Thursday, March 31, 2016

Relative Deprivation: Student Examples

By Mark Heintz

Over the summer, I read David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the things that struck me was the concept of relative deprivation. Relative deprivation is when people compare themselves to others and feel they are inferior based on other's ability. I see this clearly in coaching running. Many students will not even come out to the sport because they can very visibly compare their mile time to other students. They do not see they can improve and therefore, do not come out for the sport.
I then read an article about using student work and examples to help students achieve.  You can read the overview of the article here.  The article contends that using only exemplary student examples can lead to very negative consequences.  I believe the student examples I have used led to negative consequences.  At first, I felt I was a good teacher because I used students examples.  I showed low, mid, and high examples.  However, I spent most of the time on the best examples.  I feel and students love to see what a 100% looks like.
The problem with the A, the best, and the 100%, is it is unrealistic.  One of the classes I teach is AP World.  The highest score a student can get on an essay is a nine.  I have been to the AP reading and I graded somewhere around one-thousand essays.  I graded only one nine. One nine out of a thousand.  Furthermore, a student can get a five out of nine on the essays and still be on their way to getting the highest score on the AP exam.  

It is hard to be perfect.  I think it is harder to show kids an essay at their ability that is below the best and be okay with it. Sometimes it feels we are lowering the bar.  Last year in AP, I showed more of the five out of nine essays and my scores went up.  Kids were not confused or looking at an unobtainable writing sample.  

One of the best changes the Human Geography PLT made this semester was norming the average writing.  It took time and discussions about what we thought the average student's writing should be. We started with the average and worked up.  The result is being able to show more student samples at the average level. The process helped me guide students to better writing and meet them where they are. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Using Powerpoint or Keynote to make make content more interactive

by Kirsten Fletcher

Digitizing your curriculum doesn't have to take enormous chunks of time. Here is a quick trick to allow students to interact with content at their own pace.

I used to do a lot of PowerPoint presentations. Sometimes I would use them to present new vocab. Sometimes I would pull out white boards and have students conjugate the verbs they saw on the screen before the answer popped up.

Then I got iPads and felt like I had to convert everything. I ditched the PowerPoints for Nearpod presentations where students could write on the slides. However, students sometimes found this cumbersome. Lately, I've discovered that I can take the same PowerPoints I've always used and simply put them in the hands of the students. This way, there is minimal prep on my end and students get instant feedback during activities. Also, once they download the presentation, they don't need wi-fi to work on it. Here's what it looks like:
  • Students download either the free Powerpoint app or the free Keynote app
  • Post your Powerpoint presentation as a file in your LMS (Schoology, Canvas, etc)
  • Students open the presentation in the app, tap on the pencil icon, and write directly onto your presentation. 
  • If students use the Powerpoint or Keynote app in presentation mode, the information will pop up in order. I like to have them write an answer to a problem, then swipe to see the correct answer and/or explanation on the same slide.
Here are some samples of my students' work:
Slide with student writing. Note the "pen" selected at the top of the screen.

The same slide after student clicked to see the answer.

Another possible use of the PowerPoint app might be to annotate an existing presentation. This is one that I shared with students. I asked them to find and correct errors in the writing. I also annotated my own copy so I could project an answer key. (Notice the drawing tools at the top of the page.)
I had students correct this writing sample in PowerPoint.
I then created a key so they could check their work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Editing Lifesaver: Skitch!

By: Rachel Barry

Need to quickly edit a picture or diagram AND want it to look professional?  Skitch is your answer!  I have used Skitch throughout my entire teaching experience, and I still can't believe how quick and easy it is to create or edit images.

I first started using Skitch when we were creating our own digital curricula in the Math Department six years ago.  You can read more about our curricula here.  Following our creation, we have been doing a lot of editing of our materials.  That problem didn't work out to a "nice" answer?  The diagram doesn't provide students with enough information?  The picture provides students with too much information to be the level of difficulty for that class?  Use Skitch!  

Here is an example of how to edit a diagram in Skitch.  Let's start with an image of a rectangle and triangle, created from Autoshapes in Microsoft Word.

This video explains some of the features of Skitch:

I also use Skitch to create warm-ups, exit slips, and other supplemental materials for class.  This application allows me to create numerous variations of the same diagram, or quickly edit an already existing picture.  Here is an example of an edited diagram:


**Throughout my Skitch experience, I have only used the laptop version, however, there is also an iPad version.  I played around with it prior to writing this blog post, and I find it to be just as user friendly.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick & Easy Self-Reflection & Goal-Setting

By: Rachel Barry

Don't have time in class to dedicate to self-reflection or to set goals with your students?  That's how I felt this week.  We just took a unit test, which I usually like to have a more extensive reflection on their progress, however, with Spring Break coming up, time was a bit tight this week.  I did wanted to provide students with an outlet to reflect on their accomplishments and to set goals to achieve once they come back, so I created a quick warm-up to accomplish some level of reflection and set a goal.  

