How to Create Your PBIS Matrix (Free Template)

The PBIS matrix outlines specific expectations for students at different school locations and environments.
By 
Jordan Pruitt
 | 
May 25, 2022

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

A vital part of the PBIS process involves your staff teaching school-wide expectations. This process can look a number of different ways depending on your situation and preferences.

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

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The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

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About the Event

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

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About the Event

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

About the Presenter

Jordan resides in Lexington, Kentucky. He has experience in Public Education as an Administrator, Science Teacher, and as a Coach. He has extensive experience with School Discipline, PBIS, SEL, Restorative Practices, MTSS, and Trauma-Informed Care.

A vital part of the PBIS process involves your staff teaching school-wide expectations. This process can look a number of different ways depending on your situation and preferences.

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

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Learn more about the author, 
Jordan Pruitt
 

A vital part of the PBIS process involves your staff teaching school-wide expectations. This process can look a number of different ways depending on your situation and preferences.

The reason for doing this is to clearly communicate to students exactly what is expected of them wherever they may be or whatever they may be doing. 

Setting Expectations, Not Rules

By doing this, we will remove the loopholes we unintentionally create when we create a set of rules for our schools. For example, you want to bring some order to your hallway transitions. So you communicate clearly to all students in the building that running in the halls is absolutely not allowed. You might also add in the consequences associated with running in the hallways.

But in every school I have been in, you have what I would label as rule testers. Somewhere, sometime you will have a situation arise in which students test your no running in the hallways rule by crawling or hopping through your hallways. It is human nature; rules will be tested. 

Schools that utilize PBIS instead rely upon expectations to communicate the behaviors they want to see, instead of emphasizing those they do not wish to take place. A school utilizing PBIS could state the expectation is that students walk in the hallways of their school. 

Another common problem with creating rules is that rules tend to lead to more rules. You add a new rule to cover the situations that you didn’t originally think of, and then students test it again. Yet again, you’ll find yourself amending the rule book to maintain order. We see this happen often with laws: they need to be amended and added to very often to keep pace with the rule testers in the real world. By creating expectations, you clearly state what is acceptable without any need to define what is not.

The PBIS Matrix

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to disruptive behavior in your building. PBIS Tiers designed to differentiate between the level of PBIS interventions your students need. 

Tier 1 is given to all students. In this tier, we are teaching school-wide expectations, and establishing a team that will lead the charge in setting expectations, teaching them, progress monitoring, and planning rewards for your students who meet those goals. This is where the PBIS best practices and the Matrix comes into play. 

Creating Your PBIS Matrix

The PBIS matrix is a living document that outlines specific expectations for different school locations and environments. For example, the PBIS matrix states how students are expected to behave in the hallway versus the classroom versus the playground. Here’s how to create yours.

Step 1: Set school-wide expectations.

In the first tier, you will create a team whose focus should begin with determining your school-wide expectations. The best practice is to keep these brief and broad so they can be recalled easily by staff and students alike while also being applicable to all situations in your school. 

For example, my school uses 3 expectations building-wide:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Responsible

They are easy to remember and easy to translate across all situations. 

Step 2: Identify expectations by location.

The next step in the PBIS process is to narrow down what the expectations mean by the locations and situations your students will have to navigate to achieve success in your building. 

Think about the places your students need to navigate in your building. What is acceptable and necessary for them there? 

In my school our students need to know the expectations in the following areas: Cafe, Hallway, Restroom, Assemblies, Bus, and Classroom Setting. 

You’ll also find that it's helpful to teach students how those areas may change during the flow of your school’s schedule. For instance; your arrival procedures may be different than your dismissal procedures. Or the Cafe could be set up differently for breakfast than lunch. And a school play and a school pep rally may have a different set of expectations. 

In my school, we also found that our return to in-person instruction post-COVID shutdowns required a full overhaul of our PBIS Behavior Matrix. And that is OK! 

Your matrix should be a living document that is updated and revised as your school’s needs change. See below for an example template you can utilize in your school.

Example PBIS Matrix

When creating the matrix, your team needs to determine the ideal behaviors in the areas you have chosen as necessary to teach. For instance, in my High School setting, we utilize a picture ID Badge as a safety measure for all students and staff in the building. So under each column we would have “badge is visible” located in the “Be Safe” row. 

