Friday, June 30, 2017

The North American School Year is Coming to an End

Well here we go again.  The year is coming to an end in Canada and United States.  Summer holidays and some fun holidays to de-stress and unwind.  Start to unwind immediately.  Don't wait until your a few weeks into your holidays to start to de-stress and take it easy.  Let this year go and don't even think about next year YET!  You deserve some time to yourself and you need to take it or you will go into the next year still feeling negative about your last year.  You can't change anything now so do not dwell on the past.  Look forward to your future.

Awesome article by Judy Willis who is a neurologist working with the effects of stress.  Have a peek.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Now This is Hilarious

I came across this hilarious blog that talks about problems only teachers would understand.  It is very funny and so true.  Have a bit of a laugh on your beautiful Monday morning.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned or at Least Monitored More Closely

From the Blog of Chris Rowan a Pediatric Occupational Therapist:

Very interesting read... The effect of devices on children's brains are not really well documented at this point but there are some very interesting points being made by several neuroscientists, doctors and educators.  Maybe it is time to sit up and listen to what is being said.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012). Handheld devices (cell phones, tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased the accessibility and usage of technology, especially by very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’m calling on parents, teachers and governments to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years. Following are 10 research-based reasons for this ban. Please visit to view the Zone’in Fact Sheet for referenced research.

Rapid brain growth

Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be associated with executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g. tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010)

Delayed Development

Technology use restricts movement, which can result in delayed development. One in three children now enter school developmentally delayed, negatively impacting literacy and academic achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement enhances attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008). Use of technology under the age of 12 years is detrimental to child development and learning (Rowan 2010).

Epidemic Obesity

TV and video game use correlates with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children who are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). One in four Canadian, and one in three U.S. children are obese (Tremblay 2011). 30% of children with obesity will develop diabetes, and obese individuals are at higher risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely shortening life expectancy (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). Largely due to obesity, 21st century children may be the first generation many of whom will not outlive their parents (Professor Andrew Prentice, BBC News 2002).

Sleep Deprivation

60% of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage, and 75% of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are detrimentally impacted (Boston College 2012).

Mental Illness 

Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).


Violent media content can cause child aggression (Anderson, 2007). Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today’s media. “Grand Theft Auto V” portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture and mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows. The U.S. has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk due to causal impact on child aggression (Huesmann 2007). Media reports increased use of restraints and seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled aggression.

Digital dementia

High speed media content can contribute to attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004, Small 2008). Children who can’t pay attention can’t learn.


As parents attach more and more to technology, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction (Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile 2009).

Radiation emission

In May of 2011, the World Health Organization classified cell phones (and other wireless devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission (WHO 2011). James McNamee with Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary warning stating “Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can’t say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child.” (Globe and Mail 2011). In December, 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health recommend that based on new research, radio frequency exposure should be reclassified as a 2A (probable carcinogen), not a 2B (possible carcinogen). American Academy of Pediatrics requested review of EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing three reasons regarding impact on children (AAP 2013).


The ways in which children are raised and educated with technology are no longer sustainable (Rowan 2010). Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology. A team-based approach is necessary and urgent in order to reduce the use of technology by children. Please reference below slide shows on under “videos” to share with others who are concerned about technology overuse by children.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Compliance Strategies

One of the issues teachers regularly discuss are students who are non-compliant in the classroom.  These students have a tremendous impact on classroom dynamics and outcomes for other students and can be frustrating for all the people involved.  So what do we do?  The biggest impact that teachers can have with students who are non-compliant typically occur when a relationship has been developed between the teacher and the student.  This however can take many months if not years to develop.  Here are a few tips from Vanderbilt University to apply to your classroom management policies:

Tip Sheet: Compliance Strategies

The use of positive behavior supports (PBS) is mandated by federal law (IDEA, 2004). Within PBS, there are three tiers of support with corresponding goals and activities:
(Lewis & Sugai, 1999)
o   Tier 1 - Prevent academic and behavior problems: school wide academic & behavior interventions;
o   Tier 2 - Prevent the development of more serious problems and improve problem behavior: target interventions for students not responding to Tier 1;
o   Tier 3 - Decrease impact of antisocial behavior on a student’s daily functioning: develop individualized intervention to meet the unique needs of student.
Using effective compliance strategies can facilitate the goals at all three tiers of PBS, especially at Tiers 1 and 2.

