Monthly Archives: July 2012

Behavior Intervention: Check In/Check Out


For a couple of summers now I’ve presented at the Behavior Blast for the Region 14 Educational Service Center.  This is a week of break out session covering a variety of topics, all concerning behavior.   One of my presentations is about a check in/check out program called the “The Behavior Education Program” or BEP.

Book Information:

Responding to Problem Behavior in Schools

Second Edition

The Behavior Education Program

Deanne A. Crone, Leanne S. Hawken, and Robert H. Horner

This is a good book to read to get an understanding of how a check in/check out program should work.  It also comes with training materials.    The book will stress that you follow the program exactly as they describe it.  I disagree.   While it is good to know how their program works; the key thing to remember is that with any program you will need to modify it to fit your specific setting.  What the book does is provide good guidelines and reminders about what you need and how to get started.  After that keep the general concepts and make it your own.  This program could be modified to fit a single class or grade level, however remember it will be most successful if used across the entire campus.

So how does it work?  You set students up with an adult mentor (the book calls this the BEP coordinator). They will meet with this adult every morning to discuss behavioral goals and receive their daily behavior report card (DBRC)**Click Daily Behavior Progress Report to see an example of a DBRC. **Note: This is an example, the goal are VERY generic.  Goals for your students should be more specific.**

Students then go to all classes and receive points from every teacher based on their goals.  Example: If a student is working on staying in their seat, that would be on their card.  The teacher would give them 2 points if they were perfect, 1 point if they needed some reminding and 0 points if they did not respond to reminders.  Then at the end of the day the student meets back with their adult mentor and adds up their points.  They can receive rewards based on reaching their point goal.  These could be given out daily or weekly, depending on the need of the student.   You could also schedule a check in point during the day and give a reward then.  Remember you design the plan to fit the needs of the student. (See my Incentives post for 100 free rewards ideas)

There is a component where you can send a carbon copy of the DBRC home to the parents for them to review, sign and return.  This should be done on a case-by-case base and is NOT necessary for the program to work, but can lead to stronger results if carried out properly. The success of parent involvement will depend on the parents and the child.  If you do choose to include parents be sure to TRAIN them on what this program is and how they can help produce results.

Click  Overview to see a visual diagram of the program.

Ok, so that’s basically the fast and rough overview.  So lets look at some key areas you will need to consider.  Here are some links that will give you questions to help develop your Check in/Check out system.

1. How to implement_– This document provides you with questions that will get you on the right path to developing the program.

2.BEP Coordinator-This document provides qualities that a good adult mentor/ BEP coordinator would have.

3.Referral System.- This document contains questions that will guide you through developing a referral system that fits in your schools.

4. Managing Data– This Document will help you standardize the data collection and review.

5. Fading Students Out– This document will help you fade students out of the program.

Please keep in mind that this is a very rough overview.  You need to develop a program that fits the needs of your students and school.  Any program needs to contain positive adult contact first thing in the morning and at the end of the day, a way of tracking progress throughout the day (Daily Behavior Report Card), and a way to track the daily progress over time.  This is NOT part of a discipline process and should be kept separate from discipline procedures.   As you train staff, students and parents remember this is a positive intervention.

**NOTE: I considered attaching the full Powerpoint from my training session, but I was afraid it would produce more questions than answers.  If you are interested in setting up a check in/check out program email me and I’ll get you more information.


Can you focus when you’re hungry?


Yesterday I was at the mall buying a new phone when I ran into one of my old students.  I haven’t seen this kid for over a year.  Most of my former students act like they don’t know me, so I was surprised that he acknowledged me. For you to fully understand my reaction you need to know what my role was for him.  I was a Behavior Coach.  I worked with students who frequented ISS and the alternative campus like it was a party. I tried to help them improve behavior, grades and stay in class.  With this background knowledge you might understand why my first thought was, “please don’t be shop lifting”.

I know that seems harsh, but the reality is this kid has a rough life and has made some bad choices to survive.

Well, I guess my thoughts were displayed in my expression because the first thing he said to me was, “I’m staying out of trouble!”

When I worked with him he was living with his Mom and Dad, but neither had a job, both were usually high and they bounced around from hotel to apartment about ever two weeks.  He was taking care of three younger siblings.  At home he was often the “man” of the house and at school he had problems being “bossed around” (as he put it) by teachers.   Unfortunately this is a common situation is some areas.

Now he wasn’t the roughest kid I worked with, but he could hold his own.  I was pleased to hear that he is living with a cousin and doing really well in high school.

