Monday, June 25, 2012

I will be back....

Hey Everyone!!  I want to apologize for not blogging as much recently.  I am going through some changes and moving in the process....  so I am not going to be able to blog for about a week due to packing, moving, and lack of internet for a few days. 

I'm looking forward to sharing some great ideas with you when I return next week.  I will still be checking into the facebook page some, so leave some love there!  :-) 

Have a great week and I promise I will be back soon!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Differentiate the Classroom Plan

Who uses the color clip chart in their classroom?  Do your students get to move up and down the colors or do they only go one way? 

I suggest that you always move them up and down.  If you only move down, then why would the student want to have better behavior?  If I'm stuck on red for the rest of the day, I might as well have some fun.  Right?

I wanted to share a way we differentiate the color system with a couple students at our school.  Every student starts on white for the day and can move up and down throughout the day.  The colors from the top to the bottom are purple, blue, green, white, yellow, red.  Each color is associated with points and wherever they end up at the end of the day, they get those points.  150 points in a grading period earns the Big Event (party) for that 9 weeks. 

So... we had students getting on red and giving up.  They could move up, but they didn't try.  So here is the flow chart we made to introduce our plan:

Do you have a place that kids can take a break in?  This could even be in another classroom.  My room is the Student Support Center (SSC), so students come to me for these breaks.  You could use anywhere though.

Here is how it worked:
Student gets on red for the first time in the day, they go take a 15 minute break somewhere.  When they return to the classroom, they move back to white.  If they have issues on the break, they can be referred to a counselor.  We have a level system, so a level 2 is going to another classroom for a break, a level 3 is with a counselor or administrator, and level 4 is usually ISS or OSS.

If the child is able to go back to class, they are back on white and starting again.  If they make it to red again, they have a 30 minute break at this point.  Same thing happens on if they return to the classroom or to a Level 3 after 30 minutes.  Once back in class, they are on white again.

If they get on red a 3rd time, they automatically go to the office with a consequence of ISS or OSS. In this example, the student did ISS in a 1st grade classroom.

This has really helped with a few of our kids and keeps issues out of the office until a last resort. 

When I talk about breaks, I don't mean that the child gets to mess around.  You can determine what the child does.  The child can take work to work on, complete a think sheet about their behavior, read a book, do sensory activities to calm down, or anything you come up with.  

Could you use something like this in your school to help?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Temper Tantrums

WWAAAAA... Temper Tantrums are something that I see frequently in my classroom, but are definitely something I cannot stand!  When students are in control of their behavior and throw fits just because things don't go their way or they want attention, something needs to be done to change this behavior.

When a child throws a tantrum, most people do 1 of 3 things:
1.) Ignore the behavior
2.) Punish the child for the tantrum
3.) Give in to the child, so the tantrum stops

So what is the right way to handle a tantrum???

Unforunately, there is not one way to handle these tantrums because everyone child is different, but here are a few things to consider when dealing with children that are throwing tantrums.

1.)  Determine the function of the behavior and make sure you are not contributing to it with the way you react.  If you are giving them attention or taking away something from them that they are wanting to happen, then they will continue to have that behavior to get what they want again.  For more info on functions of behavior, see my previous blog post on them HERE.
2.) If you are going to ignore the behavior, make sure to guide the student to comply with the directions.  If you only ignore the behavior, many children will continue to escalate and find other ways to get what they are wanting.  Sometimes this may mean that you will have to stand near a child and block unsafe actions, but don't make eye contact or say anything to them at all.  Just move them or block them and try to guide toward complying with directions.
3.) Many children through tantrums to get attention, so you need to remove those that will give attention.  You can move your students to another area of the classroom (example: from desk to circle area, etc).  Get the students engaged in another area of the room, and the child may want to join in or see what is going on.  Take your class for a walk or a bathroom break.  Of course you need to make sure the child is watched, if he or she doesn't follow the class.
4.) Praise AROUND the child.  This really works for younger students.  Give positive praise to the students that are near the tantruming child.  Many kids will start doing what the others are doing so they can get praise or rewards too.  Don't forget to give it to them when they finally do what they are supposed to.
5.) Set limits!!  If you need a reminder of what that is... look at my post on it HERE.