For this warm-up, I handed out grade reports to students.  On the grade report, I highlighted any missing assignments or assessments.  For some reason, getting a paper copy seems to bring about a different level of significance than just looking at the app on their iPad.   Students took note of any assignments they should be working on over break, as well as which assessments they should take before Spring Break starts.  

Then, I had students write down two things:  
1)  What is one thing you are proud of throughout Unit 6?
2)  What is one goal you have for Unit 7?

Here are a couple of student examples:

This whole process took about 5-7 minutes, which is the normal length of warm-ups in my class, and we were still able to keep with the rest of the lesson planned for class.  Later during the period when students were working in their groups, I walked around reading their responses.  I talked to each student: acknowledging that I was also proud of their accomplishments, encouraging the students who just started going to Saturday School to continue to do so in the future, and nullifying any negative comments that students wrote on their sheets.  I also was able to reiterate students goals for Unit 7, and encourage some students to reach a bit higher in their goal setting.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Collaboration and Professional Learning Between Districts

By Anna Izzo

Earlier this year I attended the annual Midwest AATI (American Association of Teachers of Italian) conference at Ridgewood High School in Norridge.  Italian teachers aren’t too common, so after five years I’ve gotten to know just about everyone in the area.  This year, however, I met Allyson Feierberg who started the Italian program on her own at Glenbard North two years ago.  While she was born in Chicago, her mom grew up in Milan and spoke solely Italian at home.  We immediately clicked at the conference; we had a lot in common and had a blast discussing our favorite Italianisms.  We kept in touch as the year went on through email and text asking each other’s advice on a lesson or sharing new materials.  We met after school at Elios Pizzeria in Addison several times for some authentic pizza Napolitana- sacrifices, right?

Last Friday Glenbard North had an institute day, so we wrote up a brief itinerary of what we’d like to accomplish for a professional day.  Both schools fully supported our collaboration despite different districts.  Finding relatable materials and new resources is half the battle, and I’ve always struggled being a one-person team at EG. 

Next year will be Allyson’s first year teaching Italian 3, so we decided to start our day working on that curriculum.  I encouraged her to incorporate a Pinocchio unit, which we then created reading guides for the first four chapters.  I have found making the time for a reader or two, such as Pinocchio, has helped students piece together the foundation of the language they have been learning the past couple years, and allows them to see everything in context.  Typically after Pinocchio, I can really see how well the students can comprehend and use the language up to this point in their studies.

The rest of the day at Glenbard was spent finding and even writing reading samples with comprehension questions, and searching for new listening practice.  We also shared some cultural activities we had both made.  Both Allyson and I were so relieved to have had an entire day to collaborate with someone and to accomplish so much. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Evolution of the Bio Curriculum

Written by Quinn Loch

The bio team, like most teams at EG, has been reworking its curriculum since I joined it three years ago. The largest changes have been with our learning targets and our grading practices. We are always trying to figure out both what we want students to master and what that mastery looks like.

We recently worked together during a pull-out day and examined our curriculum on a more global scale. Our collaboration led to great questions and conversations. For example, why do we have a "scientific method" unit? Doesn't this unit include the skills that should be developed throughout the year and not just in small doses? Isn't our course supposed to be a year long investigation into the process of science that is just driven by principles in biology? How often should we be assessing skills related to experimental design and analysis? What are these skills? How often do we have labs where we practice these skills and how are we providing feedback on them? Should large themes like change over time (evolution) be taught independently or weaved throughout the year as an important overarching reality of the world around us?

It was great to have this open dialogue and it really helps reset our priorities in a science classroom. We spent the beginning of the day agreeing to eliminate our independently taught scientific method unit. Instead, we would use our standards based rubric that we developed as a way to constantly assess on science skills throughout the year.
By using this rubric, students can track their progress throughout the year on important lab skills like procedure writing, graph making, and conclusion writing. This rubric format was modeled off of what Kim Miklusak and the English team use for writing.
On top of re-evaluating skills in the classroom, we re-worked our content for the year as well. This included re-writing learning targets so that they are more student friendly and re-structuring so that large themes like evolution, energy/matter flow, and interdependence are interwoven throughout the year.
What part of our brainstorm looked like in the Collab Lab.
The biggest challenge still, in my opinion, is how to connect progress and student mastery in the grade book. This is what I consider to be one of the biggest "growing pains" of our transition to standards based grading in biology. As a team, we are on the same page as to our targets and what mastery should look like, but are our students? How are we weighting formative and summative assessments in the grade book? How can we make a student's progress throughout the year clear and understandable? What's the best way to communicate this?

