Archive for the 'Classroom management' Category

Let’s tootle

In one of my classrooms when I was teaching in the early 1970s, I used to give my students tickets, tell them to write their names on the back of each one, and give one to a classmate when the classmate did something that made them feel good. It was a slapdash effort on my part to promote positive interactions among the students and to reverse the usual complaints about what one or another student had done (“tattling”). Christopher Skinner and his colleagues took these same ideas way many steps better. In the place of “tattles” they created “tootles” by combining “tooting” one’s horn with “tattling.”

Tootling is similar to tooting your own horn in that positive behaviors are monitored and reported. However, during tootling students report peers’ positive behaviors, not their own. Tootling is similar to tattling, only, when tootling, peers report incidental prosocial behaviors. (Skinner, Cashwell, & Skinner, 2000, p. 263),

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Notes on notes home

Ever wondered whether it was worthwhile to send notes home about children’s behavior? This note will not provide comprehensive coverage of home-school communication, but there has been a bit of research about using home-school notes as a means of supporting behavior management. There is a system based on "Daily Behavior Report Cards," (DBRC) which is a broad term used to refer to a cluster of similar techniques. Essentially, teachers develop a fairly simple system for describing behavior and use it to communicate with parents; parents use the data to provide previously arranged consequences at home. 

photo of BD folks 2014
M. Tankersley, T. Landrum,
K. Vannest, & S. Forness
TECBD, Tempe, AZ, 2014

Of course, you can see many of the potential issues. Yes, please sing that song about the positives. Right, you'd need to plan the system so that the student wouldn't encounter terrible sanctions for a low report. You'll think of lots of other issues. More help on that in a few secs. 

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Teaching classroom management

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a self-appointed group that generated quite a stir in 2006 with its report about reading education (“What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching About Reading–and What Elementary Teachers Aren’t Learning“), released a report about the absence of high-quality instruction in classroom management for prospective teachers in December of 2013: Training our teachers: Classroom management. Readers of Behavior Mod will likely find the report rather distressing, because it shows a glaring absence of tutelage in the use of behavioral principles in teaching.

The NCTQ identified five classroom management strategies that it considered especially valuable for students to acquire during their teacher preparation programs:

Token economy resource

Vanguard, the investment company, provides a free product called “My Classroom Economy” that it touts as a way to promote financial literacy. It is something like an extended token economy. Vanguard associates My Classroom Economy with the practices of Raef Esquith, the author of popular education books such as Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire.

The directions vary in specificity. At the primary grades, students are to earn a lump sum of $2 each week, provided they did not break one or two rules (each infraction costs $1). As is obvious, the system was not created to permit particularly fine-grained reinforcement. At the middle grades, students pay “fines” but they are levied at a later time than when the misbehavior occurred, that is, the consequences are not necessarily immediate. So, following the recommendations of Mr Classroom Economy probably would not provide a sound basis for a behavior management system.
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Not my GBG

Over on eHow, contributor Greg Stone noted that B. F. Skinner’s studies in the 1950s helped educators develop ways to use positive reinforcement in classrooms. Apart from the mysterious date reference, so far, so good. Mr. Stone continued, “Positive reinforcement helps reinforce and shape behavior in the classroom. Games teach children proper behavior in a fun and memorable way.”

Mr. Stone’s first example is “The Good Behavior Game.” Yea! But, that’s where it goes a bit awry.

This game can be played both in the classroom and at home. For school, make a chart with all the behaviors you expect from your students. The list can include working quietly, helping other students and finishing homework. Each day, let the students put stickers on the chart for activities they’ve completed. Set up a reward plan based on the number of stickers received for each week.

Now, mayhaps this really would be an effective game. Maybe it would promote appropriate behavior. I’ve not seen studies of the procedure he described. If any readers have, please drop the references in the comments. If not, perhaps some enterprising teacher could run a quick AB comparison or a couple of grad students could collaborate with some teachers and run a tidy multiple baseline test. Y’all could get the ball rolling….

But what Mr. Stone describes surely isn’t the Good Behavior Game that many of us know and admire. I wonder whether he has read about it. I shall write to him and ask. It’s obvious he’s talking about something different than the Good Behavior Game developed by Barrish, Saunders, and Wolf (1969) and then tested by many others.

Here’s the link for Mr. Stone’s “Behavior Modification Games.”
Given my string of recent posts about mistaken uses of behavioral terminology, one might just as well sign my posts with “Grumpy.”

Mayhaps I shouldn’t reward it with a reference? As folks alert to the trends in the techie world know, eHow is among the Internet resources that is dogged by accusations of generating headlines and creating content to suit visitors and boost positions in search rankings (see Claire Miller’s report, “Seeking to Weed Out Drivel, Google Adjusts Search Engine,” in the NY Times).

Barrish, H. H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. M. (1969). Good behavior game: Effects of individual contingencies for group consequences on disruptive behavior in a classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 119-124. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1969.2-119

Wrong about negative reinforcement

I was happy to note that several students in the first meeting of my introductory class this term knew that negative reinforcement does not mean punishment. Sadly, I happened to come across another example of folks perpetuating that very misinformation.

Over on wiseGEEK, a relatively long-standing Internet source that provides answers to questions, there is an article that addresses the question, “What is behavior management?” Hey, it caught my eye!

Behavior management is a type of behavior therapy that aims to control negative actions by preserving a level of order and direction. This approach to dealing with behavior change is largely practiced by those working in the field of education, specifically those who work with special needs children. Behavior management is employed to better help individuals or groups make positive, healthy behavioral choices.

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