Seeing him was a good reminder for me of what some of our students are going through.

I’m telling this story because as we return to school I want teachers and staff to keep in mind that the situations some students are coming from will affect how they behave and learn in school.

If you’ve been in education for a more than a year you know the look of a hungry kid.  You know the student who doesn’t have clean clothes, running water, or a stable/safe home.   And you know how this affects every aspect of their life.

So for new teachers I just want to ask you to keep an eye out for these kids and be aware of their issues outside of school. Don’t change expectations, but adjust when needed so they have a chance.  And for all educational staff, please remember it is hard to focus on school when your basic needs (food, shelter and safety) have not been met.

We can’t always control what happens outside of school, so we have to make our campuses safe, loving environments where kids feel welcomed.

Please remember that most small communities have a church or central locations where you can donate items or refer families in need.  The links below are resources for students or families in need.




The Data Dilemma


As a Diagnostician I use data all the time.  Best practice dictates that decisions about students, such as goals, testing and placement, are made based on data.  I know realistically we sometimes fall short and don’t always collect the “best” data, but ultimately we have to have something to support all decisions made.

Now while I use the data, I’m usually not the one collecting it.  It is usually a teacher or parent that I’m asking to collect data for me.  This is probably the main reason teachers turn the other way and RUN when they see me coming.  Academic data is pretty straightforward.  We look at grades, class tests and work, benchmarks, and yes that oh-so-popular state assessment.  (If you haven’t figured it out, I’m not a fan of the state assessment in Texas.  But I’ll keep that soapbox for another post.)

If we want to look at an academic area that we don’t have data for it is usually pretty easy for the teacher to get it.  Let’s say I need data on reading fluency for a 4th grade student.  It wouldn’t be hard for the students Reading teacher to measure her fluency and get me the results.  If we are looking at data over a certain period of time we may measure reading fluency once a week for six or nine week.  The point is a teacher usually knows what to do to obtain academic data.

But data on behavior is sometimes a little trickier.  Let’s say we want to get a child to stay in his seat during class.  We would need to start with a baseline of how often he’s out of his seat.  This is a frequency measure.  That one is pretty easy, keep tally marks for how many times you have to redirect the student to his seat.  You might even keep the tally marks in a sheet broken up in time segments, like the one you see when you click HERE. This way you can tell if the out of seat behavior is worse during a certain time of day as well as get a general measure of the behavior.

But lets say you have a student who is having “violent outburst”.  What kind of data do you need to create a plan for this behavior?

Before I look at this question I want to explain the two types of data.  In my option data can be put into two categories, statistical (or something you can graph) and analytical (a narrative of events).  Statistical data would be time, location, frequency, duration, intensity or anything that you can graph.  Analytical data or notes are a narrative account of what happened.   They are useful in completing the ABC’s of behavior (antecedents, behavior and consequence; these will be discussed in a later post.)

Now, back to the student having “violent outburst”.  First define what a violent outburst is; is he hurting himself or others if so how, is he destroying property, if so how?  Answer all the “common sense” questions first.   Then look at gathering the needed data.  You might want to keep a chart with the day/time, duration and intensity.  This would help you figure out if one day or time of day is more prone to outburst than another.  It will also help define how long and how sever the outburst are.   If the child is throwing chairs and breaking furniture for thirty minutes at a time you may need to start by reducing the duration and intensity of the outburst.  (Ideas for how to do that will be discussed in later post, remember this is just the data collection stage.)

The point is to implement an effective plan for modifying behavior you must have a grasp of what it is you want to modify.  To do this you need data.  The trick is to figure out what you’re looking for and how you want to measure it.  To help with this I’m linking some data collection sheets and graphing information that was shared with me during a workshop at the Region 14 service center. Click the link below:

Graphing made easy

Accommodations vs. Modifications What’s the difference?


I found a podcast that discusses the differences between an accommodation and a modification and why it’s important for not only teachers, but also parents and students to know the difference.   For the purpose of this post I’m focusing on only the difference between the two.  Click the link below to visit the podcast.

**I tried to make that a one word hyperlink but it wouldn’t work, remember this is my first blog 🙂 **

To sum it up Dr. Lindy Crawford of the Professional Advisory Board at the National Center for Learning Disabilities stated that,

“Accommodations are instructional or test adaptations. They allow the student to demonstrate what he or she knows without fundamentally changing the target skill that’s being taught in the classroom or measured in testing situations. Accommodations do not reduce learning or performance expectations that we might hold for students. More specifically, they change the manner or setting in which information is presented or the manner in which students respond. But they do not change the target skill or the testing construct.”