Give Effective Commands

Definition of Noncompliance: There are four types of noncompliance (Walker et al., 2004)
·         Passive noncompliance: student simply does not to perform requested behavior but is not overtly noncompliant (simply ignores directive – not angry or hostile).
·         Simple refusal: student acknowledge the direction but indicates via words or gestures that he/she does not intend to comply – not angry unless command persists or there are adult attempts to force the issues.
·         Direct defiance: student displays hostility, anger, overt resistance and attempts to intimidate.
·         Negotiation: student attempts to bargain, compromise; proposes alternative solutions.
By addressing noncompliance at the early stage, teachers can prevent the escalation of more serious behaviors.

Strategies (Walker et al., 2004)
·         Only give as many commands as needed (decreased compliance occurs with increases in the number of commands given)
·         Obtain student attention and eye contact
·         Use more “initiating: (or “start”) commands versus “terminating (or “stop”) commands
·         Deliver one directive or command at a time – for tasks with multiple steps, give a separate command for each step
·         Use clear, concise, and specific language (“alpha” commands)
·         Allow time for student to comply
·         Only give the command two times – if not followed after second time, provide consequence for noncompliance
·         Give direction from a distance of three feet.
·         Use a matter-of-fact and nonemotional tone of voice (do not yell, plead or threaten)
·         Reinforce compliance!
Literature to support the use of effective commands (Neef et al., 1983; Walker, 1995; Walker, et al., 2004; Walker & Walker, 1991)

Use Precision Requests

Definition: A method for delivering teacher directions to prompt compliance and consistently follow up noncompliance (Jenson & Reavis, 1997).

Steps (Jenson, & Reavis, 1997)
1)      1st request for compliance using “Please"  and characteristics of effective commands
I use the technique of "thanking the student"  rather than starting with the "Please"  You have to find your own method that works for you.  
2)      Wait 5 seconds – if there is compliance: REINFORCE!
3)      Noncompliance: Repeat request using signal words: You need to …”
4)      Compliance: REINFORCE!
5)      Noncompliance: mild preplanned negative consequence (e.g., loss of opportunity to earn token for that time period)

Evidence: DeMartini-Scully et al., 2000; Kehle et al., 2000; Mackay et al., 2001; Musser et al., 2001; Neville & Jenson, 1984
Note: Consider using Precision Requests in combination with other strategies as part of a multicomponent intervention (e.g., Kehle et al., 2000)

Engage in Active Supervision

Definition – “those behaviors displayed by supervisors designed to encourage more appropriate student behavior and to discourage rule violations" (Lewis, Sugai, & Colvin, 2000; p. 110)

Implementation (Lewis, et al., 2000)
·         Monitor large, common areas (e.g., gym, hallway, playground)
·         Move and interact with students
·         Scan: correct inappropriate behavior and reinforce appropriate behavior

Evidence: Colvin et al., 1997; De Pry & Sugai, 2002; Lewis et al., 2000; Schuldheisz & van der Mars, 2001

Offer Choices

Definition: Offering a student two or more options and allowing student to independently select an options

·         Choice can provide students an opportunity to have control over their environments
·         Choice can be used to encourage and support appropriate behaviors and academic growth in a variety of ways for students without disabilities and with high incidence and severe disabilities:
o   Choice of routine activity and steps within activity (Dibley & Lim, 1999)
o   Choice of academic task (Dunlap et al., 1994) 
o   Choice of task sequence for students with EBD (Jolivette et al., 2001)
o   Choice of math intervention for general education students  (Carson & Eckert, 2003)
o   Choice of task and reinforcement for students with severe disabilities (Cosden et al., 1995)
·         Also see Morgan (2006) for classroom application.

Evidence: see above

Use High Probability Request Sequence (HPRS)

Definition (Oliver & Skinner, 2003):
·         The presentation of a series of directions that a student is likely to perform  (i.e., high-p command) delivered immediately before a request that a student is less likely to perform (i.e., low-p command)
o   “High-p” teacher commands  = 80% or better compliance
o   “Low-p” teacher commands = 40-50% or less
·         Using a series of high-p requests to build behavioral momentum in order to increase the probability of compliance with the low-p request
·         The high probability request sequence establishes a learning history

Steps (Davis, 1995)
1)      Deliver a series of three to five high-p commands at a rapid pace
2)      Provide praise for each performance of the high-p command
3)      Deliver a low-p command
4)      Provide praise for the performance of the low-p request

Example: A teacher can ask a student to give me five, touch your nose, clap your hands (high-p commands) just before directing the student to get out her textbook (low-p command).

