Monday, February 1, 2016

Amazing Book Sale! For Teachers and School Staff

Watch Your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code (eBook Format) is now on Kindle Countdown Deal. Hurry! Regular price returns February 4th, 2016.

To buy on Amazon, click here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Free eBook Promotion: All Behavior is Communication

All Behavior is Communication Revised Second Edition: How To Give Feedback, Criticism, and Corrections That Improve Behavior (Kindle Edition) is now FREE on my Amazon Store. Hurry! This is a three days only offer (January 14, 2016 - January 16, 2016). Get your free copy here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Project IDEAL: Informing And Designing Education For All Learners

Looking for information to share with my readers, I came across this extraordinary website. Project IDEAL is part of a teacher preparation program intended to equip teachers to work with students with disabilities. They have three main sections (called Modules): (1) Disability Categories (background information), (2) IDEAL in Action (ideas to apply to real classroom situations) and a (3) Video Library. I found this website extremely informative, and highly recommend it. You can find Project IDEAL here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Watch Your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code- For Teachers

Watch Your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code by Carmen Y. Reyes, The Psycho-Educational Teacher, is a comprehensive resource (360+ pages) of skilled language-based interventions aimed at improving classroom behavior by improving the way teachers and students relate, placing special emphasis on those strained interactions with students exhibiting habitually disruptive patterns of behavior. Founded on theory and principles in interpersonal communication this interactional approach is rooted in the belief that teachers’ ways of talking play a crucial role in influencing how students behave. In other words, students’ behaviors are a reflection of both the words that teachers use and how we say those words to children. A core belief in interpersonal communication is that high expectations that are goal-oriented influence positive behaviors while low expectations lacking a behavior or academic goal influence negative behaviors. This innovative resource is a 10-chapter book divided into three core parts:
  • Part One: The Basics (Chapters 1-3) On this introductory section the essential elements of interpersonal communication are explained, including channels and styles. Chapter Two details four interpersonal communication theories with high relevance to the classroom setting; Chapter Three introduces the two main components: receptive side or listening and expressive side or speaking, including full lists of both listening and speaking skills.
  • Part Two: Interpersonal Communication is Everything… And Everywhere! (Chapters 4-7) This second part analyzes popular behavior-change procedures from the unique perspective of therapeutic communication (Chapter Four). Among these enhanced approaches we find: assertiveness, optimism, rational thinking and talking, goal-oriented language, social problem solving, and solution-oriented messages. Chapter Five gives us guidelines for becoming an effective communicator focusing on language skills such as rapport and empathy. The section ends with an analysis of nonverbal communication in the classroom including ways in which teachers can align verbal and nonverbal language to send supportive and encouraging messages to students.
  • Part Three: Speech Acts (Chapters 8-10) On this closing part, teachers learn how to manipulate different parts of a sentence (e.g. nouns, verbs, adjectives) to modify the meaning of our messages (Chapter Eight). Chapters Nine and Ten are all about disciplinary speech acts and how our messages to students can evolve from flat and short-term (short-lived) to transformative and long-term (i.e. discipline that the child internalizes or self-discipline). Using unparalleled disciplinary language such as suggestions and hidden commands coupled with child guidance speech acts such as: interpreting, reflecting, reframing, decoding, challenging, and confronting teachers will be able to turn-around day-to-day interactions with tough to reach and noncompliant students from antagonistic to collaborative problem-solving. Our language makes the difference!


Watch your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code- To preview this book on Amazon.com, click here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Memory Strategies for Low-Achieving Students

These guidelines are from my 7-page article, Memory Strategies to Help Students Remember what they See and Hear in the Classroom. To read the complete article, click on the link at the bottom.