When she says, “target skill” she is referring to the TEKS. Which is the standard that guides the curriculum in Texas.    She went on to discuss five basic types of accommodations.

Timing. For example, giving a student extended time to complete a task or a test item.

 Flexible scheduling. For example, giving a student two days instead of one day to complete a project.

  Accommodated presentation of the material, meaning material is presented to the student in a fashion that’s different from a more traditional fashion.

 Setting, which includes things like completing the task or test in a quiet room or in a small group with other students.

Response accommodation, which means having the student respond perhaps orally or through a scribe.

Dr. Crawford gave this definition for modification,

“Modifications actually do change that target skill or the construct of interest. They often reduce learning expectations or affect the content in such a way that what is being taught or tested is fundamentally changed.”

Now if you teach in the state of Texas you know that even if a child receives a modified state assessment (STAAR-M) the content of the test is not “fundamentally” changed.  But the content might be “fundamentally” changed in the classroom to meet the need of the individual student.

We know that every child must be exposed to the TEKS, but if you have a student working under a modified curriculum (which they must to take a STAAR-M) then what they are responsible for mastering should (at least in theory) change.

So in short, and without starting an angry debate over our wonderful state assessment, I just wanted to remind everyone before school begins that an accommodation helps a child meet the same expectations as the rest of the class and a modification changes those expectations to meet the child’s needs.

NOTE: The podcast goes into more detail and list three problems (in the opinion of Dr. Crawford) with confusing modifications and accommodations.  For more on this topic look for future post on STAAR accommodations.



“We all learn to respond to incentives, negative and positive, from the outset of life. If you toddle over to the hot stove and touch it, you burn a finger. But if you bring home straight A’s from school, you get a new bike. If you are spotted picking your nose in class, you get ridiculed. But if you make the basketball team, you move up the social ladder…

An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad thing. But most incentives don’t come about organically. Someone — an economist or a politician or a parent — has to invent them.”- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

This exert from chapter one of Freakonomics, does a great job to describe incentives as well as why they work.  The second part is particularly true for school; teachers have to “invent” the incentive.  School isn’t a natural incentive for all students.  Some kids don’t care about making good grades and even if they have the ability they don’t see the need for a college education.  Therefore we have to provide incentives to get the results we want.  This is a change in thinking from the day when teachers expected kids to come to school ready and willing to learn, which was considered to be the students job.  Well now more than ever it is the teachers job to motivate, and yes in some cases even bribe (with an incentive), kids to come to school and do their best.

So if you have the not-so-motivated student in your room and need some ideas for new incentives try this link for 100 free rewards.  Remember you “invent” the incentive, so make it something you are willing to stick with.

100free rewards

Potty Training and PBIS


PBIS or Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, is a concept that is showing up in schools across Texas.   According to Dr. Rob Horner of the University of Oregon Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (, The purpose of PBIS is to “make schools more effective learning environments for students”.

It is not a curriculum, but an adjustment in the social culture of the campus or district that leads to a positive learning environment.

Ok so that may sound complicated, but in fact the concept is simple and can be explained by using a potty training analogy.  (Yes that says potty training.  I spent part of my summer potty training a two-year old, which led me to recognize the similarities.)

As a new parent I wasn’t sure where to start with the big potty training challenge.  So I did some research.  Everything said to start by talking it up, then offer a reward and stick to it.  So I spent time talking up how great it is to be a “big boy”.  We went and bought a special potty and cool underwear.  I demonstrated the process over and over again.  Then the big day came and with great anticipation I put my child in training underwear and we starting POTTY TRAINING.  Then, my not-quite-two year old,  proceeded to pee all over my house for the next two days.  I just knew I had started to soon and this wasn’t going to stick.  But being a hard-headed person (and not wanting to admit I was a potty training failure) I continue working on the training, rewarding anything that resembled success and staying calm during the set backs. (Well, I stayed calm around my kid.  Secretly I was on the phone with my mom constantly discussing why he wouldn’t pee in the potty).  Just when I started to feel like I could not take another puddle in my floor, he started to get the hang of it.  Now that doesn’t mean he’s perfect.  He still has accidents, but overall his learned the concept.

This isn’t a parenting blog; so let me tie this to PBIS.  This is my comparison based on how I understand PBIS and it’s watered down version.  Basically I want to cover the overall concept, not specifics.  Just like to prep and teach the skill of toileting, you have to prep and teach the skills that go with good behavior.  You don’t just put on underwear and tell a kid to use the toilet, right?