This will not work for every student or child, but these are the things you need to remember first.  There are some students that won't respond to any of this.  I will talk more about these students and ideas for them in later posts.

What other ideas do you have for handling tantrums?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Set-up

I started the set-up of my classroom today for next year.  A variety of people, including the Assistant Director of Special Ed, our Behavior Consultant, our Occupational Therapist, and a teacher in the same position at a different school, and a few custodians, all gathered with me today to begin the transformation of my new room.  It is a HUGE change from what I had last year, but it is going to be great!

I have decided to share pictures and details of the set-up of my room as I go along.  I will be explaining different visuals and ideas for students with behaviors as I make them and put them up.  I will continue to put in other blog posts from my list of things that you all wanted to know also.

So here is my new set-up:
This is one view from my desk.  The kidney shaped table is a Work with Teacher area for my primary students.  The circle table is a safe spot and break area.  Some students like to go under tables for safe spots, so this is a spot they can use.

In the center of the room, there are 2 computer tables that are back to back.  Each one has a piece of tape down the middle.  These will make 4 Work Alone stations.  The green, blue, and pink crates will be used for tasks that need to be completed and turned in.  The bookshelf will also be used for this.  I will try to get a better picture of this.  There is another Work Alone station with 2 spots against the back cubbies (with the blue tub on it that needs to be put up)

I have runners, so we are blocking the door to slow them down.  There is a walk way to get in the room, but they will not be able to run out as easily.  This is the shared desk of my 2 paras.  There is a bookshelf by the door to place the check-in sheet and things the students need to pick up on the way in.  The rug area will be used as a work area also when students can or need to work on the floor, along with a calendar area for my full-time students.

Leisure area - This area will have toys for my primary kids to have leisure time.  We will teach and practice play skills here.

Reading Area - I will hopefully add the Listening component to this area also.

Sensory Room - I have a separate, but attached room to devote all to sensory needs.  It is not set-up at all, but I cannot wait to use it.

Safe Spot - This will be the first time I have a desk in my Safe Spot.  We will see how it goes, but it is very secluded between cabinets and my desk.  I have students that come in for short breaks when their behavior is out of hand in the classroom, so they will use this also.

Going in tomorrow to do more. What are your thoughts or questions so far?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

There is an App for That

I had a great relaxing weekend out of town, but I missed blogging a lot!  I wanted to share an app for the IPAD to make Choice Boards easily.

Click HERE to get more information.  You can use your own pictures for this and choose the number of choices you want to give.  This would be so much easier to use with a child in the classroom or even in public places.

On another note... I am going in tomorrow to start setting up my classroom for next year... yes ALREADY!!  I am getting a student that needs a lot of different structure than I had to have this past year, so we have a team meeting tomorrow to figure out what is best for all my students. I cannot wait to put into place all the things I learned last week in training and collaborate as a team.  Be watching for pictures as I begin to put things together.  I will be sharing more ideas of things that may help in your classroom and with your students.

Who has access to IPADS in their classroom?  Either your own or provided by the school??


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Helping To Make Choices

I hope everyone is having a great week!!!  I have been learning so much through my HANDS in Autism training this week, so I have decided to blog about something you can implement in your classroom for students with Autism and even other students!

Many students on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty with leisure activities.  There can be too many things to choose from and they may not know where to start.  They may not know how to play with different toys appropriately either.  Some students may be non-verbal also.  Choice boards are a great thing to implement with students to help them make decisions.  Here is one I threw together as an example:

The way to use this is to make the pictures removable by putting velcro on them.  The student can pick the picture of the thing they want to play with and place it at the top.   Making a decision in this way is much easier for them than being shown a lot of toys in an area and having to pick one from there.  

This can be used in a variety of ways.  You can use any type of pictures on it that you want to let the child choose from.  You can also use any number of choices.  By using velcro, you can use the same board and switch out the choices on it.