Finding solutions to these challenges is the next step and will help make reassessment more efficient and hopefully increase student ownership.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Collab Lab Happenings! A typical week of teacher-led professional learning at EG

Written by Linda Ashida

In case you haven't been to the Collab Lab lately, or kept up with recent Collab Blog posts, we thought we'd share some highlights of the many - and varied - professional learning activities that have happened in the Collab Lab during the last week. Read on to learn from, and be inspired by, our colleagues! 

Invitations to visit classes:  

We always enjoy when teachers invite us to their classes for us to see strategies in action and/or offer support.  In addition to the 16 class visits we enjoyed as part of our EG/BG Learning Exchange, we also were happy to have invitations from Eleanor Pattie and Joe Bush.

Eleanor invited us to her ELL classes to see open inquiry labs designed by her students. Check out her tweets @MrsPattieChem to learn more!

Joe invited us to join his students in a vision setting exercise. He challenged us to create a detailed plan of our preferred futures. Follow his tweets @josephdbush or his class hashtag #EGLTS to learn more. 

PLC Pull-Out Professional Learning Days

District PE teachers and Elk Grove Biology Teachers conducted professional learning meetings in the Collab Lab.  If you have a pull-out day scheduled with your PLC, we hope you will consider meeting in the Collab Lab.  Our ITF / DTC team enjoys learning with the teams, supporting any way we can, and facilitating interdisciplinary connections.  The Collab Lab whiteboard wall facilitates great team brainstorming and incubation of ideas!

Lesson Strategy Brainstorming Sessions:

Over the course of the last week quite a few teachers have stopped by or made appointments with us in the Collab Lab to brainstorm strategies for their classes.  We are always happy to support our colleagues and learn with them.  If you are inspired by the following examples, or have your own ideas to work through, we hope you'll contact us!

Andrea Izenstark (CTE): Social Curation Tools
Andrea is planning to engage her students in weekly Current Event Friday activities in her Intro to Business class.  We brainstormed ideas to create collaborative groups and have students curate current resources, and later present them,  using social curation tools such as FlipBoard, PopBoardz, Padlet or Google Docs.
Interested in learning more about Social Curation tools? Please come see us!  

Mike Radakovitz (PE):  Google Apps Integrated with Schoology
Mike is creating an impressive system with Google Sheets for his PE students to enter weekly data on their workouts to monitor their progress. He wanted to explore the best ways for students populate their own data in the Sheets and also to have them submit the data to Schoology.  Did you know that Google Drive is integrated with Schoology? This allows Mike's students to submit their data seamlessly.

Want to learn more about apps that are integrated with Schoology for streamlined workflow?  Please connect with us!

MaryBeth Khoury and Cindy D'Alessandro (Science): Twitter for Professional Connections
MaryBeth and Cindy stopped down for Twitter tutorials.  We discussed tips for creating a good profile, for establishing a professional following, for connecting with colleagues using hashtags. For example, Cindy and MaryBeth can connect with science teachers throughout the country - and the world - by exploring #biochat or #sciencechat. (We also may have shared strategies for voting in Mascot Madness!)

Let us know if you are interested in learning how you can use Twitter for professional learning, to have your students share their work with authentic audience, or to do research.

Kasia Paplinski (Social Worker): Google Forms for student feedback and data analysis
Kasia met with us to brainstorm the best way to move to a paperless system for soliciting feedback from students for large group programs such as SOS, or even small group meetings. We examined Google Forms and Backchannel strategies such as Today'sMeet or Twitter.  Kasia was pleased with the way that the Google Forms streamlined her team's ability to connect with, respond to, and analyze the student feedback.

If you are interested in learning efficient ways to solicit student feedback and respond to student needs, let us know.  You might also refer to this previous Collab Blog post on Google Forms by Kirsten Fletcher.

We always look forward to connecting with our colleagues in these kinds of collaborative professional learning experiences.

