Behavioral principles teaching applications part 2 collaborating and training paraprofessionals
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Behavioral Principles & Teaching Applications Part 2 & Collaborating and training paraprofessionals. Updates. What makes a good prompt?. Increases likelihood of correct responding Focuses attention on relevant features of task (Sd) Ease of delivery Ease of removal across trials

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Behavioral Principles & Teaching Applications Part 2&Collaborating and training paraprofessionals


What makes a good prompt?

  • Increases likelihood of correct responding

  • Focuses attention on relevant features of task (Sd)

  • Ease of delivery

  • Ease of removal across trials

  • Good prompts are determined by the demands of the task AND the presenting skills of the learner.

  • As weak as possible (least intrusive)

  • Should be faded as rapidly as possible

Guidelines for Selecting Prompts

  • 1) Select the least intrusive, effective prompt

  • 2) Combine prompts if necessary

  • 3) Select natural prompts and those related to the behavior

  • 4) Provide only after students are attending

  • 5) Provide in a supportive, instructive manner before response

  • 6) Fade as soon as possible

  • 7) Plan fading procedures beforehand

Activity:Provide examples of these methods for teaching a skill in your classroom

  • Prompting

    • Modeling

    • Verbal prompt

    • Visual Prompt

  • Shaping

  • Fading

  • Chaining

  • Generalization

    • Predictable/appropriate responding in noninstructional or nontraining conditions

    • Transfer of stimulus control from trained to nontrained antecedent stimuli


    • Caesar learns to raise his hand to ask for teacher assistance in homeroom. In social studies & math periods of the day, he also uses hand raises to ask for assistance. He doesn’t use hand raises at home at dinner table.

      • Generalized responding


    • Durability of performance over time

    • Durability of stimulus control over time

    • Continued performance when instructional conditions are removed


    • Having learned to use hand-raises to obtain teacher assistance during the first week of school, Caesar continued to use the appropriately strategy the rest of the school year.

    • After learning how to successfully use “look cool & walk away” during peer conflicts in 8th grade, Cleo continued to use the strategy in 9th & 10th grades.

    Directing Paraprofessional Work

    • Define the similarities & differences between teachers & paraprofessionals

    • Describe different ways in which paraprofessionals can be effectively utilized in general education settings

    • Suggest specific strategies that paraprofessionals can be taught to improve the quality of education

    • Describe ways in which teachers can effectively monitor & provide feedback to paraprofessionals


    • Your responsibility to provide leadership in classroom

      • Includes directing the work of paraprofessionals

    • What you do or don’t do will impact student learning

    • Parapros are play a significant role

    • Parapro supports that are not well designed can result in:

      • Poor peer relationships, unhealthy dependencies, limited access,

        • Giangreco & Doyle, 2004

    Welcoming & acknowledging paraprofessionals

    • Be certain they have a place of their own (e.g., desk or table)

    • Put a coffee cup or plant on their desk at beginning of the year

    • Establish routines to students that the teacher and paraprofessional are working together

      • Ex: paraprofessional participate in beginning/end class routine

    • Create opportunities for their input

      • Share student’s goals for the unit. “Do you have any thoughts on her participation?”

    Orienting Paraprofessionals

    • Orient them to the school, classroom, & students with whom they will be working

    • Don’t “throw them into things”

      • Giangreco et al., 2001

    • Intro parapro to school community: office staff, teachers, nurse, etc.