Another example for my school would be to include some level of cleanliness in each column beside the “Be Responsible” row. Under Cafe, this would include what we expect students to do with trays and trash when they exit for instance. The best practice is to keep each cell in the matrix to 3 or fewer bullet point expectations. 

pbis matrix

Once your team has completed the Matrix, the heavy lifting of the initial PBIS rollout is done. Your matrix can now be used to create area-specific signage. For instance, we have a poster in every hallway with exactly what it means to Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Safe in the hallway. Same for the other areas we chose. 

You’ll also utilize the Matrix to create your initial lesson plans that are used building-wide to teach every single student what is expected in your school. My advice would be to break this up by area over several days to ensure all areas are covered and you get the maximum level of engagement. 

One final note, in the last column concerning “Classroom,” I suggest making each teacher in your building a poster with your school-wide expectations and a blank column for their classroom expectations. Laminate the poster and allow teachers to fill in what each expectation means in their classroom. 

This provides consistency with your students and it allows for autonomy/creativity for the teacher in the room. This is huge for buy-in and fidelity, which is what will determine how successful any positive behavior support program you roll out will be. If you're working with younger students you try our guide to PBIS in Elementary Schools. Or if your new to behavior support programs you should also take a look at our resources on how to build your own PBIS Store or how to start your PBIS program.

For best results you can create a cohort of peers to bounce ideas off of and improve your program by taking PBIS district-wide.

Looking for a place to start your school culture journey? Check out our free PBIS template where you can download a sample to get started.

To learn what other educators are saying take a look at our PBIS reviews.

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Bonfire
Grades 9-12
Class/House
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Student Spotlight Board
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Class Book
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
School Dance
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Serenade
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Stickers
Grades K-5
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Spirit Day
Grades K-12
School
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Loudspeaker Shoutout
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Decades Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Family Feast
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Design the Bulletin Board
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY

All Reward Ideas for Elementary School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
School Assembly
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Podcast
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Social Media Reporter
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Design the Bulletin Board
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Career Day
Grades 3-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Pie a Teacher
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Read Across America
Grades K-8
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Reading Time
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Game of Thrones
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Delivery
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Board Game Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Dress Up or Down Day
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Firebird of the Month
Grades K-12
Student
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Trunk or Treat
Grades K-8
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Free Dress
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Event Ideas for Schools

💰
🎨
School Dance
💰
🎨
Silent Disco
💰
🎨
Theme Party
💰
🎨
Meet the Teacher
💰
🎨
Art Contest
💰
🎨
Camp Read Away
💰
🎨
Movie Night
💰
🎨
Meme Party
💰
🎨
Glow Party
💰
🎨
Fake The Funk

All Free Reward Ideas for Schools

All Reward Ideas for High School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
Be a Comedian.
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
♟️Chess With the Principal
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Fake The Funk
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Silent Disco
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Snack Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Create the Seating Chart
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Classroom Carousel
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Awards Show Afterparty
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Emcee the Announcements
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Design the Bulletin Board
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Sports Tickets
Grades 3-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
House Induction
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Water Bottle Stickers
Grades 6-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Kickback Vibes
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY

All Reward Ideas for Middle School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Computer Games
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Glow Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Gift Cards
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Kickback Vibes
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Theme Party
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Family Feast
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Delivery
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
The Love Soiree
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Meet the Teacher
Grades K-8
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Dress Up or Down Day
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Play Games
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
School Assembly
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Emcee the Announcements
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Final Fridays
Grades K-8
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY

All Student Reward & Incentive Ideas

💰
🎨
Extra Recess
Grades K-5
Class/House
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Homework Pass
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Video Game Rewards
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Partner Work
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Class Jobs
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
School Spirit Day
Grades K-12
School
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
TikTok with the Teacher
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Lunch Reservations
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Virtual Field Trip
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Assist the Custodian.
Grades 6-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Stickers
Grades K-5
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
School Supplies & Merch
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
💰
🎨
Social Media Reporter
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Silly Science Experiments
Grades K-5
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Virtual Reward Ideas for Schools

🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Digital Escape Rooms
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Privilege
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Podcast
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Stickers
Grades K-5
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Talent Show. 🎤
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Morning Meeting Leader
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Show & Tell
Grades K-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Student Spotlight Board
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Field Trip
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Donate $1
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Computer Games
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
See all Rewards

Want more ideas?

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Learn more about the author, 
Jordan Pruitt
 

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