  1. Short memorizing rehearsals are more productive than longer ones. Make sure that each practice is no longer than 30 minutes at a time.
  2. It is better to have five weekly rehearsals of 30 minutes each than one longer weekly practice (e.g. three or more hours in a row).
  3. Memory improves when students use multiple sensory pathways to learn the material. For example, when students are learning visual material, they need to elaborate verbally on what they are seeing. On the other hand, if students are trying to consolidate verbal material, for example, from the history textbook, memorization is easier if they draw a diagram or write smaller bits of information on index cards that they can study visually.
  4. When the learning material is both meaningful and organized is always easier to remember. When studying, children need to use organization aids such as timelines, outlines, bullet lists, flowcharts, cause and effect diagrams, and/or comparing and contrasting diagrams.
  5. Practice children in highlighting, outlining, and summarizing important information.
  6. Students can remember definitions better if they use their own words and/or paraphrase, rather than trying to memorize exactly what the teacher said or what they read in the book.
  7. Memorization improves when students think of something that connects with the new information, and link the new concept, topic or theme to what they already know.
  8. Teach students to think of examples of what they are trying to remember. The more connections they make, the more details they add to the concept or topic, and the more examples they can think of, the better their chances of memorizing and learning the information.
  9. Teach students to group the information, placing similar items together. For example, from a grocery list with 23 items, the child creates the fruits group, the vegetables group, and the meats group. Students need to know how many items they need to remember (23) and how many groups of items are in the list (3). It is harder to remember 23 isolated items from the longer list, but the same items are easier to recall if we group them in three groups, e.g. eight meats, six vegetables, and nine fruits.

 You can read the full article here.

What is Learned Helplessness?

Learned helplessness is the belief that our own behavior does not control outcomes or results. For example, a child that believes she is in charge of the outcome thinks, “If I study hard for this test, I’ll get a good grade,” but a learned helpless child thinks, “No matter how hard I study for this test, I’ll always get a bad grade.” In school, learned helplessness relates to poor grades and underachievement, and to behavior difficulties. Students who are repeatedly exposed to school failure; for example, children with a learning disability, are particularly prone to develop learned helplessness. As a result of repeated academic failure, learned helpless children doubt their own abilities and doubt that they can do anything to overcome their school difficulties. As a consequence, they decrease their effort, particularly when facing difficult tasks, which leads to more school failure and learned helplessness.

On my 6-page article, When Children Fail in School: What Teachers and Parents Need to Know about Learned Helplessness, I discuss in-depth this very important topic, including a comprehensive list of characteristics of learned helpless children. The optimistic and pessimistic explanatory styles, as introduced by Seligman et al., are discussed. The article also explores the importance of strategy retraining, attribution retraining, and the belief that strategic effort increases ability and skills; all instrumental in helping children overcome learned helplessness. To read this article in full, click here.

Make Your Words Count: Encouraging Statements to Focus Children on Effort

Encouraging words are words that aim at building children’s self-confidence or trust in their own abilities to master a skill and to solve their own problems. Children need to understand that it is okay to make mistakes; trial and error are part of the learning process, and this is how we master new and challenging skills. Parents and teachers can encourage children to remain optimistic and positive in their ability to learn new skills or to improve current skills. When the child makes a mistake, simply shifting his/her focus from failure (problem-oriented) to hopefulness (solution-oriented) can do wonders in improving the child’s attitude and self-confidence. We can help children see personal or academic errors and mistakes as both external (not as a personality trait or defining who they are) and controllable; that is, something that it can be improved through effort and using specific learning strategies. We help children focus on effort by consistently noticing and appreciating the things they do to better themselves.
Parents and teachers also encourage children by helping them shift the focus away from causes (why the problem is happening) and toward goals, or where they are headed; that is, focusing children on what they want and what they need to do (steps) to get what they want. Our encouraging role resembles the role of a sports coach, with as little criticism as possible but with adequate supervision, detailed directions (the how to or procedure), and plenty of support. Like a sports coach, we identify and build on the child’s strengths (e.g. the child has a good sense of humor, he is good with numbers, is organized, and has a good memory), helping the child identify how that unique set of strengths can help in acquiring a specific skill or in reaching a particular goal. Examples of encouraging statements that focus children on effort are:
  • That’s a great effort. Don’t worry about the small mistake.
  • Keep trying. I know you can work this frustrating problem out.
  • I know you will figure out a good way to do this next time.
  • Keep at it; I know you will figure this out. Do you want my help?
  • It is okay to make mistakes, we all do. What do you think you learned from it?