Demonstrated effectiveness across academic settings (inclusion and special education classrooms) and across different disabilities, including students with severe disabilities as well as young children without disabilities (e.g., Lee, 2005; Davis et al., 1993; Davis & Brady, 1994; Davis & Reichle, 1996; Jung et al., 2008; Wehby & Hollahan, 2000).


Carson, P. M., & Eckert, T. L. (2003). An experimental analysis of mathematics instructional
components: Examining the effects of student- selected versus empirically selected interventions. Journal of Behavioral Education, 12, 35-54.

Colvin, G., Sugai, G., Good, R. H., III, & Lee, Y-Y. (1997). Using active supervision and
precorrection to improve transition behaviors in an elementary school. School Psychology Quarterly, 12, 344-361.

Cosden, M., Gannon, C., & Haring, T. G. (1995). Teacher-control versus student-control over
choice of tasks and reinforcement for students with severe behavior problems. Journal of Behavioral Education, 5, 11-27.

Davis, C. A. (1995). Peer as behavior change agents for preschoolers with behavioral disorders.
         Preventing School Failure, 39(4), 4-9.

Davis, C. A., & Brady, M. P. (1993). Expanding the utility of behavioral momentum with young
         children: Where we’ve been, where we need to go. Journal of Early Intervention, 17, 211-

Davis, C. A., Brady, M. P., Hamilton, R., McEvoy, M. A., & Williams, R. E. (1994). Effects of
         high-probability requests on the social interactions of young children with severe
         disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 619-637.

Davis, C. A., & Reichle, J. (1996).Variant and invariant high probability requests: Increasing
appropriate behaviors in children with emotional-behavioral disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 29, 471–482.

De Martini-Scully, D., Bray, M. A., & Kehle, T. J. (2000). A packaged intervention to reduce
         disruptive behaviors in general education students. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 149–156.

De Pry, R. L., & Sugai, G. (2002). The effect of active supervision and pre-correction on minor
behavioral incidents in a sixth grade general education classroom. Journal of Behavioral Education, 11, 255-264.

Dunlap, G., DePerezel, M., Clarke, S., Wilson, D., Suzanne, W., White, R., et al. (1994). Choice
making to promote adaptive behavior for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 505-518.

Dunlap, G., DePerezel. M., Clarke, S., Wilson, D., Suzanne, W., White, R., et al. (1994). Choice
making to promote adaptive behavior for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 505-518.

Jenson, W. R., & Reavis, H. K. (1997). Contracting to enhance motivation. In H. K. Reavis et al.,
(Eds.), Best practices: Behavioral and educational strategies for teachers (pp. 65-71). Longmont, CA: Sopris West.

Jolivette, K., Wehby, J., Canale, J., & Massey, N. G. (2001). Effects of choice-making
opportunities on the behavior of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 26, 131-145.

Jung, S., Sainato, D. M., & Davis, C. A. (2008). Using high-probability request
         sequences to increase social interactions in young children with autism, Journal of Early
         Intervention, 30(3), 163-187.

Kehle, T. M., Bray, M. A., Theodore, L., & Jenson, W. R. (2000). A multi-component
         intervention designed to reduce disruptive classroom behavior. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 474-481.

Lee. D. L. (2005). A quantitative synthesis of applied research on behavioral momentum.
         Exceptionality. 13. 141-154.

Lewis, T., Sugai, G., & Colvin, G. (2000). The effects of pre-correction and active supervision on
the recess behavior of elementary students. Education and Treatment of Children, 23(2), 109-121.

Mackay, S., McLaughlin, T. F., Weber, K., & Derby K. M. (2001). The use of precision requests
         to decrease noncompliance in the home and neighborhood: A case study. Child and Family
         Behavior Therapy, 23(3), 41-50.

Morgan, P. (2006). Increasing task engagement using preference or choice-making: Some
         behavioral and methodological factors affecting Their efficacy as classroom interventions.
         Remedial and Special Education 27(3), 176-187. 