    • Be sure they are familiar with school policies

    • Show where supplies are kept

    • Provide policies on student confidentiality

    • Support for the classroom NOT the student

    Students they will support

    • Provide them information on the students they will support (e.g., IEP at a Glance)

    • Through a course or a series of staff development work shops to learn essential skills about being a paraprofessional

    • Topics should include (CichoskiKelly et al., 2000):

      • Collaborative teamwork

      • Families & cultural sensitivity

      • Characteristics of youth with various disabilities

      • Roles & responsibilities of all team members

      • Implementing teacher-planned instruction

    Establish parameters

    • Clarify their role

    • Your responsibility to:

      • Prepare plans to guide paraprofessional in instruction, assessment, decision-making, instructional methods & communicate with families

    • Many teachers introduce new concepts and skills before asking parapro to provide ongoing teaching and practice

    • Allows teacher to model instructional approaches for the para and gain firsthand info to adjust future lessons

    Planning for paraprofessionals

    • One of the keys to good teaching is good planning

    • Daily & weekly schedule of activities indicating what, when, who, where

    • Parapros schedule should be linked to classroom schedule

      • Should be clear what they should be doing for each activity in class

    • Develop plans that provide the content and level of info required for them to carry out the plan

    Things to consider when planning for parapros:

    • How much info does the para need to implement the teacher-planned lesson or activity?

    • What is the essential information?

    • What makes the most sense?

    • How can planned information be provided in ways that do not create unnecessary paperwork?

    Basic components they need to understand:

    • Purpose of activity

    • Objectives within the activity that may differ by student

    • Materials needed

    • How to arrange the learning environment

    • How to get & sustain student attention

    • How to introduce the activity (e.g., demo, explain)

    • How to encourage student participation

    • How to relate activity to previous learning

    Basic components continued

    • What desired responses look like

    • How and what feedback to provide when students give desired responses

    • What to do when students are nonresponsive

    • OR give incorrect responses

    • What data to collect and how it should be recorded

    • How to end the activity

    • What to do if the plan does not seem to be working

    Communicating with Parapros

    • Developing expectations

      • Create mechanisms for communication

      • Make sure they know who to talk to when problems arise

    • Preparing ahead

      • Be sure they are aware of dates, times, locations of meetings

      • Be a good model of planning instruction

    • Understanding Perspectives

      • Let them know that different perspectives are welcome

    • Ask them questions, Listen, & Speak clearly

    Ten tips to collaborating effectively with paraprofessionals

    • Start & end each day with them.

    • Provide them with constructive feedback ASAP.

    • Say thank you frequently for specific acts

    • Ask them how you can help

    • Demonstrate what you mean

    • Recognize the individual & unique contributions of each parapro

    • Occasionally meet together way from school

    8. Demonstrate what you mean

    9. Encourage them to keep a daily journal of activities, thoughts, and feelings

    10. Advocate for their professional growth.

    Adapted from Lee, 1999


    • Minnesota Paraprofessional Consortium


    • National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education & Related Services


    • National Clearinghouse of Paraeducator Resources:


    Work as collaborative teams

    • Decisions are made at numerous points, but only after team members share their different perspectives on the student, engage in relevant discussion, problem solving, and then reach consensus as a team (Friend & Cook, 2010)

    • Nonconsensual decisions tend to reflect a narrower range of information and risk being of poorer quality (Snell & Janney, 2005)

    Effective Instruction

    “Holding a student responsible for assigned material is not teaching, even though it is a large part of modern school and university practice.”

    B.F. Skinner, 1968

    Understanding the Stages of Learning

    • Acquisition

      • (build initial stimulus control)

    • Fluency

      • (develop speed, accuracy)

    • Maintenance

      • (durability of skill across time)

    • Generalization

      • (performance of behavior under appropriate, non-trained conditions)

    Stages of Learning

    • Acquisition: new at task, instruction crucial, student not accurate

    • Fluency: accurate and increase in speed

    • Maintenance: skills retained over time

    • Generalization: skill in new contexts (discriminate)

    • Adaptation: modify skill for new situation


    • Teaching discriminations

      • Positive examples

      • Maximally different negative example

      • Minimally different negative example

      • Positive examples

    • Teach what to do, and when to do it.

