The House System was one of the many strategies I observed at the Ron Clark Academy and immediately knew I wanted to implement it in my classroom. The system encouraged friendly competitions, school spirit, and a comradery that was built as students strived to help each other succeed. To create this system, I collaborated with Emily Blackmon and Vanessa Menhennett, who also teach in the English department at SHS.
Each of the four houses has a name, color, and symbol which we tailored to fit our school colors (green and gold) and mascot (the bulldog). Inspired by the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling, our houses, Diligence, Optimism, Generosity, Sincerity, spell the word DOGS because we are the Suwannee Bulldogs. My colleague continued with this theme and decided to nickname the school DOGWARTS, a take on HOGWARTS in the Harry Potter Series.
Once we created the names and images for the different houses, we decided to purchase beaded necklaces in the four colors (black, yellow, green, and grey) to split the students into the different houses. During a selection ceremony, students drew a set of beads out of a hat, determining their house. For example, if a student drew green beads, he or she would be placed in the House of Generosity. The houses are mixed with students from grades 9-12. We sorted about 900 students in one day!
Students began competing daily to win the House Championship and with teacher encouragement, we immediately saw a difference in classroom culture. Students earned points for attendance, completion of assignments, hard work, being on task, engagement, positive behaviors, teamwork, and house spirit. We try to integrate the House System into existing SHS traditions like spirit Fridays. Students receive points for house spirit by wearing their house color, which is also a school color. Class Dojo made keeping track of daily points a breeze. Teachers login to Class Dojo and award points as needed, and the beaded necklaces students wear help teachers award points to the correct house.
Students are enjoying the competition, and it is increasing motivation in many students. Teachers are enjoying it too! We hope to make this even bigger and better next year.
For more information on creating a house system, check out the many resources on the Ron Clark Academy App.
Elisa Hall, Suwannee High School