Do you have strategies you'd like to explore?  Do you have successful strategies to share?  Please keep in touch with us!  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Website Review: IXL

By: Rachel Barry

In our Elk Grove Lead Learners meetings, we have discussed the importance of formative assessments and providing students with immediate feedback.  I have been working to incorporate these tools more frequently and through different methods to increase student engagement and learning.  

One website that I have begun to use somewhat regularly is  This website offers both free and paid versions.  Everything I will discuss here is using the free version.

IXL offers open answer quiz questions in the areas of Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Science for grades pre-K all the way through 12th grade.  Within each content area, you can search by grade level (though not always based on the order of skills we teach at EG) or use the search feature.  It is very easy, and you will find many question sets on the same topic.
Once you choose a topic, you can share the website link with your students.  For users of Schoology, it opens it right within the app, so it is a seamless transition.  

Students get one question at a time, and all students will be given different questions.  For example, here is a sample from the question set of "Surface Area of Cubes and Rectangular Prisms".  
I provide students with scratch paper, to work out their solutions.  Then, students will type in their numeric response and receive immediate feedback of whether it was correct or incorrect.  
The greatest component is the reflection piece after each incorrect answer.  Here is a sample response that the students will see:

This explanation provides students with explicit and individualized information, including visuals, to help each student understand what he/she did incorrectly.

On the side of each question, there is a bar that provides information on the question set including the number of questions answered, the time that the student has spend on the question set, and a Smart Score.  On the left is the toolbar that the students see, and then I provided the website's explanation of the SmartScore.

I think that this is a great tool for formative assessment, and I mainly use it as a quick warm-up in class.  It is a great way to also spiral old skills or provide additional support for gaps that my students have coming into my class.  If you have any other ways that you use IXL for, please feel free to share with the CollabLab!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Looking for a fun, easy way to have students review material? I first heard about FlipQuiz from my colleague Sara Kahle-Ruiz, French teacher at RMHS. Like Kahoot, Blendspace, and other educator-friendly sites, it is easy to create, share, and collaborate with colleagues on FlipQuiz. It is basically an on-line Jeopardy board where you input the questions and answers.
FlipQuiz game board. Students tap the amount to see the question.
Students answer questions orally, then click "Reveal answer".

Students all play on one device. 
To create a FlipQuiz, simply create a free account at FlipQuiz. Then select "New Board". You may choose any number of categories and create 5 questions per category. You can enter definitions, questions, and even images. FlipQuiz also lets you search games that others have made. My favorite part about FlipQuiz is that students don't need an account. You simply embed the link to your quiz in your LMS, and students can open it and begin playing.

While you can certainly project this game and play as a whole class, I've found that it's much more engaging to share the link and have students play in small groups. They have to keep track of their own score, but that way they can play individually or in teams. It's a great way to incorporate some student choice into your review activity, and it frees up the teacher to circulate and answer individual questions students might have.
Students work at their own pace and can work in small or large groups.
FlipQuiz does also have a Pro version that offers cool features like importing questions from Google Docs or exporting questions and answers to Excel or Word so you can print out answer sheets.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Expanding Collaboration Across Schools: A D214 Learning Exchange!

Written by Linda Ashida

What is a D214 Learning Exchange?

If you are familiar with Elk Grove's "Teaming on Tuesdays," think of this first D214 Learning Exchange as a "Teaming on Tuesdays - on the road" connecting two schools.  In other words, it is a professional learning experience that gives educators the opportunity to expand their learning networks across schools by visiting multiple classrooms and collaborating with their colleagues to make connections and reflect on their own practice to impact student learning.

More specifically it involved: 2 days, 2 schools, 26 teachers, 16 class visits, and multiple conversations to reflect on our learning.

Read on to learn more!


Here's how it happened:

After a series of well-received "Teaming on Tuesdays" at Elk Grove High School, our Collab Lab Team began talking about how it would be great to expand this kind of professional collaboration across schools.  We thought, "Why not take 'Teaming on Tuesdays' on the road?"

Soon after that conversation, I happened to be collaborating with my colleague Jeff Vlk, the Innovative Technology Facilitator at Buffalo Grove High School, and I proposed the idea to him, to see if some of his colleagues might host short class visits and conversations with their EG colleagues. After talking with Jeff, I met with Spanish teacher Danielle Ossman who happened to mention that she, too, would love to connect with colleagues in other buildings.  So, the series of conversations at EG and BG led to an expansion of our original idea idea. We thought, "Why not invite BG staff to visit EG one day, and invite EG staff to visit BG the next?"