      • The behavior

      • The signal (discriminative stimulus)

    • Prompting, fading, shaping, rewarding

    Learner characteristics at acquisition stage

    • Student performs none or up to about half of the task

    • May need to cue or prompt initiation

    • May need a low-error prompt system

    • Possibly break skill down into smaller components

    • Give frequent positive feedback


    • Improved rate of responding

    • But fluency is more than just rate

      • Fluid motions

      • Absence of pausing

      • Speed in decision-making

      • Rhythmic

    • Build fluency through practice

      • Math facts, chromatic scale, second language

      • Fluency is an index of the power of stimulus control that has been established.

    Fluent learner characteristics

    • Student performs more than half of the task

    • Add realistic speed and quality criteria

    • Add to skill to make it more functional (e.g., monitors speed & quality)

    • Enrich skill with communication choice, or social behaviors

    • Drop all intrusive requests

    • Fade intrusive prompt

    • Shift attention to natural cues and prompts

    • Thin out reinforcement

    • Shift to natural reinforcement


    • Stability of responding over time

    • Variables that affect maintenance

      • Building fluency with initial instruction (level of stimulus control

      • Regular opportunity to perform

      • On-going access to contingent rewards (reinforcement)

      • Access to competing alternative behaviors that are contingently reinforced.

    Learners at the maintenance stage

    • Student performs more than half of the task

    • “Schedule it” and expect student to perform

    • Add to the skill to make it more functional (e.g., initiates, prepares)

    • Enrich skill with communication, choice, social behaviors

    • Drop all intrusive requests

    • Fade intrusive prompts

    • Shift attention to natural cues

    • Thin out reinforcement

    • Shift to natural reinforcement


    • Defined:

      • Target behavior is performed under conditions beyond those used during instruction.

      • Generalization can be desired (e.g.“greeting skills”) or undesired (saying /b/ in the presence of “d”).

      • Build generalized skills through selection and sequencing of teaching examples

    Characteristics of learners at the generalization stage

    • Student performs more than half of the task

    • Vary settings

    • Vary instructors, supervisors, others

    • Vary materials

    • Vary conditions and teach problem solving

    • Enrich skill with communication, choice

    • Drop all intrusive requests

    • Fade intrusive prompt, reinforcement

    • Shift attention to natural cues & natural reinforcement






    Stages of Learning


    • 4 basic elements of behavior

      • Response, Antecedent stimulus, Consequence, Setting Event

  • 9 principles of behavior

    • Stimulus control, Positive reinforcement, Negative reinforcement, Positive punishment, Negative punishment, Transfer, Generalization, Maintenance

  • Applications to teaching

    • Prompting, Fading, Shaping, Task Analysis, Design of Instruction, Instructional objectives, Behavioral objectives.

  • Examples

    • Teaching reading in second grade

      • Objective: Hailey will read at 100 words correct per min with the Open Court text.

      • Acquisition:

      • Fluency:

      • Maintenance:

      • Generalization:


    • Decrease problem behavior

      • Objective: Mikai will not hit, kick or bite others on the playground.

      • Mikai will play cooperatively with others on the playground without hitting, kicking, or biting for 5 consecutive days.

      • Acquisition:

      • Fluency:

      • Maintenance:

      • Generalization:

    Instructional Activities (acquisition)

    • Direct instruction

      • Systematic teaching of target skills: reading, math, social-behavioral skills

      • MODEL  LEAD TEST

    direct instruction (“little di”): Steps

    • Gain attention … ”Everyone eyes on me.”

    • Review previous material to:

      Check for understanding to ensure students remember

      How previous material is relevant to new material

    • State goal

      State Expectations Positively

    • New content in small steps

      Explicit Instruction, range of examples, logical sequence)

    • Model

      Demonstration of the skill

    • Lead

      Prompted (guided) practice

      Unprompted practice

    • Test

      Independent practice

    Instructional Concepts

    • State expectations positively

    • Explicit instruction

    • Range of examples

    • Logical sequencing

    Instructional Concept #1

    State Expectations Positively

    Teach them what you do want them to do

    • Ineffective Instruction

    • Sets the occasion for student failure

    No elbowing others

    No kicking

    No hitting

    No pinching

    No biting

    No scratching

    Etc. . .

