Shopping at the Appy Store: New Motivating Materials

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I hope you are getting ready for the big sale tomorrow! I will be spending some time this evening getting my wishlist in order and leaving feedback to get those TPT credits.  Want to know more about the sale and where you can find great special education resources--check THIS POST.

If you are looking for the video on how to print the task cards, scroll to the end of the post to watch it.

However, before I could get started on my wishlist, I had to finish this product.  I am so excited about it and had to share it in time for the sale.

We all know that motivating students to learn can sometimes be the biggest obstacle to learning so I am always looking for ways to make learning engaging.  One of my Facebook fans suggested something with electronics as a possible new product since so many kids are interested in them.  I got to thinking about it and decided I needed to make an app store.  This is one of the products that will use the app store and I have a few more in the pipeline that you can look for that include money skills, next dollar, and possibly functional literacy.  In the meantime, let me share what is included in the Shopping at the Appy Store product.

Special Educators Are Heroes SALE LinkUp

special educators are HEROES TPT SALE
I am so excited that Teachers Pay Teachers have announced a 1-day site-wide sale. The theme of the sale is Teachers Are Heroes!  Well, duh! We knew that, didn't we?

You know that I think ALL educators are heroes, from teachers, to related service providers, to administrators and paraprofessionals.  General education and special education.  Every day, educators do more with less to provide life-changing experiences to their students.  That's a hero!

To help you out in finding sellers specializing in special education,  a group of special educators--the same group that is bringing you the February Blog Hop (see the graphic at the top of the blog all month for freebies)--wanted to bring all the sellers in special education together in one place. If you want to link up as a seller, jump to the bottom of this post.

DOs and DON'Ts of Using Fines or Response Cost to Reduce Challenging Behavior

As I said in the last post, it's important to use your FBA to determine what kind of consequence is going to be effective.  One kind of consequence we often use when we have a reinforcement system, like a token system, in place is response cost.  Response cost is when we remove a reinforcer or an opportunity for a reinforcer from the student in response to a challenging behavior.  It can be used in many different ways, but probably the most common is when the student is earning tokens in a token system and we remove them when we observe the behavior we are trying to decrease.  In our society we are prone to take things away as a punishment for misbehavior, which makes many people think that response cost is a natural to include in the use of a reinforcement system (i.e., you earn when you're good, you lose when you're not).  However, response cost often can come back and bite you if you aren't careful. So, I thought I would take some time to discuss some DOs and Don'ts about using response cost with students.  These are relevant to any population from typical individuals to those with behavior disorders and of course those with ASD.

Thomas and the Thinking Chair: Why "Consequences" Aren't Always What You Need

The final step for strategies in writing a successful behavior plan is developing the responsive strategies.  I spoke in my last post about DOs and DON'Ts for Responding to Challenging Behavior.  That post generated more views and interest than most of the other posts I've written.  So, either, everyone is really struggling with how do we respond when there is challenging behavior or we are missing the fact that most of our work has to come when challenging behavior isn't happening.  I suspect it's probably a combination of the two because we do struggle with how to react to challenging behavior and we do live in a society in which most challenging behavior is addressed and discussed in terms of how to respond to it, rather than how to prevent it.  I hope that the series leading up to that post helps us to remember that it's the work we put in up front with the teaching replacement behaviors and using antecedent interventions that creates real behavior change.

With that said, let me talk a little about what we, as a society, term as "consequences" for behavior.  One of the things I hear over and over again in my job is, "He needs to have a consequence" and "I can't just let the behavior go. He has to be disciplined."  Believe it or not, a punishing consequence for one student is not a punishing consequence for another.  Just like reinforcement, it depends on how the consequence affects future behavior. If the behavior decreases, it was punishment.  For some, our "punishment" is actually a reinforcer.

Let's take a common consequence we often use with young children and sometimes in school: Removing a student from an activity as a consequence of his or her behavior.  Essentially it is separating him or her from the group.  Sometimes people call it the thinking chair, as in the place to think about your behavior.  This consequence is frequently used with typical young kids.  It's effective, in moderation, with most problems presented by typical kids because typical kids are often hungry for adult attention and like the activity they have been removed from.

Now, let's consider Thomas (who is not a real person but whom many of you may feel you know).  Thomas is a 5-year-old with autism.  Interacting with other people is one of the hardest things he does all day.  It's not that he doesn't like people or to be completely isolated, but social interaction and communication are hard for him.  Most of his interactions focus around things he wants to get or sabotaged situations adults create to get more communication and interaction from him.  And sometimes Thomas starts hitting the kid sitting next to him or shoves him off his chair, and starts to scream, in the middle of morning meeting.

