Friday, July 29, 2016

Target Tags

I want to share something that I've been doing in my classroom for the past few years that has really made a difference in my students' engagement with, and understanding of, our learning targets...Target Tags! You may know them as Brag Tags, but I like the name Target Tags better, because it puts the emphasis on working towards academic or social targets. My district is big on teachers setting clear targets, communicating them with students, and having students self-assess where they are in their learning. Target Tags have been a HUGE help with this!
Since I began using Target Tags, my students have become more articulate about which targets they are doing well with, and which ones they still need to work on. And I absolutely love having them for parent conferences! We do student-led conferences in February, and part of what students share with their parents is their Target Tag collection. They are so proud of them!
My tags are different from most other sets out there, because 25 tags fit on a page, instead of 15-18 for most other Brag Tags. This means that one page of each tag will be enough for most classrooms. (My tags are 2 inches high by 1.5 inches wide.) 
My most popular set of Target Tags is my Genre Genius Challenge, (formerly known as the 40-Book Challenge). I wanted my students to read more books of different genres. As soon as I explained the challenge, my kids became so motivated to earn tags! They were reading more, and trying genres they had shied away from before. Some even discovered a love for a new genre...yay, happy teacher heart! For younger students who are mainly reading picture books, I have a 100 Book Challenge, which has the same tags for every 5 books read, but no genre tags, and easier recording sheets.
A target that many of my students struggled with was learning multiplication facts. I made multiplication Target Tags, (with and without timed tests) to recognize students' progress towards that goal. Again, my kids were all in, and I had students asking for extra practice pages of multiplication because they wanted to earn their tag on Friday, which is when we did timed tests. It's been awesome! I now have more students meeting their fact fluency targets than ever before!
My sister is a second grade teacher and she reports similar results with using Target Tags for addition and subtraction facts.
I knew I was on to something, so I decided to try Target Tags for homework, calling it Homework Club...another success! Students who pass in their homework every day all month earn that month's tag on the last day of the month. (I do allow everyone to forget once during the year without penalty, but after that, if they miss even one piece of homework, they do not earn the tag for that month.) At the end of the year, I award a Homework Hall of Fame tag for the students who passed in all their homework for the whole year. (There is also an Honorable Mention tag for students who only miss one month of Homework Club all year.)
 Along with academic targets, I also have Target Tags for social skills. My school follows the practices of Responsive Classroom, which believes that the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum. I love recognizing positive character qualities!
Based on feedback from buyers, I have made two editable sets of Target Tags. This way, teachers can customize the wording to be exactly what they need, whether it's to recognize meeting an academic target, or celebrate effort and improvement of a student who always does their best, but might not be at grade level. The same tag can be used multiple ways! My editable bundle is a great way to try Target Tags for the first time.
I pt my target tags on cardstock and laminate them, but it's not necessary to do both. One of the teachers on my team prints hers on regular paper, but she does laminate. Another teacher I know prints on cardstock, but doesn't laminate. Do what works for you...your kids will love them!

I display my Target Tags on 1.5 in. metal book rings, hanging on magnetic hooks on my chalkboard. My students each have a number that they write on all of their papers, so there is a round tag with each student number. I realized that the only picture I've taken of them hanging is from my first year, when I used ribbon. The book rings are definitely easier to use when you're adding new tags! Other teachers use ball chain necklaces, or even shower curtain rings from the Dollar Store! Most sets of Target Tags comes with a choice of at least 3 signs for display

This summer, I've had fun making holiday tags!
Elementary aged children are natural collectors. Target Tags take advantage of this and increase student motivation and engagement. My students consistently rate Target Tags as one of their favorite memories of 4th grade. You can see all of my target Tag sets at the following link, including a couple of freebies! Target Tags

Is there a theme of Target Tags that you'd like to see?


  1. I love the name Target Tag vs. Brag Tag - that's part of the reason I never have used them. I'm impressed with the success you've had, too!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Susan! Bragging has such a negative connotation. I'd rather keep the emphasis on targets!