Back to School: Rethink Ed Update 2018

Summer 2018 has been a busy few months for Rethink Ed! We are excited to share some of our latest updates!

  1. We’ve updated the look and feel of the Rethink Ed platform!

  • – Administrators: We’ve created a way for you to easily access an instant snapshot of overall teacher usage and student performance so you can achieve accountability and transparency across the district.
  • – Educators: We’ve simplified data collection, added an incident tracking feature, and created a way for you to easily search and find lessons!

*We will have guided tours and trainings available to assist you and your staff. If you have any additional questions about the new Rethink Ed UI or want more information on Rethink Ed register for our upcoming webinar: 5 Rethink Ed Platform Updates You’ll Want to Try

2. We’ve partnered with ERB, Educational Records Bureau, to launch Rethink SEL, a groundbreaking SEL Solution with Embedded Assessment to improve culture and climate in schools. It is the first comprehensive social and emotional learning solution that includes an integrated assessment, on-demand professional development, and a multi-tiered curriculum for all learners. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2rcicKo

3. We’ve teamed up with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, to pioneer the first SEL Superintendent Convening, Educating the Total Child through Social Emotional Learning, in ChicagoOct. 19-20. During this event, school system leaders will convene in Chicago and discuss the needs of the whole child–including social and emotional development. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2MzsLAC

4. We’ve developed a Social and Emotional Learning Administrator Toolkit.

“Rethink is an SEL PK-12 program solution to schools and the only company that I believe has figured out social emotional learning.” -Joseph Erardi, Jr. PhD (Former Superintendent, Newton, CT)

We are excited to share with you a preview of our SEL Administer Tool Kit presented by the former Newtown School Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Erardi. Watch and learn how SEL can help educators and school leaders manage crisis and support Social Emotional Learning.

Follow us on LinkedIn for more up to date Rethink Ed News!

What’s the big deal with SEL?

By Christina Cipriano, PhD

Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL, refers to interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies that underscore the way we understand, use, and manage emotions to learn. Emotions drive how we think, pay attention, make decisions, manage our time, and countless other processes that impact how students and teachers show up in the classroom.

The Rethink Ed SEL for ALL Learners platform is a school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program for enhancing the psychosocial health and well-being of teachers and students while creating an optimal learning environment that promotes academic, social, and personal effectiveness. Psychosocial health and well-being refers to the knowledge and skills needed to promote mental health, emotion regulation, and prosocial behaviors—knowledge and skills that are necessary for optimal development.

Educators, parents, and legislators acknowledge the need for schools to address the social and emotional needs of students in order to provide a rich learning environment. In fact, a systematic process for promoting SEL is the common element among schools that report an increase in academic achievement, improved relationship quality between teachers and students, and a decrease in problem behaviors.

Ideal SEL curricula are those that address the full spectrum of children’s needs by cultivating a caring, supportive, and empowering learning environments that foster the development of all learners in the school. Rethink Ed SEL was designed specifically to meet these criteria.

VB MAPP + Rethink Ed = Student Success!

Rethink Ed understands the importance of quality assessments in delivering effective instruction. To assist with summative evaluation, Rethink Ed has integrated the VB MAPP (Verbal Behavioral Milestones and Placement Program) into the Rethink Ed platform. This integration allows educators to complete the VB MAPP within Rethink Ed, store data in one location, and allow seamless matriculation across grade levels. Lastly, VB MAPP is fully aligned to the Rethink Ed curriculum.

VB MAPP is important for educators because it provides a baseline level of performance, a direction for intervention, a system for tracking skill acquisition, a tool for outcome measures and other language research projects, and a framework for curriculum planning. Rethink is very excited to offer this feature for 2018! Contact info@rethinked.com to learn more!

Seven Strategies to Make Professional Learning Effective

Teachers become teachers because they are motivated to help children learn! Every teacher can tell you that they have plenty of opportunity to hone their craft and improve their practice. For some it is learning new content to teach, for others it is developing better classroom management support, for many it is learning the new rapidly developing techniques and technologies.