A functional assessment reveals that Thomas' behavior serves for him to escape from the social activities.  Before the functional assessment was completed, Thomas' teacher was doing something many preschool teachers do and removing him from the morning meeting to the thinking chair until he calmed down.  The data showed that calming down usually didn't occur until it was time to move to centers.  When the behavior analyst shared this with the teacher and told her that she needed ignore the screaming and hitting and keep Thomas in the circle, obviously she was upset and not happy with that solution as his behavior was ruining her teaching activity for the whole class.  She also stated that she "can't just do nothing!  He has to have a consequence for that behavior!"

So, was think chair or time out effective for decreasing Thomas' behavior?  Was it an effective consequence?

NO!  It was actually reinforcing the challenging behavior.  Thomas's hitting was followed by escape from the activity that probably was pretty difficult for him (sitting in a group, communication, social interaction).  Just because the teacher was the one removing him didn't make it any less reinforcing.  Just because we perceive removal as being a punishment didn't make it one for Thomas.

With that said, there also needs to be a good bit more thought put into how to address Thomas' behavior than simply making him remain in morning meeting (i.e., simply changing the consequence).  That's going to be a difficult task for the teacher to accomplish and be very disruptive for the rest of the class, so that is not a good solution.

Other solutions might include teaching Thomas to ask for a break, giving the teacher the opportunity to remove him for an appropriate skill rather than an inappropriate behavior.  Another might be changing morning meeting so that he has more communication and social support through more communication supports and more visuals (like a mini-schedule that shows him what is coming next).  And still another idea is to have him only participate in shorter periods of morning meeting and then move on to another activity proactively (taking into account how long he can usually sit without a problem) and reinforcing him for participating appropriately during that shorter time period.

So, in keeping with my mantra that there is ALWAYS more than one solution to every problem, you have to find the solution for challenging behavior that fits the student and the environment.

Just like with anything else, when choosing a response (or consequence) to challenging behavior, look to your FBA to tell you what will or won't be effective.  And try to help others understand that "consequences" aren't always the most effective way to change behavior.

Stepping down from my soapbox (until next time),

Workbasket Wednesday February 2015


I feel like I say it every month, but I can't believe it's the first Wednesday of February! But it is and that means it's time for the monthly Workbasket Wednesday Linkup.  I realized I really need to change this icon to match the new blog design, but that isn't going to happen tonight.  If you are looking for Valentine's related tasks, check out last month's post in which I used lots of Valentine's materials from the dollar store.  This month I have some quick and simple tasks.  So, if you are a blogger, get your post ready to link up below.  If you aren't a blogger, check out this post and the links below to check out the tasks.  I'm adding a new feature this time as well...if you have workbaskets you want to share, take a picture and share them on Instagram.  Use the hashtag #workbasketwednesday to tag it so we can all see them.

Special Education Valentine Blog Hop Freebies!!

Welcome to day 2 of the Special Education Valentine Blog Hop.  Remember, everyday come back and check the graphic at the top of my blog for the day's featured blogger and pick yourself up a little Valentine sweetness throughout the whole month.  Welcome to those of you who are new to my blog and thanks for the support from all of you who have been here before.

I am excited that I have a date before Valentine's day because it means that my freebie and post get to be about Valentines.


Functional Sight Word Comprehension and February Surprises!


Wow, there is so much going on and exciting stuff to share.  First, I want to share a new set of materials with you and then I want to fill you in a special surprise for the month of February from a group of special education bloggers!

DOs and DON'Ts for Responding to Challenging Behavior

It's been a while but I really want to try to finish up the 5 Steps to Meaningful Behavioral Support series with the final few posts on responding to challenging behavior considerations.  Of course these posts will be interspersed with our Special Educator's Blog Hop coming in February for Valentine's Day and Workbasket Wednesday next week so it won't be too intense.

Oh those behaviors we can't just pretend don't happen!  That kiddo who hits the kid next to him because it lights him up like a Christmas Tree that cries screams--"He hit me!"  That girl who, in the middle of your instruction when you are working with another student, starts throwing your materials off the table including the scissors.

Presenters in Autism and Special Education Worth Your Time and Money

Greetings from Vegas where I am currently attending the Applied Behavior Analysis International Autism conference and had the opportunity to attend a workshop by Linda LeBlanc on teaching receptive vocabulary skills to children with ASD.  Some amazing stuff that I will share in a blog post in the future so stay tuned for that.

As promised, I am following up my last post about annual conferences that are great to attend for quality information about autism with a post about speakers that are definitely worth seeing.

In addition, we have a giveaway going on that you just might be interested in for sports.  I've contributed some products you can enter to win and there will be more about that at the end of this post. More about that later.

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