Jeff and I proposed the the idea by our A-teams and a group of our peers. After a positive response from all, we planned our first District 214 Learning Exchange.  We arranged for 8 teachers at each school to open their classrooms for short 8-10 minute visits during two class periods. Then we invited staff from each school to join us for an afternoon of collaborative professional learning.

Here's what it looked like: 


The schedule and participants:

As you can see from the schedule, the Learning Exchange involved interdisciplinary representation from 26 staff participants who hosted classrooms visits and/or participated by visiting classrooms and sharing reflections in follow-up discussions.

What we learned:



 Click on this link to our storify of tweets from the two-days to get a better idea of what the day "looked like" and what we learned.

We'd like to give a big shout out the the administrative teams at both schools for supporting teachers to participate in this experience.  And another shout out goes to all of the participants, especially those who opened their classes for peer visits.

In the future we plan to expand the Learning Exchanges with other schools.  We have also discussed variations for future D214 Learning Exchanges, imagining opportunities for follow-up discussions, either in person, or virtually via Google Hangouts, or arranging for content-alike groups to collaborate in a similar experience.  We would even love to see learning exchanges happen across schools on our teacher-led Institute Days.  There are many possibilities, but one thing is sure, we will continue to explore ways to expand our professional learning networks with our colleagues at Elk Grove High School and beyond, and reflect on our practice to impact student learning!

Reflection on Periscope

By Kim Miklusak

Last week I helped Rita Sayre Periscope her Science of Cancer forum.  While I had played around with the app a little bit before the forum, I definitely learned a lot from doing the event itself. 

It's very simple to set up.  Once you connect it to your Twitter account, it can send an alert to your twitter feed to let your followers know that you are broadcasting an event.  From the main screen you can also choose to watch events on different topics or presentations in your area. 

When you're ready to broadcast, you type in the title of your event.  There are a number of settings to allow people to connect with you and comment as you broadcast.  It also allows you to limit who sees your event.  I didn't use either of these functions, however.  When you're done, the link is live for 24 hours.  You can also save the entire presentation to your camera roll.

From a broadcast perspective, I can definitely see some limitations.  In the theater where Rita presented, it was hard to control the lighting, and the camera doesn't let you light balance like you would on the camera app.  It does zoom in and out, but again--maybe due to the lighting--the camera had a hard time focusing when she changed slides.  This also caused a problem when panning to follow her as she moved across the front of the room.

Overall, however, I think the possibilities for using Periscope in an educational setting are endless.  Immediately I could see using it for forum presentations, professional development days, assemblies, theater and music productions, sporting events, etc.  I know some teachers use it to broadcast their classroom as well, so that would be an interesting experience.

Please share with us in the comments any ideas you have for using Periscope in your classrooms and school as well!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Function-Based Classroom Intervention Ideas

By Sean Mulcrone

Function-Based Classroom Intervention Ideas

In order to determine the most appropriate intervention for a target behavior, we must first determine what the behavior’s function, or purpose, is.  Broadly stated, the function of a behavior is usually to gain or avoid something.  The most common function for students who look to gain something are gaining attention or gaining a tangible reward.  The most common function for students who look to avoid something is work avoidance.  Another behavioral function that doesn’t fall into either category is sensory stimulation.  Examples of such include a desire to feel pressure on one part of the body, a desire to be active and/or a desire to engage in repetitive physical activities (hand flapping, vocalizations, etc).  While most commonly seen in students who are on the Autism Spectrum, they can be seen in students with ADHD or Emotional Disorders as well.

Class-wide Behavioral Interventions
(To be used when the Target Behavior is being exhibited by >20% of your students)

Independent Group Contingency Plans

An Independent Group Contingency is a plan where each student is responsible for his or her behavior, and can earn a reward if they meet a selected criteria. The only thing that makes this group-oriented is that everyone participating has access to the reinforcers on the same terms. The teacher could choose to have all of the students in the class participate or just the students that need assistance with improving their behavior.  No student should be penalized for the behavior of anyone else.
How to Set-Up:
1.)  Pinpoint behaviors to be changed (Be sure to define and teach the alternative, desired behavior).

2.)  Decide which behaviors will have to be exhibited, and how often, in order for the student(s) to earn reinforcement.

3.)  Select reinforcers (can use a reinforcement menu w/students which is attached).  This can also be done by asking the class what they would like to earn, allowing greater student ownership over the intervention.

4.)  Prepare class for the intervention by first discussing the problem, how the problem impacts all of them, how the intervention may be beneficial, and how it will be implemented in the classroom.

Works Well For:
                        -Most all classrooms.
-Best if a majority of students in the classroom are motivated to earn the reward.