However, every educator can also tell stories of the useless professional learning sessions they sat through that weren’t related to their scope of practice. Recent research shows that current professional learning practices in schools are time consuming, not budget friendly, and are ineffective. Teachers want to learn and schools are providing professional learning opportunities, the process needs to shift into effectiveness.

Here are 7 Strategies, provided by the Learning Policy Institute, to make professional learning effective and meaningful. Quality Professional Learning:

  1. Is content focused: PD that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports teacher learning within teachers’ classroom contexts. This element includes an intentional focus on discipline-specific curriculum development and pedagogies in areas such as mathematics, science, or literacy.
  2. Incorporates active learning:  Active learning engages teachers directly in designing and trying out teaching strategies, providing them an opportunity to engage in the same style of learning they are designing for their students. Such PD uses authentic artifacts, interactive activities, and other strategies to provide deeply embedded, highly contextualized professional learning. This approach moves away from traditional learning models and environments that are lecture based and have no direct connection to teachers’ classrooms and students.
  3. Supports collaboration: High-quality PD creates space for teachers to share ideas and collaborate in their learning, often in job-embedded contexts. By working collaboratively, teachers can create communities that positively change the culture and instruction of their entire grade level, department, school and/or district.
  4. Uses models of effective practice: Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like. Teachers may view models that include lesson plans, unit plans, sample student work, observations of peer teachers, and video or written cases of teaching.
  5. Provides coaching and expert support: Coaching and expert support involve the sharing of expertise about content and evidence-based practices, focused directly on teachers’ individual needs.
  6. Offers feedback and reflection: High-quality professional learning frequently provides built-in time for teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback. Feedback and reflection both help teachers to thoughtfully move toward the expert visions of practice.
  7. Is of sustained duration: Effective PD provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice, implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice

Do a little self-check and ask yourself: Does your professional learning incorporate all of these practices? What could you do to move the needle on your professional learning? Every teacher wants to get better, and these strategies can make that happen!

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in the Classroom

By Stephanie Whitley, MEd-BCBA

What is PBIS?

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a schoolwide discipline system for creating positive school environments through the use of proactive strategies that define, teach and reinforce appropriate behaviors. PBIS is based on the principles of applied behavior analysis and is a proactive approach to establishing supports that:

•Improve the social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success
•Makes challenging behavior less effective, efficient and relevant.

PBIS is the only approach addressing behavior that was mentioned in the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is interchangeable with School-wide Positive Behavior Supports.

What does PBIS look like?

PBIS focuses on a comprehensive system of positive behavior supports for all students in a school and is implemented in all areas of the school, including classroom and non-classroom settings (e.g. cafeteria, bus, restrooms, etc.).

PBIS is a tiered system of supports to improve the daily lifestyle of all by reducing the effectiveness of challenging behavior and making desired behavior more functional. Tier 1 supports are universal supports that are taught and reinforced with the whole student population. Tier 2 supports are targeted supports for students that need further explanation and reinforcement of desired behaviors. Tier 3 supports are supports provided at an individual level. This is for students that need tailored instruction and reinforcement to meet their personal learning needs.

 

How is PBIS implemented?

To establish the universal/Tier 1 supports, a campus committee is formed of administrators, general education teachers and special education teachers. The list of activities below are established:

1. A theme is chosen to help students and staff easily remember the rules. This theme either ties into the school mascot (e.g. PAW rules for Wildcats or Bulldogs) or follows the three “Be’s” (Be safe, Be responsible, Be respectful).

2. Each area of the school or community in which students frequent are identified. This includes cafeteria, gym, hallways, playground, buses, etc.

3. The thematic guidelines/rules are then applied to each identified area. For example, being responsible in the hallway is walking directly to and from your destination.

