Spelling and writing, oh my! TAGteach saves the day.

TAGteach is so versatile

Not only does TAGteach help with behavior, you can also use it to help kids overcome learning obstacles.

Here are two examples of how people used TAGteach to help kids who were unhappy about completing their spelling and writing assignments. These were quick, spur-of-the-moment interventions, but they created great outcomes.

TAGteach, autism, ABA, positive reinforcementTAGteach and Spelling

Rosie G., a parent from the UK, has a lovely daughter who needed to practice her spelling. Rosie explains, “Sophie really didn’t want to practice her spelling [word]s and we were on the verge of a major tantrum but I tagged each ‘correct’ letter of each word and we got through it calmly.”

Example:  Spell “crisis.”  The tag point is: “Say letter.”

“C”      tag

“R”      tag

“I”       tag

“S”      tag

“I”       tag

“S”      tag

Great job Rosie and Sophie! The precise reinforcement of each correct letter told Sophie she was right! She experienced continuous success, reinforcement and praise. Her emotions changed from anger to calm.

TAGteach and Writing

A friend was working with a young girl with a developmental disability, who balked at writing four long sentences on a worksheet. The tutor calmly pulled out a tagger and tagged the student for every letter of every word she wrote in the workbook.

The tag point was: “Write letter.” For each letter written the tutor tagged the girl. After every ten tags she earned a ticket to trade in for treats or trinkets. The girl’s writing pace actually picked up and settled into a smooth, cheerful rhythm. Outcome: workbook exercises completed calmly and on time.

Conclusion

These two simple interventions show how TAGteach can quickly change a stressful situation into a calm situation. In each of these cases, the student was unhappy, upset or apprehensive about doing the work. With continuous support, success and a nice reinforcer at the end, both girls completed their assignments accurately and happily.

What is TAGteach?

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children (and adults) can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementCheck out the TAGteach International website.

Join the  TAGteach Yahoo group.

TAGteach taggers are available here.

See Martha’s book about TAGteach for Autism or ask a question  (with no obligation).

Sign up for my mailing list   to receive updates, new articles and free tips right in your inbox!

If you liked this post, please share it. Thank you!

How I taught my nonverbal child with autism to read

autism, reading, TAGteach, Direct Instruction, ABA

Reading — From dream to reality

I am the mother of a nonverbal boy with severe autism.

It was very important to me that my son be able to read:

  • I can accept that he has severe autism
  • I can accept that he is nonverbal
  • I could not accept that he would go through life not knowing how to read

It took me a long time and many hours of work. I made many mistakes. Eventually I succeeded. Here are the steps I used to teach my son to read:

  1. Make sure foundation skills are in place
  2. Use Direct Instruction reading programs
  3. Provide lots of supports and lots of opportunities to practice
  4. Use TAGteach to deliver precise, in-the-moment positive reinforcement for correct responses.

Step One: make sure foundation skills are in place

The skills a child with autism will need to begin reading instruction include the ability to sit at a table for at least 15-20 minutes and the ability to respond to questions or complete tasks (this is generally achieved through an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) or VB (Verbal Behavior) program).

During the pre-reading instruction, I focused on increasing the range of sounds my son could produce, and mastering as many labels of objects and actions as possible: such as cat, dog, house, running, sitting, sleeping and so forth.

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TAGteach Tale: Turning reading stress into reading success with TAGteach!

autism help, tagteach, direct instruction, reading A friend sent me this uplifting story about one of her students who is learning to read.  She introduced TAGteach in a recent session and her student’s performance soared.

A tired student

“I have been working with a young girl with intellectual disabilities and speech challenges. She is learning to read with the well-known Direct Instruction Corrective Reading Decoding program. Dani (not her real name) came in this week looking tired and dispirited, and struggled with the first few words in the Word Attack practice section.

Using TAGteach for reading practice

This time, instead of cajoling her, I pulled out a tagger and started reinforcing correct and timely responses. For example, we worked on the word “each.” She had to say the sound of the underlined letter combination “ch,” then read the entire word, “each.” After asking her the first question, “what sound?” I sat back and waited for her response. She did not respond so I turned my head slightly away and gazed at a wall. After a pause, I heard a soft “ch” sound. This earned Dani a prompt tag. I asked “what word” and she responded fairly rapidly with “each.”

Direct Instruction So it continued. She earned tags for prompt responses (within 5 seconds of the request), and after working through two or three rows of words, she was responding on cue. I glanced at her and noticed that she was also responding with a stronger tone of voice AND had a smile on her face! We ended up having a terrific reading session. She completed Word Attack in record time with no errors. Her oral reading fluency for the text passage shot up by 23 words per minute from the previous session.