Effort Praise: A Motivational Strategy for Reluctant and Apathetic Students

Parents, teachers and tutors know well that apathetic and unmotivated children represent a problem of almost epidemic proportions in our classrooms, in particular, at the highest-grade levels. The most important question to answer is what a teacher or a tutor can do to motivate a reluctant, apathetic, and/or helpless learner. This is no simple question with an easy answer. One motivational strategy that can help is the use of effort praise. In few words, this is how this strategy works:

Minimize the child’s mistakes and praise his effort. Help the child understand that errors and mistakes are part of the learning process, and they are necessary so that learning can take place. It is important that adults pay attention to small changes, so that we can praise those first signs that indicate movement toward the child’s goal (for instance, when we see the child focused and completing the task). Some examples of effort praise are:
  • Your math is improving every day.
  • I’m really glad that you _____.
  • You are really concentrating today.
  • The important thing is that you tried your best.
  • I admire how much effort you put on this essay.
  • This is the neatest job I have seen you doing.
  • I love seeing you doing your class work.

Focus on strengths and assets rather than on weaknesses and errors. We can praise the part of the task that the child has already gotten right, minimize errors, and then we tell the child what she needs to do (the steps and strategies) to complete her task successfully.

Additional Guidelines:
  1. Make sure the child clearly sees the connection between his own effort and school success. Children who understand this important effort-achievement connection are more likely to respond to difficult tasks and failure with less stress, less frustration and more positive expectations about the outcome of the event.
  2. Make sure that you define effort correctly, telling the child that effort is spending effective and strategic time on the learning task. Just trying harder or wasting time doing random activities that are not working is not effective effort. Effective and strategic effort focuses on using learning strategies and procedures, that is, trying hard in a particular way is what leads to success. When the strategy or procedure that the child is using is not working, we tell him or her to try a different strategy or procedure. Teaching children to make strategic effort attributions helps them see failure and academic difficulties as problem solving situations in which the search for a better strategy to use becomes the focus. When we train an apathetic, unmotivated, and/or helpless student in how to use strategic effort attributions, we can weaken the negative perception that lack of ability is what causes failure (e.g. “I’m dumb! I’ll never learn this!”); most learning problems are rooted in either children not using learning strategies, or applying an inefficient learning strategy for the specific skill that they are learning. The child simply needs to find a better learning strategy to solve that particular problem.
  3. Teach the child to see academic errors and mistakes as her cue to change the learning strategy she is currently using.
  4. Explicitly tell and show the child how to manage failure and setbacks in a constructive and strategic way, for example, you can say, “This is not working. What is another way that you can do this?” Alternatively, say, “What is another strategy that you can use?”
To better understand the full impact of low motivation on learning, you can read my article, How Children Learn: Understanding Motivation

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Teaching Strategies for Learned Helpless Students

These guidelines were selected from my 9-page article, “When Children Fail in School Part Two: Teaching Strategies for Learned Helpless Students.” To read the complete article, click on the link at the bottom.
  • Make sure the child clearly sees the connection between his own effort and school success. Children who perceive this connection are more likely to respond to difficult tasks and failure with less frustration and with positive expectations about the outcome of the event.
  • Make sure that you define effort correctly, telling the student that effort is spending effective and strategic time on the learning task. Just trying harder or spending time doing random activities that are not working is not effective effort. Effective and strategic effort focuses on using learning strategies and procedures, that is, trying hard in a particular way is what leads to success. When the strategy or procedure that the child is using is not working, we tell him or her to try a different strategy or procedure. Teaching children to make strategic effort attributions help them see failure and academic difficulties as problem solving situations in which the search for a better strategy to use becomes their focus. When we teach an apathetic, unmotivated, and/or helpless student in using strategic effort attributions, we can weaken the child’s perception that his lack of ability is the problem, helping the child understand that the problem lies in using an ineffective learning strategy or procedure. The child simply needs to find a better strategy to solve that particular problem.
  • Teach the child to see academic errors and mistakes as her cue to change the learning strategy she is using.
  • Model to the student how to manage failure and setbacks in a constructive and strategic way, for example, you can say, “This is not working. What is another way that I can do this?” Alternatively, you can say, “What is another strategy that I can try?”

To read the complete article, click here.