4. Visuals of all identified guidelines are created and posted in the locations identified.

5. A reinforcement system is established. This includes tokens to be used for when students are engaging in the desired behavior and a way for the students to redeem their tokens. For example, the Wildcats may create “Cat Cash” as a token of reinforcement. A school using the three “Be’s” may use “Honey Money.” The students are then able to use their tokens to purchase items in the school store or treasure box. Items can include school supplies, toys, homework passes, extra restroom passes and even gift cards.

6. At the beginning of the school year and right after each long break, such as winter break, students are provided instructions on each guideline in each area of the school/community. Instruction includes examples and non-examples of the expected behavior. For example, students are shown what it looks like to be responsible in the hallway (walking directly to and from destination), and what it looks like to NOT be responsible in the hallway (running or stopping to look in each window of classrooms as walking to and from destination).

7. Teachers and staff members are encouraged to look for students engaging in the appropriately identified behavior and to recognize those students by providing a token and naming the specific reason the student is receiving the token.

8. The students accumulate and redeem their tokens for a secondary reinforcer.

Modifications and Accommodations

Some students may need modifications or accommodations to fully participate in the PBS system. Students identified for Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports should be a small group of the total school’s population that need:

•More frequent reminders of the expectations
•More frequent reinforcement and/or ability to turn in their tokens more frequently for the secondary reinforcer
•Primary reinforcers paired with the token
•An individual chart to track their token economy
•A separate “store” of reinforcers that are based on the student’s individual preferences

The school-wide and Tier 2 and 3 supports should be reviewed regularly. Data should be collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the PBS program and plan. This data should be in the form of office referrals, the number of students accessing the reinforcement system, the students’ and staff’s ability to recite expectations and examples of those expectations, as well as, the number of students that are able to fade from more intensive supports to lesser intensive supports. As all data is collected, the PBIS committee should review and make necessary changes to ensure the effectiveness of the plan.

Misconceptions Revealed! Everything you need to know about the Extended School Year

Extended School Year (ESY) is an extension of special education and related services that are provided to students beyond the normal school year. ESY in the United States is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal law.

Here are 4 common misconceptions about ESY:

ESY only occurs during the summer: False!

ESY services are provided when school is not typically in session. That’s often during the summer, but for some students it can also be during other extended breaks, such winter vacation. ESY services can even be an extension of the student’s normal school day, such as a special tutoring program.

Students automatically qualify for ESY if they have an IEP: Not Everywhere!

ESY is not guaranteed for all students who have IEPs. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act lets each state or school district set its own rules for eligibility, and so each IEP team will determine the need for these supports annually. To be eligible for ESY services, the student must have evidenced/documented substantial regression and recoupment issues during the previous IEP year and/or there is evidence of emerging skills which are often referred to as “breakthrough” skills.

ESY focuses on academics: Not Always!

ESY services are not necessarily a continuation of the same instructional program and related services the student receives during the normal school year as prescribed by the IEP. IEP teams have flexibility in determining what ESY services might be needed. For example, ESY services may take the form of teachers and parents working together by providing materials for home use with progress monitored by the teacher, supports needed just in occupational therapy, social skills/social emotional learning supports, or support in multiple areas that may or may not include academics.

ESY’s priority is to teach new skills: Practice, Practice, Practice!

ESY services are designed to support an eligible student to maintain the academic, social/behavioral, communication, or other skills that they have learned as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 accommodation plan. The priority for ESY programs are generally not to teach new skills but to practice maintaining previously acquired or learned skills. This is a great time to ensure all that learning that occurred throughout the year remains as the student moves into their next grade.

Parent Engagement When Addressing Challenging Behavior

By Christine Penington, MA, BCBA

Parent engagement in addressing challenging behavior across a variety of settings (e.g., school settings, community settings, in the home) is a critical component of meaningful, lasting, positive behavior change for learners. When parents and teachers collaborate on the development and implementation of positive behavior support strategies across the home and school settings students will benefit from the clear and consistent expectations. Parents can remain engaged in developing effective positive behavior support strategies for their children by collaborating with school team members during the assessment, development, and implementation of behavior support strategies across home and school settings.