Check out HANDS in Autism for a great document on Choice Boards.  The whole website has some great resources.

How would you use Choice Boards in your classroom??

Monday, June 11, 2012

How You Talk Matters

You may see the title and think... Duh Heather...  That is not anything new to me.  Well guess what.. good!  I'm glad you think that!!  I just want to share a couple terms that you may or may not know that are so beneficial for kids.  Many of you probably use these sometimes and not even know it, but with our behavior students... we need to use these strategies consistently.

By the way:  After 1 1/2 weeks of sleeping in, I had to get up and go to training all day and I'm exhausted, so if there are typos or something that sounds a little funny... I'm sorry.  :-)

On to the terms:

Forced choice: 
  • What:  This is where you give the student 2 ways to complete the task.  
  • How:  For example, you say, "We are doing writing right now.  You can either use a pen or a pencil" or "I need you to have a seat.  You can sit here or there." 
  • When and Why:  We all know those students that challenge everything we say.  You ask them to sit down and they just aren't going to do it.  Forced choice is a way to state a choice in a way that gives some control back to the student, but you still get the result you want. 
  • Things to think about:  When planning, we tend to play exactly how we want the students to complete the assignment, but sometimes we need to back up and remember that the end result and the knowledge gained is what really matters.  It doesn't matter how they get to that point. 
Set Limits:
  • What:  Setting limits is when you tell the student the 2 choices they have and the things that will happen after each of the choices.
  • How:  For example, you say, "I need you to sit down and do this assignment.  If you do, you can have computer time.  If you decide not to, I will have to mark your behavior chart."
  • When and why:  Sometimes forced choice just doesn't work and you need to move on with your day.  You can set the limit to let the child know what is going to happen with either decision that he or she makes.
  • Things to think about:  You have to be comfortable and okay with them choosing either choice.  They may choose the negative behavior, but you just follow through with your consequence and move on.   
 What examples of forced choices have you used or do you think you would be comfortable using?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Found this on Pinterest.. Check it Out!

Tonight's post will not have a lot of content!  I am fairly tired today and preparing for a week of HANDS in Autism training!  It is going to be a long week, but I am really excited to have this training to be able to use next year.

I came across a post on Pinterest yesterday of a simple yet very nice behavior management strategy. Click HERE to see the post on What's The Buzz in First.  Here is a picture of the strategy:

I'm not sure if this blog is still active.  It has been awhile since the last blog post, but here is the button also.

How do you think you could use this in your classroom? 

I hope you all have a great start to your week!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What's The Function?

First of all, I want to say welcome to all my followers and thank you to Heidi from HeidiSongs for posting my site on her facebook page and sending so many of you here.  You can check out her website here. It was because of a discussion on one of her posts last week that pushed me to start this blog also, so please check her out, if you haven't already.

Anybody else think of SchoolHouse Rock's Song "Conjunction Junction What's Your Function" with my title?  I have been singing that song all morning!

So anyway.. As many of you have been posting today, I have started a list of things that you want me to blog about.  I'm so excited to help you all out.  One of the first things that you need to figure out with any child is the function of the behavior.  Look at this chart:
You want to know why the child is doing the behaviors.  Then, you want to fulfill that need in a positive way that you are comfortable with.  For example:  If the child performs a behavior to gain attention, find a way for the child to get the attention they need.  This may even mean that they go to another teacher and help them out during the day to get attention from a younger peer.  If they want to gain a preferred activity, set goals with them.  They can do 2-3 things for you and then they get what they want.

The functions that I see happening the most are to gain attention, to gain preferred activity, to gain control, and to avoid tasks.  I have seen many of the others, especially to gain justice and/or revenge, but the 4 that I listed have been the most frequent in my experience.  Usually students are wanting to gain or avoid something. 

Big thing to remember:  This child is disrupting your class and not participating fully anyway... so why not give them something else to do and let them out of some of the instruction time?  It will benefit the whole class in the long run.

