Friday, January 30, 2015

Gotta Go Passes

The restroom.  Two words that cause so much strife in a teacher's life. Teachers use signals, tokens, sign-out sheets, passes and you-name-it.  Kids still want to go to the restroom ALL THE TIME.  

For years, I used a sign-out sheet- which worked fairly well...for most students. Of course, you'll always have those who want to go all the time.  It's fairly easy to keep track of restroom usage when students are with you all day in a self-contained classroom.

Last year, I taught in a self-contained classroom, but tried something different- the "Gotta Go" pass.  I gave students five passes for the week.  They put their name on them and dropped them in a basket when they needed to use the restroom. This worked out really well!  It was easy to keep track of and only a few students ran out of passes or lost them.  In that case, I charged them "tickets" for replacements.  I also rewarded students who had unused passes at the end of the week.  Students received a certain number of tickets for each unused pass which they could use during a classroom auction.

This year, I'm teaching only one 5th grade subject and I have four rotations of students coming and going throughout the day.  I naively tried the sign-out system at first.  THEN, after some "teacher talk" at lunch, I discovered (more like WE discovered) that some students were going to the restroom in every single rotation.  That's FOUR times a day.  Really?  I mean, I really only get to use the restroom at plan and lunch, and sometimes that's a stretch.  Plus, students were using valuable instructional time using the restroom too frequently.

So, back to the "Gotta Go" passes we went.

The Gotta Go Passes are easy to make.  Just create the design you want, copy on colored card stock and cut them out.  I was able to put 10 passes on each sheet.  I would suggest using a different color of card stock for each teacher so it's easy to sort out each week.

 Here are the guidelines:

  1. Everyone gets five passes.  It is the student's responsibility to keep track of them.  They put their name and homeroom teacher's name on each pass.  They can keep them in their backpack or binder, or wherever else they'd like.
  2. When a student needs to use the restroom, they must ask permission, then hand the pass to the teacher.  Some teachers have a basket or box to keep them in.
  3. Students have some "FREE" restroom time when passes are not required. They may use the restroom before the first hour rotation begins, at lunch, or after school without using a pass.  
  4. If a student has a medical issue, then that is taken into consideration and passes may be increased for that individual due to the circumstances.
  5. If a student runs out of  Gotta Go passes, then they're charged a certain number of tickets.  I usually make this a high number to deter from using so many passes during the week.
  6. On Friday afternoon, passes are sorted by homeroom and redistributed to students to begin a new week with five passes.
So far, it has worked well.  Most students are using their restroom passes wisely and are ready to go when lessons begin.  

The Traveling Trophy!  The class that collects the most passes gets the prize!
Or you could reverse it and the class who collects the least passes gets the prize!

Check out my teacher friend's blog Upper Elementary Fun to see how she uses Gotta Go Passes! (She's got some other awesome ideas, too!) There are so many great ideas and resources out there.  What works in your classroom? Comment and share your ideas!-Karen

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