1. Assessment: Evaluate and Complete the Picture

The first step is to identify “why” the challenging behavior is occurring. Is the child engaging in problem behavior to get attention, to get out of a task, or to gain access to a desired item or activity?

In a function-based behavior intervention plan, why a behavior is occurring is referred to as the function of the behavior. Parents often have valuable information to contribute when the function of the behavior is being assessed. For example, maybe there have been recent changes in medication that may be effecting behavior. Perhaps there has been a significant change at home such as a grandparent moving in or a favorite family member moving out. Also, Parents can provide information on if the challenging behavior is happening in the home setting, what it looks like if it is happening at home, and if there are a pattern of events that take place to evoke the challenging behavior. Parent engagement during the assessment portion of behavior intervention planning can yield a more complete picture of why the challenging behavior is occurring.

2. Antecedent Strategies:

Step 2 is to develop a comprehensive function-based intervention plan with strategies for addressing the challenging behavior. Antecedent strategies are interventions that are implemented before the occurrence of the challenging behavior. These are strategies that increase the likelihood that appropriate behavior will occur. Examples of antecedent strategies include using visual supports, visual schedules, and setting clear expectations, providing choice, and providing scheduled access to breaks or attention from preferred people.

Antecedent strategies can often be powerful agents of behavior change and decrease the likelihood that problem behavior will occur. If an antecedent strategy is working well at home, this information can be shared with school team members, so a similar strategy can be implemented (the reverse is also true). Having similar proactive supports in place will help provide consistent rules and expectations for our student’s.

Teaching appropriate communication is also an important component of an effective behavior intervention plan. Functional communication training is the practice of replacing challenging behavior with functional and appropriate communication. For example, if a student is engaging in challenging behavior to get out of a task, a functionally equivalent and appropriate response is to ask for a break. For non-vocal learners, or learners with an emerging vocal repertoire, it is important for parents and school team members to discuss appropriate communication methods to support the learner in all environments. For example, if parents are already using a picture exchange communication system at home it is important to share this information with school team members and vice versa.

3. Consequence Strategies:

Step 3 is to develop a consequence strategy. While antecedent strategies can be highly effective at decreasing or eliminating problem behavior, a comprehensive behavior plan will also include consequence strategies. Consequence strategies, specify how the team will respond if the challenging behavior occurs and alternatively if the desired, appropriate behavior occurs. These consequence strategies are also based on the function of the behavior, or “why” the behavior is occurring. For example, if the assessment shows a child is engaging in challenging behavior to get out of a task, the consequence strategy for challenging behavior may be to follow through with the task. In this case the challenging behavior is not reinforced.

A comprehensive behavior support plan also specifies how team members will respond if the child engages in the appropriate, desired behavior. For example, if a student has a history of engaging in whining to get out of doing homework and instead of whining the student engages in the desired behavior (homework completion), it is important to reinforce the appropriate, desired behavior. Parent-teacher communication is important for developing and implementing effective reinforcement strategies. It is important to ask: Are there highly preferred items or activities the child engages in at home? Could these items or activities be utilized as part of the reinforcement system at school? If a specific type of reinforcement system is being utilized in the school setting such as a point system or a token board, can parents implement a similar system in the home setting? Sharing information on effective reinforcers, reinforcement systems, and reinforcement materials (e.g., token boards) can help promote consistency in expectations across settings.

4. Planning for Success: The last step

Planning for success is key for implementing positive behavior support strategies across settings. In the school setting there are multiple team members working together to address student needs with access to behavior support materials and resources. In the home setting there are often competing demands for parent’s time and attention and behavior resources and materials may be limited. Given the realities of implementing behavior strategies across these different settings it is important for teachers and parents to discuss realistic supports and strategies that can be put into place and maintained across settings.

