The Education Circle…

Education is a circle.So, why a circle for this photo? Think about it…


A circle encompasses infinite points. Rough edges are smoothed. No telling where it begins. Or ends. A circle rolls right through good and bad. Early influences are circled back to again and again. There are no square pegs.


Doesn’t this describe education? Special education? The many points include teachers, but also family, therapists, friends, and more. The rough edges are gaps in our knowledge, behaviors, and interactions that it helps to fill. Our learning starts early, lasts a lifetime, and, if we’re fortunate, is passed on to the future. Of course there are good and bad days, but education continues. Early learning reverberates throughout our lives. Square pegs? Nope. Certainly not with Miss Kathy’s students.

A book review: Raising the Curve

Raising-the-Curve-by-Ron-Berler-300x300How do you improve education? A simple question that receives attention galore, but has no definitive answers.


Ron Berler’s book, Raising the Curve: A Year Inside One of America’s 45,000 Failing Public Schools, takes a year long, in-depth look at a single school, Brookside Elementary in Norwalk, Connecticut. It introduces us to teachers, administrators, specialists, and students as they make a school wide effort to raise standardized test scores. After school programs, teacher camaraderie, intense teaching to the test, peer leadership, classroom distractions, and more are all explored.


What works best? Frustratingly, the answer appears to be D: None of the Above, since the Brookside test scores barely improved after this year long effort. However, Raising the Curve hints at a possible key: Home. Yes, that place where a child spends even more time than at school. Reading together. Homework support. Quality time. Good nutrition. Mealtime discussions. Would a year of these activities raise the test scores? Maybe a subject for a Raising the Curve, Home Edition?

Student (and teacher!) growth

IMG_3353-300x300The last month of school, and my have we grown. Summer’s class topic? Growth and change, of course. We discussed how animals, flowers, and people grow. But the most exciting change? Seeing student skills & behaviors improve dramatically during the year. Makes Me proud! 

A bonus? Watching student growth spark teachers to be stronger. A very inspirational end to the school year.

Stinky Diapers and 123TokenMe


At the APBA conference this past week in Las Vegas we met interesting behavior analysts from all over the world, and received great feedback. Maribel, however, took the prize for the most pungent idea yet for using 123TokenMe.


Maribel works primarily one-on-one with pre-school kids, but several times a week she runs a small skills group. Her idea? To take a group photo of her kiddos and set them up as a 123TokenMe group session. She said they love to call themselves something funny- Stinky Diapers, for example. She will set a target behavior such as Asking questions that the Stinky Diapers will work on together. She was already imagining how she’ll have each student come forward to tap a token for their group of peers after asking a question.

The reinforcer? A group activity that the Stinky Diapers will choose, such as a popcorn party, or playground time. Great idea, Maribel. Starting this week, have fun with 123TokenMe and the Stinky Diapers. Just don’t forget to hold your nose!

Look… It’s Super Kid!

IMG_0020-300x300December has seen a big change in my special education classroom- Social Butterfly has morphed into Super Kid. With the release of Version 1.1 of 123TokenMe the new superhero token has become a classroom favorite. We have used this interest to introduce Super Kid.


Super Kid uses his powers to make good choices, even when it is difficult: Listening to teacher instructions the first time, sharing with a classmate, and using kind words with friends. To build excitement we designed several lessons on superheroes. When Super Kid makes a classroom appearance, my kiddos know that he will be recognizing someone for using their own super power to make a good choice. 


As new tokens are introduced to 123TokenMe, it is easy to see how a classroom lesson will be tailored to match a new favorite. A bird? A plane? No it’s Super Kid, the super hero that helps me to inspire my students.

Are social skills important? You butterfly believe it!

IMG_0918-2Each month my classroom has a “Social Butterfly” lesson. It starts dramatically, with Social Butterfly flying out of hiding. Her mission? To teach specific social skills that our students need to be successful friends. Each lesson incorporates one or two of the various elements of social skills. These include conversation, cooperation, teamwork, encouragement, emotions, language, and play.


Social butterfly flies around the room as a reminder to my students to practice their new social skill. When Social Butterfly observes a student using her skill of the month, she is quick to award a celebratory “butterfly kiss”. In addition, we are quick to follow Social Butterfly’s lead by reinforcing with a butterfly token. When students earn all of their butterfly tokens on 123TokenMe Pro, their reward is choosing a friend to do a fun activity with. Thus, the social skills are reinforced.


Are social skills important? You butterfly believe it!

A new high school student?




Who is that student? The one with the pink shirt hurrying to class? Actually it’s not a student… it’s Kathy. After over fifteen years of working as a SLP in early intervention, she is now working at the high school level.


Kathy is looking forward to an exciting year with lots of learning. A chance to shake things up at a different level. To make a positive impact with students in their transition from school to life. And a great opportunity to model safe behavior by properly using crosswalks.

Teachers- This idea is for you!

IMG_2003-300x300Summer here, with a 123TokenMe Pro idea for teachers. Like many of our ideas, this one comes to you straight from my classroom. This idea starts with using my iPad to take a group photo of my kiddos. Together they decide on a token type and what their reinforcement will be as a group. Maybe a popcorn party or group play with a classroom favorite. I snap a quick photo of their choice and add it to the reward chest.


Next, we decide on how the tokens will be earned. As you can guess, the “buy-in” for students increases greatly when they have been part of the process to choose the behavior that is being targeted.


For the group to earn a token EVERYONE must be joining in and participating. I also give an extra token whenever one student helps another. Guess what? Students start to reinforce each other for doing a good job! They also get after their friends for not being “cool.” They learn how to work as a group and become more socially aware of their peers. The 123TokenMe Pro app is powerful, and even more so when you creatively allow your students to help.