This was one of the hardest things I had to learn.  It is pushed so hard that all kids need to be participating, but we have to face reality folks...  There are many things out of our hands (home life, medicine, learned behaviors, etc) and sometimes we have to back off from pushing as much academics with certain students to get their behavior under control before learning will take place.

I'll touch more later on how to meet the needs of some of these functions.

What functions of behaviors have you seen in your classroom?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Safe Spot Materials

After a fun night of playing hangman at Buffalo Wild Wings (one of my favorite restaurants) with our awesome waiter, Rob (yes, we go there too much and know our waiter well), I am going to make a short post.  

I hope you have been thinking about setting up a safe spot in your classroom.  It is easy to set up and it will help students calm down before disrupting your classroom.  

Yesterday I listed what steps you need to take.  Here is a list of materials you may need:

- a couple barriers to make the area - You can use walls as barriers
- 1 comfort item (example: blanket, pillow, bean bag)
- Timer - I personally think it is easiest to use a sand-filled hourglass timer for the younger students to just turn over when they get to the area.  You could also use a kitchen timer that goes back to the set amount of time after it goes off.
- List of calming strategies - Don't forget to grab your freebie of calming strategies from yesterday's post here
- Pass - If you want your students to show you one before going to the Safe Spot.  I have picked up the term "Hot Pass" from others and love it.  This can be as simple as a picture of a face with the words "I need a break" or one that says "Hot Pass".

I've been asked to do posts about students with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  Those are coming soon.   

What other behaviors or eligibility categories do you want to hear about?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Safe Spot Needed with Freebie

How did I live without a Safe Spot in my room before?  I have no idea!

A Safe Spot is an area in the room that students can go to calm down by themselves.  I did not come up with the word Safe Spot and I'm not sure who did, but the words fit.  It doesn't have to be big or have much in it at all.  Here is one in a 1st grade classroom that I set up this year for a student:

I don't have a picture of the one in my classroom, but it was similar to this between a wall and a file cabinet.  It had a beanbag in it for the students to use.

You may ask... Why would I want this?   This gives students a place to calm down before becoming aggressive or disruptive. 

This can work for any classroom and any student.  All you have to do is the following:

  1. Find an area of your room that you can keep an eye on, but is out of direct teaching area.  You don't want it to distract from your teaching.  
  2. Find 1 comforting item to put in the area. (Examples: pillow, blanket, or beanbag)
  3. Decide your procedures for this area.  Do you want students to be able to go there whenever they want or would you like them to give you a pass to go?  Can they go unlimited times during the day or do they need a certain number of passes?  Do you want them to set a timer?  Do you want to use this for all students or just for those that need it?
  4. Teach the procedures!

Freebie Alert:  Do you want to know what the students can do in this area?  Click here for a list of calming strategies that can be posted for the student to do in the Safe Spot and a sign to label the Safe Spot.

Do you have any students that would benefit from this type of area?   

Check back tomorrow for a few more tips on setting up a Safe Spot in your room.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm Ready for Take-Off

This is it... I'm actually starting a blog.... and I'm so so excited! Here I am:

I have been tossing around the idea for awhile, but I have been unsure of what I would actually blog about.  As I have spoken with other teachers, there seems to be a great need for advice on handling behavior issues in classrooms.  Well.. guess what???   I teach Elementary Special Education, and I work with Emotional Disabilities and students with behavior plans.  I have experience with students in Preschool through 12th grade with severe behaviors, but most of my experience has been with preschool and elementary.  I cannot wait to share ideas with others to use.

So...  Have you dealt with any students running away?   What about a student being physically aggressive often?  What about constant class disruptions because a child wants attention?  Are you frustrated with not being able to teach because you seem to always be handling the behavior of a kid or 2?  Has your room ever looked like this?:

I'm here to help!  I will be blogging about ideas to deal with different students in your classroom, how to gain the support you need, how to teach new skills to these students, and ways to differentiate for the needs in your classroom.  I hope that you will join me as I begin this blogging journey and help you as much as I can.  

I want to hear from you now... what behaviors, skills, or classroom needs would you like to get advice about? 

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