Dependent Group Contingency Plans

A Dependent Group Contingency is a plan where one student, or small group of students, may earn a reward for the entire class.  A agreement would be drawn up that defines what behaviors will have to be exhibited in order for the student(s) to earn a reward for the class.
How to Set Up:
1.)  Identify a student, or group of students who are appropriate for this intervention (most appropriate for students who have the skills to engage in the desired behavior, but do not consistently perform it.  Also works best for students who are social and can withstand some backlash if the class doesn’t receive the award).

2.)  Identify the desired behavior that you would like the student(s) to
engage in (must be clearly defined and at least initially, be something the student can accomplish with little difficulty).
-Identify the criteria (how often the desired behavior will have to be exhibited by the student) in order for the class to be eligible for the reward.

3.)  Prepare class for the intervention by first discussing the problem, how the problem impacts all of them, and how the intervention will be helpful, and how it will be implemented in the classroom.
Works Best For:
                        -Students who have the skills to engage in the desired behavior.
-Students who are social and can withstand some backlash if the class
doesn’t receive the reward.
-DO NOT attempt with students who have anxiety or who may be bullied by the class if they don’t earn the reward.

Interdependent Group Contingency Plans

An Interdependent Group Contingency Plan is one in which all the students in a defined group must meet the set criteria in order for any of the group members to earn a reward.  This can be set up where all the students in the entire class must meet a set criteria, a select group of students must meet that criteria, or one can even divide the class into teams and the teams that meet the criteria are eligible for the reward.

            How to Set Up:
1.)  Identify behaviors that you would like to see change in your classroom.
2.)  Determine if all the students in the class should have to meet that criteria or if only a select few should have to.
3.)  Determine what rewards should be used (Asking the students themselves or using a Reward Menu may be most helpful).
4.)  Set the behavioral criteria required to earn the reward, it should be objectively defined and easy for students to understand.
5.)  Prepare class for the intervention by first discussing the problem, how the problem impacts all of them, and how the intervention will be implemented in the classroom.

            Works Best For:

-Most classrooms
-Classrooms where a majority of students will be interested in earning the reward.
-If there is students sabotage the intervention in order to get negative attention, you may consider taking those students out of that group to avoid conflict.

Individualized Behavioral Interventions
(To be used when the Target Behavior is being exhibited by <20% of your students.)

Suggested Interventions when Gaining Attention is the Function

Praise Schedule

The main goal of this intervention is to provide them more praise/recognition/attention for engaging in desired behaviors, as opposed to inadvertently providing them with this attention when they engage in the target behavior.  More formal versions of this intervention may look like a teacher keeping a private tally of positive recognitions, putting objects in a jar/box/container each time positive recognition is given, or having a student record the number of times they have heard a positive recognition.

            How to Set-Up:
1.)  The ideal ratio for praise to redirection comments is 3:1, which for some of our students may seem extremely difficult.
2.)  With this being said, first identify how you would like to keep track of praise statements (tallies, paper clips, stickers, etc).  Make sure this method is easy to do and one that you will have access to throughout the day.
3.)  Once you have a tracking method set up, you should set a soft goal on how many positive praise/recognition statements you’d like to give.  This number should be as close to the 3:1 ratio mentioned earlier, or, at least a 25% increase from the number of positive praise/recognition statements the student currently receives.

            Works Best For
                        -All students, especially those who seek attention from adults.


Self-Monitoring is one of the most well researched and effective interventions for changing behavior.  The goal of the intervention is to increase the student’s self-awareness with respect to their behavior, as they keep track of how often they engage in a behavior.  Most commonly, these behaviors are tracked in relation to a mutually agreed upon goal.  If the student(s) are motivated to change a behavior (do better on tests, learn more, etc) then the increase in self-awareness alone should go a long way towards changing a target behavior.  If the student(s) are not initially motivated, then providing a reward upon the successful completion of the self-monitoring form and/or providing a reward after a certain criteria have been met, may be helpful in changing the target behavior.  Examples may include a student rating themselves on how much of the material they understand; a student tracking how often they engage in a particular desired behavior; and/or a student who tracks how often their mind wanders in class.