For example, parents and teachers should discuss: If visual supports are suggested as a proactive support for a learner, what type of visual supports will be beneficial at home and where will parents access these materials? If scheduled access to attention is suggested as a proactive strategy who will provide attention to the child, at what intervals will attention be provided, and what supports are in place to remind parents to provide this attention (e.g., a vibrating timer)? What type of appropriate communication method is being used to replace the challenging behavior? What does the challenging behavior look like at home and how will parents respond when the behavior occurs? What time of reinforcement system is in place for appropriate behaviors?

By anticipating barriers to consistent implementation of behavior supports at home, how those barriers will be addressed, and what specific supports and strategies will be put into place parents can effectively plan for success when addressing challenging behavior across various settings.

Regression and Recoupment Data Collection and Analysis over Winter Holiday Break

By Patricia Wright

Qualifying students for Extended School Year (ESY) is a multi-faceted process. One of the considerations is regression and recoupment; is the student likely to lose skills and fail to gain those skills within a reasonable time-frame upon return to instruction. The winter break is an ideal time to assess regression and recoupment. Collecting data immediately prior to the break and immediately following the break can demonstrate the student’s performance over a two-week absence of instruction.

For example, the student below showed a significant regression and it took an entire month to recoup to the prior rate of performance. This may be a consideration in determining eligibility for ESY.

Utilizing data-based decision making for ESY eligibility can decrease the challenges created when relying on personal perspectives or opinions. Use Rethink Ed to actively collect data immediately prior and immediately following winter break and see how your students perform.

Inclusion Benefits All Students

By: Debbie Burney

October is National Bullying Awareness Month, and our most vulnerable population for being the victims of bullying are children with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities. Every student deserves to thrive in a safe school and classroom that is free from bullying, and schools have an obligation to keep kids safe. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) notes that:

A growing body of literature suggests that the two most notable predictors of the bullying involvement of students with disabilities are lack of social skills and communication skills. Therefore, teachers could incorporate activities in their daily curriculum that reinforce socially appropriate social and communication skills without directly implementing a prescribed anti-bullying program. Link to article

Rethink Ed provides teachers with lessons they can use with their students with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in general education classrooms. The four domains into which the lessons are categorized are:

  1. Social Communication
  2. Group Participation
  3. Study Skills
  4. Peer Interaction

Join us as we take a deep look into this powerful curriculum from Rethink Ed, and learn how it provides the tools for Special Education teachers to help their students safely integrate into the general education classroom. Watch the Webinar Recording Now: Inclusion Benefits All Students

5 Ways to Prevent Bullying Through Peer Advocacy

By: Maria Wilcox, MA, BCBA

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which is a campaign that aims to prevent bullying and encourage acceptance across communities.

According to Pacer.Org, all studies conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers.

Peers are more likely to see bullying than adults are and are more likely to have a greater impact on telling a bully to stop than an adult doing the same. PACER Teens Against Bullying

A unique model used in a variety of schools are Peer Advocates. This is a student or group of students who look out for other students who may be bullied, excluded, or otherwise isolated by speaking up for them, advocating for them, and making sure they are included and kept from harm.

Here are five ways to use peer advocates in your own school and activities:

  1. Sit with individuals likely to be bullied or experiencing bullying at lunch.
  2. Invite them to all school activities, such as sports events and include them with your friend group.
  3. If you see bullying happening to an individual, get them away from the situation.
  4. Listen and give advice as a friend.
  5. Use peer advocates in every aspect of the school community and culture from in-class, to lunch, to assemblies, and more. The more you include those likely to be bullied, the more peers will come to accept.

There are no simple solutions to bullying but awareness and change in culture seem to be most effective in providing safe and secure learning environments. Please check out the following resources for more information on peer advocacy, bullying prevention, and school culture change.

Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe from Bullying

Peer Advocacy

Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities