to award points to students. They love it!

    1. I teach 7th grade math and will have 5 classes so I like your idea of not tracking individual points!

  9. Have been working on this idea all summer and so glad you put it all together for me! This is awesome!

  10. I think of it sort of like the sorting hat with Harry Potter.

  11. I am a hot mess! I am having no luck finding the editable shields. 😩 This is an amazing concept.! Over the summer I decided I wanted to utilize Class Dojo and this gives me some direction to begin! ☺️


  12. I love this idea! I am doing a Harry Potter theme classroom this year and this would fit perfectly. Do students stay in their house for the entire year?

  13. OMG! This system is amazing! This will be my first year teaching and when they told me I would do fifth grade the first thing that came to my mind was HOUSES! (I am a huge harry potter fan). I didn't want to do a harry potter theme though so I was concerned about how to do it, especially with it being my first year and trying to figure EVERYTHING else out. Thank you so much!

    I do have a question, would you use this (house points and dojo) as your only management system? I was planning on doing this and still have a financial system for individual rewards and extra motivation. But I am afraid it could get confusing would love to hear your thoughts!

  14. Hi! I purchased this immediately after seeing your post on instagram! Soo excited to try the house system with my first graders. I was wondering if it is possible at all to get the green shield you created recolored in orange to match the template that comes with the spinner? I saw an orange shield in the editable pack but it has a different design and I am wanting to use the house names you have set up but was thinking I could cut out the extra step of messing with the template for the spinner if there is any way to get the green shield just in orange with the writing and such on it. Thanks again for this amazing resource and blog post! :)

  15. I have a particularly challenging behavior problem. What ever group he is placed in will likely always struggle for points. How is this handled? Also if teams get too far apart in score, do they seem to give up? I want to troubleshoot before I get started. Thanks!

  16. I love all your ideas. I went to RCA in still marveling at that place. I want to do this but teach 2nd grade and have a very small class...don't know if the class across the hall would want to do this!!! You are AWESOME!!!

  17. Will this be paired with anything else? dojo dollars or anything like that...also, what are the consequences of poor behavior or low points (i.e. lose things, lunch detention etc) Thanks

  18. love love love this and purchased immediately. I was just curious if there is a way to change the colors of the shields?

  19. I'm doing this too! Well, my own kind of version. So excited!

  20. Do you keep Dojo points for the week, or do you erase them daily?

  21. You are a genius and this is exactly what I needed! I love following you and I cannot wait to make this happen!! Thank you for sharing your amazing ideas and making my classroom a better place with all of your amazing ideas!

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