            How to Set-Up:
1.)  Together with the student(s), come up with a mutually agreed upon goal.  It is important that the student be motivated to complete
the goal, so having their input is crucial.
2.)  Develop a way that progress towards that goal can be measured.  Is it daily points for effort?  A checklist where tasks can be crossed off?  A calendar where one can mark down their daily progress (with weight, grades, a particular behavior, etc).
3.)  Agree upon a time and procedure to record one’s progress.  Most
commonly, this is done at the end of the period.  If the student(s) motivation to reach their goal is low and they need assistance, having a teacher review their rating and/or recognize their progress towards their goal may be very helpful.
4.)  Reviewing progress towards that goal frequently can be very helpful.  Most commonly, this is done at the end of each week, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the student’s level on interest/motivation.
            Works Well For:
-Almost all students in many different situations.  The more motivated the student is to succeed, the better it will go.  If the student is unmotivated, it may be very important to show them they can be successful at first, through either positive recognition or tangible rewards early on.

Talk Ticket
This is an intervention for students who too frequently seek attention from others, especially teachers.  In this intervention, students and staff member agree on how many times they can seek attention from a specific person or persons.  This number is then represented by a physical object, most commonly a ticket, punch-card or tally.  Each time the student seeks attention from that specific person or persons, they hand over one of their items and, in effect, use up one of their limited chances at gaining their attention.   

            How to Set-Up:
1.)  Get a baseline of how often the student requests attention from a specific person or persons (works best if the student is trying to gain the attention from a teacher/staff member).

2.)  Once the baseline is determined, reduce that number by 20-25% and that will be the number of times a student can request attention from that specific person(s).
3.)  Decide how one would like to keep track of that number, whether it through physical “tickets”, tallies, signatures, etc.
4.)  Discuss the importance of being independent and/or making limited requests for attention with the student and introduce the intervention.
5.)  Go over the steps of the intervention, mainly that the student will be given so many “talk tickets” (or however you are keeping track of the requests for attention), and each time they make a request for attention from that person, they lose one “talk ticket” and only have so many left.

Suggested Interventions when Gaining Tangible Item is the Function.

Token Economy

When the function of a behavior is to obtain a tangible object, the basic rule of thumb is to allow them to earn that object, but only after they’ve met some mutually agreed upon goals or accomplished specific tasks.  One way this is done is through a “Token Economy”.  In this intervention, each time the student engages in a desired behavior they earn a “token”, which can be physical objects (like coins, stamps, stickers, etc) or points.  As the student accumulates points, they can choose to “spend” the “tokens” on certain rewards.  Ideally, the student and staff member would agree on a few potential rewards before the intervention, with some rewards being worth more tokens and some being less.  This variety in price allows for both easily accessible short term rewards and more gratifying long term rewards.  Examples of this intervention include: a student who earns time listening to music after they’ve earned a certain number of participation points, a student who earns a positive phone call home after earning so many gold cards, or a student who gets points each time they engage in a particular desired behavior and chooses their reward from a list at the end of each week.
            How to Set-Up:
1.)  Understand what rewards/reinforcements the student may want to work towards.  This can be done using a “Reward Menu” so the students can choose from a list of potential rewards.
2.)  Once they have identified a reward, or several potential rewards, you must decide how “valuable” they are, meaning, how many “tokens” the student must earn to receive that reward.
3.)  Tokens can be any physical object that represents “value” that can be put towards the “purchase” of a reward.  Pieces of paper, gold cards, wooden tokens or points can all be used as tokens.
4.)  Once a potential reward(s) have been chosen, tokens decided     
upon, the next step is to determine how tokens will be earned. 
5.)  With the student(s), decide which behaviors will be worthy of earning tokens.  Weight can also be modified to reflect the importance of the desired behavior(s).  For instance, finishing one’s in class assignment may be worth 1 token, but helping someone else finish theirs may be worth 2.
6.)  Lastly, decide on who will hold onto the tokens (student or teacher) and how the accumulation of tokens will be tracked.

*DO NOT take away tokens that the student has earned.  If the student does not engage in the desired behavior, they will not earn more tokens.

            May be Best For:
-Many students may benefit from this intervention.  Works best for students who have difficulty delaying gratification or who have difficulty sustaining their motivation.                       

Suggested Interventions when Avoiding/Escaping Work is the Function.

Schedule Breaks

If the function of the behavior is to avoid/escape work, one of the most common interventions is to allow the student to take a temporary break from the work, but only after they’ve completed a predetermined amount of work first.  How much work they will be expected to do before they earn a break is wholly dependent on how much work they’re currently completing.  Ideally, students should be asked to do 15-25% more work then their current rate in order to be granted a break.  Over time, the amount of work required before a break is granted should be gradually increased.

                        How to Set-Up:
1.)  Get a baseline of how much work a student typically completes.
2.)  Meet with the student to discuss the importance of work (practice leads to mastery, convey what you’ve learned, passing the class, etc), then make an agreement whereby if they complete 10-20% more work than the baseline, they are awarded with a small break.
3.)  This can be set-up as a class-wide contingency, whereby all the students in class are awarded a break if all complete a certain amount of work.

Works Best For:
-Students who are not interested in completing academic tasks and those with ADHD.

Pre-Rating Difficulty

This is a preventative approach that asks students to rate the difficulty of a task that they are about to complete.  Many times, this can be from a 0-10 point scale, with 0 being very easy and 10 being very hard.  By doing this, students are already engaging themselves in the task, understanding which problems maybe easier to start with, and letting the staff members know which problems they find difficult.           

            How to Set-Up:
1.)  Instruct student(s) that you would like them to rate the difficulty of the task.

2.)  This can be done in some different ways, but the most common are a likert scale (with 1 being very easy and 10 being very difficult) or with a percentage (0% being not understanding anything and 100% being understanding everything).
3.)  Decide how the students will display their rating, this is most commonly done on the top left or right hand corner of the paper.  It can also be done on the I-Pad or verbally.

            Works Best For:
                        -A preventative approach that can help all students.

Building Behavioral Momentum

For students who have difficulty starting their work, they may benefit from an initial reduction in the amount of work they are presented with.  This may take the form of only doing even or odd numbered problems or being presented with only 1 task to do at a time.  The basic premise is that if students are presented with fewer tasks, they’ll be less “overwhelmed”, and will be more likely to start on a task.  Once they start on a task, it will build momentum to keep working.

            How to Set-Up:
1.)  Analyze the student’s work habits.  Do they take a long-time to get started?  Do they give up after a few problems?  Do they rush through their work?  Are they perfectionistic? 
2.)  The option for gradually increasing the difficulty of work will largely depend on the student(s) work habits.
3.)  If they take a long time to get started, have the students work on very simple problems/steps first, to build momentum.
4.)  If they give up after a few problems, have the student(s) circle problems they think they can solve easily, then underline the problems they are a little less confident in.  At first, consider allowing the student to complete just the circled items, but over time, gradually have them complete more and more of the circled items.
5.)  If the students rush through their work, then setting a rule, whereby they only be done if they complete a certain number of problems correctly may be helpful.  Either this, or having them re-do the tasks they rush through each time (if feasible).
6.)  There are probably other habits of work that do not fall into any of these categories.  If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sean Mulcrone or anyone within Student Services.

Works Best For:
-Students who have the academic skills to complete academic tasks, but underperform and complete less work than they are capable of doing.

Suggested Interventions when Sensory Stimulation is the Function

Sensory Breaks

When the function of the target behavior is to satisfy a sensory need, then the most common approach is to allow them to meet that need more appropriately, whether that’s through more appropriate behavior or at a more appropriate time.  In these cases, taking preventative approaches in most ideal.  Some examples of preventative approaches are allowing a student with ADHD pass out papers or become a classroom helper in order to meet the physical desire for hyperactivity.  Another preventative approach might be to grant a student a stress ball should they need to feel the sense of pressure in their hands.  If a preventative approach cannot be taken, allowing the student to excuse themselves while they engage the target behavior may be necessary, with a follow-up conversation on what other alternatives may have been more appropriate.

How to Set-Up:
1.)  Ensure that sensory stimulation is the primary function of the behavior.  Evidence of this may be that it often occurs randomly (unless it’s stress related, in which case there will be a pattern), will not change regardless of what happens after the behavior (if rewards or punishments are implemented) and it appears as thought the student has no control over when they engage in the behavior.

2.)  Together with the student, agree upon a signal (can be verbal or non-verbal) that the student will give to you when they notice that they have the urge to engage in the target behavior.  Some common signals may include raising ones hand, requesting to go to the bathroom, handing the teacher a card, etc.

3.)  Once the signal has been agreed upon, then the student will be allowed to engage in the replacement behavior, or more socially appropriate alternative behavior.  Depending on the alternative behavior, this may be done inside the or outside of the classroom.  Examples of some alternative behaviors done outside of the classroom include clearing ones throat loud for those students who need vocal cord stimulation or walking around for hyperactive student.  Some examples of alternative behaviors done inside the classroom include utilizing a stress-ball for students who need tactile stimulation or a rubber band on the skin for students who have self-injury urges.

4.)  Over time, as the student(s) becomes more self-aware, they may engage in the target behavior without the signal or prompt, especially if it’s something they can do within the classroom setting.

            Works Best For:

                        -Students who have sensory needs that require stimulation.