    2+2 is not 1

    2+2 is not 2

    2+2 is not 3

    2+2 is not 5

    2+2 is not 6

    2+2 is not 7

    Etc. . .

    Teaching Behaviors

    Behavior: Peer Relations

    Academic Skill:Addition

    Hands and feet to self or

    Respect others

    2+2 = 4

    Teaching Behaviors

    Behavior: Peer Relations

    Academic Skill: Addition

    Instructional Concept #2

    Explicit Instruction

    Be Direct

    What is the Best Way to Facilitate Academic Success?

    • Teaching - teacher structures a lesson, models skills, and leads students through practice or key skills.

    • Facilitate - teachers sets up activities wherein students discover key skills.

    • Support - teachers simply oversee students and offer support for whatever they do.

    Should we teach, facilitate, or just support?

    Explicit Instruction

    Large-Scale Research and Meta Analyses

    • Direct Comparison Meta-AnalysisFavor explicit instruction87.3 %Tie 0.6 %Favor other methods12.1 %

    • Students of all ages and abilities

    • Academic and social behaviors

    • Especially effective with low performers

    • Very successful with disadvantaged students

    Instructional Concept #3

    Range of Examples

    Show all the possibilities

    Effective Instruction

    • Effective example selection and sequencing

    • Task analysis

    • Facilitate success

    • Delivered at the level of the student

    Effective instruction is:

    Walk on green

    Don’t walk

    on red

    Walk on green

    Don’t walk

    on red

    Green light =


    Walk on green

    = ?




    • -


    • -



    NO LIGHT =


    Instructional Concept #4

    Logical Sequencing

    Juxtapose positive and negative examples

    = osh

    = osh

    = osh







    = osh

    = osh


    Osh = ?

    = osh

    = osh

    = osh

    = not osh







    = osh

    = osh

    = not osh


    Osh =


    Instructional Sequence

    • Presentation - tell and model

    • Recitation - student Q & A

    • Individual Work - with teacher feedback-make sure students get it

    • Group work

      -activities, experiments, etc.

      -chance to discover application to real world

    • Test - Make sure they have skill fluency

    Instructional Sequence

    • Model: Structured, Clear

      Be direct with multiple examples & non-examples

    • Lead: High levels of opportunities to respond (OTR), success

      • Individual Work - with clear teacher feedback-make sure students get it

      • Group work

        -activities, experiments, etc.

        -chance to discover application to real world

    • Test - Make sure they have skill fluency

    Instructional Methods

    • Students with intellectual disabilities learn best when instructional methods are explicit, systematic, and derived from empirical research such as the following practices (Heward, 2003)

    Heward, 2003

    • Assess each student’s present levels of performance to help identify and prioritize most important instructional targets.

    • Define and task-analyze the new knowledge or skills to be learned

    • Design instructional methods and activities so the student has frequent opportunities for active student response in the form of guided and independent practice

    • Use mediated scaffolding (provide and then fade prompts so student can respond to natural occurring stimuli)

    Heward, 2003 continued

    • Provide systematic consequences for student performance in the form of contingent reinforcement, instructional feedback, and error correction.

    • Incorporate fluency-building activities into lessons

    • Incorporate strategies for promoting generalization and maintenance of newly learned skills

    • Conduct direct and frequent measurements of student performance, and use those data to instructional decisions.

    Specialized Teaching Strategies

    • Visual modality strategies

      • Visual supports, visual schedules, activity boards, rule scripts, video modeling,

    • Task analysis & chaining

      • Forward, backward, interrupted

    • Discrete teaching trials

    • Prompting systems, time-delay,

    • Antecedent & Consequence strategies

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