Category Archives: Special Education

Data-driven solution to change student behavior

As a School Psychologist and Special Education coordinator, I participated in hundreds of meetings and noticed a common problem when it came to making and charting behavior plans.  The general education teacher was often times left to create a behavior chart and bring data back to the next meeting regarding the progress of the behavior plan.  For even an experienced teacher, this task is an extra responsibility on top of dozens of other requirements and paperwork that must be completed.  A novice teacher may leave this meeting lost, confused and overwhelmed altogether.  So, why not have a complete charting system ready to give to a teacher at the SPED meeting and RTI meeting that can be customized for each child’s individual need?  This way the team can truly make a comprehensive behavior plan that will benefit the student, support the teacher, and be ready to be implemented immediately.

Over the past few months I have worked with the company Yoyoboko to create a Reward/Behavior Chart that is easy for a teacher to implement, rewards the student for meeting goals, and creates data that is easily charted and shared at follow up meetings.  A win-win-win for all those involved!

There are three main components to the chart—

1.The behavior chart where you can divide the day into different segments and add up to four target behaviors. Sixteen premade magnetic tiles with behaviors and pictures are also included, but you can also customize your own. Magnetic stars are added when the child meets the target behavior. A behavior goal (number of stars the child needs to earn) is clear to the student and stated on the chart.  This goal can change depending on the student’s progress.

2. A reward menu where the child can choose from one of four potential incentives if they have met their target goal. Eleven premade magnetic tiles with different rewards and pictures are also included.  Usually, this is the essential part of a behavior plan that is unfortunately overlooked, but provides a simple incentive for the child to meet the goals.  Blank tiles are also included so the reward can be customized to each child’s unique interests.


3. And finally, weekly tracking sheets where the actual data can be quickly and easily stored by the teacher, shared with parents, and then reviewed by the team to determine if the intervention has been successful or needs to be adjusted.  This is one of the most important parts of the entire plan, since, if it is not working, the team will need to make adjustments.  The only way to make this determination is with data to support the change or continuation of the current plan.  Also appearing on this sheet is a place for additional comments and for the parent’s signature. 

I envision a truly proactive school having enough charts stocked and ready to be provided at all meetings when it is determined a behavior plan is needed.  How nice would it be as a general education teacher to be given this guide and instructions?  Of course, teachers may also want to purchase the chart, so you are prepared for whatever type of student walks into your classroom and you have tools ready to use to help them.

You can order charts for your school, program, department, or classroom with the link below.  I would love to hear feedback once you use it with your school’s teams and students.

http://www.yoyoboko.com/product/yoyoboko-reward-chart-for-students/?wpam_id=2

 

Linking behavior between home and school

linking

Often times, the missing link in changing a child’s negative behavior is the home school connection.  When children exhibit challenging behaviors, the consistency between home and school are vital in making any long term changes.  This connection can be reached through constant communication and unique systems that make both the teacher and parents life easier.

Recently we have begun a “Hole Punch” behavior modification technique with a student in order to reinforce positive behaviors.  The child has two behaviors that he must exhibit in order to get a hole punch on a card: Follow teacher request the first time the request is made and Keep hands and feet in assigned area.  When the child completes either task, he receives a hole punch.

DSC_1098

Once the child receives 10 hole punches, he receives 2 minutes of time in his “super hero” basket.  This basket contains all different kinds of superhero stamps, stickers, color books, and toys.  This system is used in the school setting and the child has successfully responded and the number of behavioral incidents has decreased.

However, I believe the true success of this system is the follow through that happens at home.  The parent uses an app called IRewards Chart.  The parent types the same behaviors in their IRewards Chart.  Depending on how many hole punches the student receives at school, the student can press the button on the phone to enter that many stars on the app.  The parent also has added some additional chores and behaviors that are expected at home.

DSC_1103

The app allows the parents to set up a reward chart, so the child can save their stars for certain items/rewards and then cash them in when they have enough stars.  So, basically it is a token economy on a mobile device which is such an awesome idea!

DSC_1105

Using this app is a perfect carry over from school and the connection is very clear to the student.  It is also an easy implementation for parents since the app has created the system for you already and it is FREE!

This is just one example of the two “worlds” of home and school coming together to improve student behavior.  This can also be accomplished by using Individual Behavior Charts for older students.  Students receive points throughout the day on a behavior chart and then are rewarded for meeting their goal.  The parent signs the chart and reinforces the positive behaviors at home.

Whatever the system that is chosen, the key is consistency and communication between the home and school.  When the child knows that both the parent and the teacher are working together, this creates a more likely chance of lasting and permanent changes in behaviors.


Autism Awareness Month

autism

April is Autism Awareness Month!  For this month our school has decided to make pins for the teachers and staff to wear.  These pins were incredible simple and fun to make.

Materials needed:

Hot glue gun

Puzzle Ribbon (I found this at Walmart for about $2 a spool)

Puzzle pieces (You can get a puzzle at the Dollar Store)

Pin hook (It cost about $3.50 for 40 pin backs)

Paint

Glitter

Decoupage

Step One: Paint all the puzzle pieces one color.  I used blue since blue is the color that represents Autism Awareness.

Step Two: After the pieces dry, paint with a layer of decoupage and sprinkle glitter on top.

Step Three: Cut the ribbon and loop to form a ribbon.  Hot glue the ribbon together.

Step Four: Glue the glittered puzzle piece on top of the ribbon and glue the hook on the back of the ribbon.

autism22

I searched pinterest and found this great card that I printed and pinned the puzzle piece pin on for a final product!

autism11

4 Ways to Increase Parent Involvement

4-Waysto-IncreaseParent-Involvement

I’m excited to have an article on the Teach for America Blog, Teacher Pop.  Here is a sneak peek at the article.

Depending on where you teach, parent involvement can be a tricky issue to tackle. I’ve worked at schools with tremendous parent involvement—even to the point of over-involvement—and others where parents rarely stepped in the building. In order to create a continuous environment of learning and success for children, it’s important for parents and teachers to partner and collaborate. So, how can you build parent involvement in your school?

Click on the image below to keep reading.

parent involvement1

Show and Tell Tuesday

show and tell tuesday

I’m excited to be linking with Forever in Fifth Grade for another Show and Tell Tuesday.  I’m a little late this month since we have been wrapping up before Spring Break.  I want to show a couple of projects I have been working on for the past month.

show and tell tuesday 1

We hosted the first ever Special Education Parent Resource Night with the theme of “Putting the Pieces Together” at the end of last month, and it was a great success!!  We had 19 families attend and gave away a lot of resources for parents to use with their children at home.  We were very lucky to have received donations from a couple of companies and the PTO, so the event cost very little money.

parent3

show and tell tuesday 2

Our house sold and we are busy packing and giving away our things.  I have been using a simple organizational method of a “Keep/Boat” box, “Sell” box, and “Giveaway” box.  Plus, I have had many trash bags full of things that need to be thrown away!!  It feels so rewarding to de-clutter everything!

DSC_0770

show and tell tuesday 3

I currently have a giveaway going on that you can enter to win a set of magnetic letters/numbers.  We gave away 11 sets of these at our Special Education Parent Night thanks to a generous donation from Educational Insights.  You can do so many different learning activities with these letters!

letters
Enter below to win this set of Magnetic Letters from Educational Insights (a 24.99 value).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Hosting a Special Education Parent Resource Night

hosting

This year we hosted the first ever Special Education Parent Resource Night at our school.  It ended up being a great success with many resources given to parents to help their children at home.  The theme of the event was “Putting the Pieces Together” with emphasize on how it takes a team of people to help a child achieve their best.

parent3

The evening was structured around mini-sessions and parent could pick the three sessions they would like to attend.  The mini-sessions were conducted by myself, our special education teachers, paraprofessionals, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Counselor.  The card below was sent to each parent, along with an invitation, for them to use to RSVP to the event.

rsvp

Each parent was also sent a reminder in the mail, as well as a reminder phone call.

The purpose of each session was to give parents take home resources they could use with their children immediately.  Depending on the session we provided a number of different learning tools.  For example, in the session titled “Making Math Fun”, we provided foam dice, cards, and dominoes and then handouts of different games parents can play with their child that practice various math skills.  We had a wonderful donation from Educational Insights of magnetic letters that paired with the session “Building Young Readers”.  Parents were given the letters, a baking sheet, and different activities that can be used on the baking sheet to learn letters and make words.

ballons

As parents checked in, they were given a schedule of the sessions they would attend with a bag that contained the following:

  • Special Education Parent Binder
  • A book on their child’s current independent reading level with a card of Lexile and Fountas and Pinnell levels
  • Magnet of all their child’s passwords for different computer enrichment programs
  • Dry erase board and marker and a pen

parent1

They were also given a schedule of the different mini-sessions they would be attending.

parent1

After they received their bag and schedule, they had a chance to pick out two books for their child and one book for themselves.  This way we were able to promote a “family” of readers.  I also provided information on our ongoing “Reading is Sweet” incentive program.

I was pretty excited when I found puzzle piece ribbon at Walmart and knew I needed to find a why to use it.  So, I attached the balloon to an anchor and hung a sign to label each area of the table.

parent2

We provided light refreshments from Chik-Fil-A and a couple of veggie trays.  When all parents had a chance to get a bite to eat, I reviewed the contents of the notebooks.  Anyone who has experience with special education, knows how much paperwork is given to parents.  I wanted to provide them an organized notebook to store all the paperwork they collect over the years. Dividers were labeled as follows: Current IEP, Progress Reports, Evaluation Reports, Past IEP’s, and Notes.  They were also given a pre-meeting and meeting notes templates to use.

parents3

After we reviewed the notebooks, parents split up to begin their mini-sessions.  Each session had between 2 to 7 parents at one time, which created a nice intimate setting that made parents comfortable to ask questions. We had a total of 19 families attend and provided childcare for the children.

I loved the feeling of teamwork that was accomplished by the end of the night between parents and the school.  My goal has always been to create a special education program that is collaborative in nature and hosting a special education parent resource night is definitely something I would continue to do in the future to continue positive relationships with parents that ultimately benefits the students.

As I mentioned above, Educational Insights graciously donated boxes of magnetic letters to our event.  Enter below to win a FREE set of Magnetic Letters from Educational Insights (a 24.99 value).

letters

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Take Home Math Kits

coverIt seems there is typically a larger focus on literacy skills than math skills, so I wanted to make sure to give both of these skills their equal share of practice with our students.  We sent home take home literacy kits earlier this school year, so now we will be sending home take home math kits.  With the help of Oriental Trading, we were able to make five different kits that target specific skills and are engaging for parents to do at home with their children.

Kit #1

blue

The target skill for this kit is one digit addition and subtraction.  Included in the kit are Counting Monkeys and Flashcards.  Parents can quiz their children with the flash cards and use the counting monkey for manipulates.  Once students have mastered this skill, I plan on adding sand timers, so they can work on fluency.

Kit #2

yellow

This kit is for students who are still learning numbers and number sense.  Student count the number of objects on the sheet and place the correct magnetic number on the tray.   Included in this kit is a Cookie Tray, Counting mat, and Magnetic Numbers.

Kit #3

orange1

The focus of this kit is Number Bonds.  Children fill in the blank circle with the correct number to complete the “bond”.  Each tote includes a set of 15 Number Bonds, dry erase marker and eraser.

Kit #4

red2For this kit, I made an activity sheet so students can create equations with the numbers they roll.  Each kit includes a blue and a red number cube, as well as an operations cube.  Students role the cubes, fill the numbers into the corresponding color box and then complete the equations.  The contents of the tote include a dry erase marker, activity sheet, and Math Connecting Blocks.

Kit #5

green1

The final kit focuses on place value.  Each kit includes 15 Place Value Puzzles which consists three separate pieces.  Parents can build the puzzles with their children and practice math at the same time!

Students have enjoyed receiving their colorful tote bags to take home to use with their parents.  And parents have appreciated  the engaging and hands on activities to do at home with their kids, which is a welcomed alternative to worksheets or other homework!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Show and Tell Tuesday

show and tell tuesday

I’m excited to be linking up again with Stephanie at Forever in 5th grade for another Tuesday of “Show and Tell”.  I have been working on a lot of different projects since last month!

show and tell tuesday 1

Special Education Parent Resource Night

We will be hosting our first ever Special Education Parent Resource Night in a couple of weeks and I have been busily planning the night’s activities.  Parents can choose from 12 different mini-sessions that will be provided by special education teachers, OT, Speech Pathologist, Counselor, or myself to attend.  Each session will have “Make and Take” materials, so parents can begin working with students at home immediately with different tips and material.  I’m really looking forward to this night and will write an article about it after it takes place detailing all the different components and ideas!!

spednight

show and tell tuesday 2

Valentines Day

We had a lot of fun with making Valentines this year…..we actually made almost 100 Valentines between a staff of teachers, 2 preschool classrooms and teachers, and coworkers.  Here is a little sample of all of the different Valentines we made…..”Superhero lollipops”, “Shooting for Brownie Points”, “Thanks for putting your heart into teaching”.  I have to admit, I am pretty obsessed with Pinterest and all the amazing ideas you can find, so I can’t take credit for any of these as original ideas!

covervalentine

 

show and tell tuesday 3

Book Buddies

This month we have picked the book Raindrop Plop for our book buddy.  We are still working on all the different activities, but the picture below is a sampling of what we have done so far.  The girls LOVE creating book projects each month. We would love to expand this “project/idea”, so if you have a child between the ages of 2-4 and would like to join in the fun, let me know and I can send you all the details!

bookbuddies

 show and tell tuesday 4

Giving Parent Positive Feedback

I just finished a product, that gives parent very specific, positive feedback regarding behavior.  So often, parents of challenging students only hear the negative comments and feedback, the purpose of this product is to send home a quick, simple note that gives very specific behavior feedback.  These notes partner with Behavior Badges and can be used in conjunction with them!

notes

Head over to Forever in Fifth Grade to check out all the other fabulous posts!

Behavior Badges

bbbadge

Behavior Badges are a visual “badge” that students can either wear, tape to their desk, or the teacher could use as a whole class visual/system.  Having a goal that is visual is very important to many students (and adults).  Personally, I use an agenda every day that keeps my daily goals in order and have to do list visual next to me on my desk.  Recently, I have also begun using sticky notes and thus the idea of a similar method for kids came into my head that was more “kid friendly”.

If the teacher wants to use behavior badges as a classwide intervention, then one behavior should be picked that the teacher will be focusing on that day.  Below is a list of some of the most common behaviors I have seen over the last few years, all stated positively!

Take responsibility for actions and do not blame others
Accept corrective Feedback without being negative.
Get along with classmates by showing socially appropriate behaviors.
Keep my hands and feet to myself.
Prepared for class with all necessary materials.
Focus on teacher instructions and assigned work.
Respectful and comply with adult request without arguing.
Controlled emotions when faced with a difficult situation.
Raise hand before speaking.
Sit in my chair and work quietly.
Complete and turn in all school work on time.
Travel quickly and quietly in the hallway.

After choosing the behavior, the teacher would post it the front of the classroom and with either stickers or check marks the teacher would reinforce the behavior throughout the day when the WHOLE class is completing the behavior.  This could be done on random hourly intervals For example, at 9:05, the entire class is keeping their hands and feet to their self then the teacher would put a sticker on the badge.  This would be done throughout the day at 10:05, 11:05, 12:05, 1:05, and 2:05.

DSC_0840

If the entire badge is filled out with stickers at the end of the day, the class would earn a group reward which could vary.  Check out Reward Menus for some different, simple ideas.

The same type of system could be used with an individual student or a small group of students in the classroom that need a little extra push!  Some students may simply just need the visual badge on their desk without the spot for stickers as a reminder throughout the day.  The teacher would point or refer to the badge when needed.  Other students may actually need the tangible sticker or check mark placed in the circle to remain focused towards their goals.

DSC_0828

Once the student has mastered the goal on their behavior badge, you can move on to a new goal to target.  If you would like a copy of 12 different behavior badges and their sticker counter part, click on the below image.

DSC_0833

 

Back to the Basics: Behavior Charts

CHARTCOVER

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in creative and involved behavior interventions and charts, but going back to the basic behavior chart can solve many behavior problems in the classroom, especially with parent support.

There are a couple KEY thoughts to keep in mind when setting up the chart—

1. How many times you want to divide the day in order to rate the behavior? 

At the very least I would suggest dividing the day into two parts, but some of the most successful charts I have seen are divided by subject and/or time.  The chart below is divided into six different time segments.

chart32. How many behaviors will you include on your chart? 

Some of the biggest detriments to behavior charts are including WAY too many behaviors and the behaviors are stated negatively.  Such as “No hitting” instead of “Keep your hands and feet to yourself”.  In order to keep it simple and most likely more successful, start with only one or two behaviors.

3. What kind of rating scale will you use?

A simple check mark can work in some cases to indicate the student achieved the desired behavior during class.  I have also seen teachers use stamps and stickers to put in the box if the student completed the desired behavior.

A point system in the example above  could also be used and the student earn 1, 2, or 3 points during the assigned time.  For younger students a smiley or frowney face can be used.

chart2

4. What will be the students’ goal?

The goal must, must, must be obtainable.  When choosing a goal, think about the students’ current progress and make the goal very close to how he/she is currently performing.  In order for a student to “buy in” to the system, they must have a goal they can achieve immediately in order to get reinforced immediately.

5. Who will be in charge of providing the reward?

Many times behavior charts are created and have no reward attached to them or the reward is not immediate enough for that individual student.  Most times, the reward needs to be provided at the end of the day.  Having the parent on board and providing a weekly reward at home can also be very helpful.  I have seen parents that have given their child time on the computer or game system based on the number of points they have received.  Such as 20 points equals 20 minutes on the computer/game system.

What other additions would you make to the chart?

Some teachers like to have a comment section on the chart or a place to write homework.  Additionally, placing the student goal on the chart is important, as well as a line for the parent to sign.  In order for lasting change in student behavior, both teachers and parents need to be reinforcing the use of the chart with the student.

chart1

No matter what chart is used, it must be consistent.  Implementing the chart only one or two days will NOT work.  Give it a least of week and if it is not working try adjusting the goal or reward.

You can check out different behavior charts by clicking here.