Set up universal rules throughout the campus or district and teach them to the kids.  What does respect look like in the class, in the lunchroom and in the hall.  Demonstrate what you want them to do and let them practice.  Just like with potty training it takes some time for students to learn the rules and expectations. (These need to be universal throughout the school)  Different web site claim you need to teach rules through direct teaching and practice for anywhere from a week to three weeks at the beginning of the school year.  It may take longer the first year you start this and with younger students.   The time line may vary, but the hard fact is you MUST DIRECTLY teach what you want the kid to do.  Don’t be ambiguous, show them how to raise their hand, walk down the hall and line up to go to recess.  The key with PBIS is that the same rules and language are used school wide!

With potty training I found that an incentive, like M&M’s, was successful.  Students need the same thing in school.  After all teachers receive an incentive, a paycheck.  So set up a universal reward system for good behavior.  The idea, like with potty training, is that you want to get them to do the right thing before you have to clean up a “mess”.  Think of an office referral as being the equivalent of your toddler pooping in the middle of your living room.  Both are messes that take up your time.   With both if you don’t address the problem you will end up with a bigger mess in the end.  It case that was hard to follow, if you try to ignore bad behavior your classroom will stink as bad as the living room with poop in it.

So, in both cases you would rather reward the good then have to clean up the bad.  The idea according to Horner is that in most schools about 80% of student will follow the rules without an incentive, 15% are on the fence and 5% will spend considerable time in the office.  (The saying for administrator goes “5% of the population will take up 95% of your time”) With PBIS in place that middle 15% will be more likely to join the 80% who follow the rules.

Now PBIS as a whole is an environment change made though the teaching of rules and offering incentives to follow the rules.  But it is designed as a three-tiered model. Tier 1 being the teaching of school wide rules and positive behavior reward. There may also be a school wide program like CHAMPS used.   Tier 2 may include interventions like check in/check out, peer groups and social skills training.  This would only be for students who did not make progress after Tier 1 was implemented.  The 15% who still didn’t follow the rules. Tier 3 may include things like one-on-one counseling and community based wrap around services.  This would be some within that top 5%.  But these are ideas that will be discussed in other posts.

PBIS is an environment change that is universal and includes teaching and modeling rules, providing incentives for good behavior and support for students who don’t catch on right a way.  Good behavior is a skill, just like using the toilet.  It isn’t always fun to teach, and there are usually some messes, but once students catch on it will affect their lives forever.

NOTE: ok I can see how this analogy may make more sense to me because I’ve recently been potty training.  But I hope it got you to start thinking about PBIS and behavior supports.  Look for future post on incentive and Tiers 2&3.

Class Dojo


I went to the Texas Behavior Conference in Houston this year and came back with a really cool FREE resource.  Class Dojo is a website where teachers can monitor and reward positive behavior.  Here’s a link

To get set up you go to the website and click the “teachers try it right now” button.  You can set up an account in about ten minutes.  The idea is simple.  You give every kid in your class an avatar/with their name and as they demonstrate positive behavior you click there name and give them a point.  The program then sends of a 1 sec sound and flashes the kids name on the computer screen.  (you could project this onto a smart board or on the wall with a projector for the class to see).  If you are using your computer you can give points from your ipad or smart phone.

There is also a place to put in your class rules and you can take points away for negative behavior.  The program will also give a 1 sec sound and display the kids name (there is also a place in setting where you can turn off the public display for negative behaviors**)  One teacher  I’ve shared this with has pointed out that this would be a good way to keep up with class discipline.  It can be used for that, but PLEASE remember that this is suppose to be a POSITIVE support.  So if you use it to track negative  behaviors too be sure you are giving out plenty of positive comments also.  Otherwise the child’s behavior graph will be very negative.

At the end of every class you can pull up a graph for the entire class, or per student, and see the percent of positive comments. You could then offer rewards based on this percent.

This program is a FREE positive incentive for kids.  There are a variety of ways it could be applied.  Check it out and see what you can do with it, after all it’s FREE. 🙂

Hello world!


This is my first post!  I’m hoping to use this blog as a way to communicate and share ideas about educational topics.  I will be posting information on accommodations/modifications, RTI, Cross Battery Assessment,  the Special Ed referral process, academic and behavior interventions and more.   I hope to get good feed back from other educational professionals and parents so that we can discuss issues, and find solutions to problems.  I also want this to be a resource for teachers and parents when it comes to finding information on a Special Ed. related issue.  That sounds like a really big task once a put it out there.  Please remember this is my first blog, so be patient and hopefully this will be a great experience!