Musser, E. H., Bray, M. A., Kehle, T. J., & Jenson, W. R. (2001). Reducing disruptive behaviors
in students with serious emotional disturbance. Journal of School Psychology Review, 30, 294-304.

Musser, E. H., Bray, M. A., Kehle, T. J., & Jenson, W. R. (2001).  Employing precision requests
and antecedent strategies to educe disruptive behavior in students with social and emotional disorders:  A replication.  School Psychology Review. 30, 294-304.

Neef, N. A., Shafer, M. S., Egel, A. L., Cataldo, M. F., & Parrish, J. M. (1983). The class
         specific effects of compliance training with “do” and “don’t” requests: Analogue
         analysis and classroom application. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 16, 81-99.

Neville, M. H., & Jenson, W. R. (1984). Precision commands and the “Sure I Will” program: A
quick and efficient compliance training sequence. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 6, 61-65.

Oliver, R. & Skinner, C. H. (2003). Applying behavioral momentum to increase
         compliance: Why Mrs. H. RRReved up the elementary students with the Hokey-Pokey.
         Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19, 75-94.

Schuldheisz, J.M., & van der Mars, H. (2001). Active supervision and students' physical activity in
         middle school physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 21, 75-90.

Walker, H. M. (1995). The acting out child: Coping with classroom disruption. Longmont, CA:
         Sopris West.

Walker, H. M., Ramsey, E.,  & Gresham, F. M. (2004). Antisocial behavior in school: Evidenced-
         based practices (2nd ed.). Belmont. CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. 

Walker, H, M., & Walker, J, (1991). Coping with noncompliance in the classroom: A positive
         approach for teachers. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Wehby, J, H., & Hollahan, M. S. (2000). Effects of" high-probability requests on the latency to
         initiate academic tasks. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33. 259-262.

Yeager, C., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1995). Use of a time-out ribbon and precision requests to
improve child compliance in the classroom: A case study. Child and Family Therapy, 17(4), 1-10.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Teacher Stress

It has been said that teaching is one of the most stressful jobs on earth.  It is due in part to the fact that teachers must interact in a positive way during the entire school day even if they aren't emotionally up to it.  Other professions typically have down time where they can re-group or just get away from people for awhile but teachers are "on" from the minute they walk into the school to the minute they leave.  This is with both peers and students.  Some people are quick to say that teachers shouldn't be stressed because they have all these holidays and work only from 8-3.  Until you have been in the classroom for a year, you really have no right to make a comment.  Try it.... see how you like it.

Being negative with our teachers is definitely not helpful.  If you are a parent of a child in school, remember the teacher is there to help your child succeed.  Your child may require a united front with the teacher not an aggressive approach with you against the teacher.  And teachers, parents are there to be supportive of their child.  Ask questions.  Find out as much information you can about the environment, the relationship, the parent, and don't make assumptions or judgements. Working together requires both parties to come together and teach the child discipline and boundaries.

Another extremely important factor to consider is the number of students in the classroom who may need extra time and attention and the lack of resources.  Teachers can only do so much with the resources they have.  The expectation that the teacher is responsible for "everything" the child does and accomplishes may be a lofty expectation.  Teaching over 25 students in a classroom requires the teacher to in some cases, plan and implement individual lessons and outcomes.  This can be extremely hard to accomplish if there are not sufficient resources in place.

Teacher stress is not good for ANYONE.  Help your teachers by providing them with support and compassion.  This will go a long way in retaining our teachers who are exceptional at their job but starting to feel burned out because of the judgements and scrutiny.  Teachers make sure that if you are feeling stressed that YOU do something about it.  You sometimes can't change your environment but you can change your reaction to it.  Do something different if it's not working for you.

1.  Meditate or find an exercise class that you enjoy
2.  Manage your marking and ask for assistance if you require it.
3.  Change your reaction to challenging students and peers.  You can't control them but you can control yourself.
4.  Seek out professional services or a mental health advisor or counsellor
5.  Keep your classroom free of chaos by organizing your desk and belongings.
6.  Take a sick/personal day if you need it to re-energize.
7.  Practice mindfulness


Flexible Classrooms

Setting up our classroom is so important to help engage our students, decrease impulsive behaviour, encourage growth and ensuring a secure s...