 

Lots of tags = high rate of reinforcement … and joy!

She earned 124 tags in 50 minutes.  This translates into 2.5 experiences of positive reinforcement per minute! In real time, she was being reinforced about every 25 seconds, so that is a very high rate of reinforcement. With her 124 tags she earned 12 tokens (10 tags per token) which she happily exchanged for prizes from our Reward Bin. Way to go, TAGteach!”

TAGteach: Good for academic skills as well as functional behaviors

This remarkable story shows how tagging Dani’s responses transformed this reading session into a successful, joyful learning experience.  Many people are aware that TAGteach is a proven way to increase functional behaviors. It is also a marvelous way to increase academic behaviors.

What is TAGteach?

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

box clickers (1)Check out the TAGteach International website.

Join the free TAGteach listserve.

TAGteach taggers are available here.

See Martha’s book about TAGteach for Autism or ask a question (with no obligation).

Sign up for my mailing list to receive updates, new articles and free tips right in your inbox!

If you liked this post, please share it on social media via the vertical gray menu on the far right. Thank you!

 

 

A great resource for parents: Effective School Practices with Direct Instruction

If you are interested in making sure that all kids get a great education, you may like spending some time learning about scientifically-designed academic programs at the website of the National Institute for Direct Instruction.

Direct InstructionDirect Instruction

Direct Instruction is not yet a household name, but it deserves to be. Direct Instruction is a body of academic programs for teaching reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, language, American history and science. DI programs have 40+ years of research validation demonstrating that they result in superior learning outcomes for all students. The commitment to teach all students, regardless of socio-economic or educational levels, is the basic assumption of Direct Instruction.

The Direct Instruction philosophy states:

  1. All children can be taught.
  2. All children can improve academically and in terms of self image.
  3. All teachers can succeed if provided with adequate training and materials.
  4. Low performers and disadvantaged learners must be taught at a faster rate than typically occurs if they are to catch up to their higher-performing peers.
  5. All details of instruction must be controlled to minimize the chance of students’ misinterpreting the information being taught and to maximize the reinforcing effect of instruction.

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Scientific methods for educating a child with autism

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I have been working with my son, who has severe autism and is profoundly non-verbal, since he was 4 years old (he is now a young adult). I started off knowing virtually nothing, but having heard vaguely of something called “ABA” (Applied Behavior Analysis). Had I known then what I know now about the behaviorally-based methods, therapies and curricula available, our journey would have been much smoother and faster.

This article describes the topics that I had to educate myself about: teaching methods, curriculum, how to make adaptations to help a child with autism learn, and increasing desired behaviors with positive reinforcement. At the end of this post is a list of methods that have worked well for us, plus my personal recommendations for books to read if you are fairly new to the task of teaching a child with autism.

Check out what reputable research organizations have to say

I recommend that autism parents begin by reviewing the websites of two reputable autism research organizations: the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT). Both provide information about successful methods for working with children with autism. ASAT has extensive information about methods that have scientific validity and methods that are much-promoted, but do not have scientific validity in the treatment of autism.

The National Autism Center has produced a guide for parents entitled: A Parent’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism.

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Direct Instruction: It even works for kids with autism

happy studentSeptember 19, 2013

I sent this letter to the Commissioners of a Review Committee within a State Board of Education. The Commissioners were considering whether to approve a set of Direct Instruction curricula for use by school districts within the state. Please note that Direct Instruction curricula align with the new Common Core Standards.

What is Direct Instruction?

For those who may not be familiar with Direct Instruction (DI): this is a body of academic curricula for teaching reading, writing, math, spelling, language and language to students in grades K-8. What makes Direct Instruction unique is that it is based on scientific principles of human learning, the same principles that we see in ABA programs; these principles include use of positive reinforcement, shaping, cues, signals, prompting, and fading. But there is more.  According to the Association for Direct Instruction:

“(T)he real power of a DI program comes from the careful analysis of each skill taught. The skill is broken down into its component parts, then each component skill is taught to mastery. Afterward, the skills are combined into a larger context where different skills are utilized across settings, resulting in generalized fluency.” (See http://www.adihome.org/di-programs/faq-moofaq)

Direct Instruction programs are designed for typically developing children. However, I found them to be so powerful that I was able to use them to teach my severely autistic and profoundly nonverbal son. He learned reading, math, spelling and language with these programs.

The Letter

Dear Commission Members;

The purpose of this email is to ask respectfully for your support for including Direct Instruction curricula for use within the state.

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