Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Earning A Smiley Face

Many teachers and related staff folks use smiley faces as visual reinforcers to help students work toward a reward, with the primary goal of improving on-task behaviors.  "X" number of smiley faces on a behavior log and the student can go to the classroom store and purchase "Y" or earn some special time with his teacher or peers.
Sometimes the student needs more details to understand how to earn that smiley face at the end of a 15 minute or 30 minute session with the OT.  This idea worked yesterday with two young students:

  • Find a puzzle piece or picture that shows a child's head, simply drawn.
  • Ask your student what they see when they look at the puzzle piece, then write down the different parts.  Aim for a list of 5-8 parts (hair, eyes, mouth...)
  • Draw a large circle on the paper.  Ask your student what parts are missing, then draw the parts on your list, one by one, talking about each one.
  • Remark on how the drawn face looks like a smiley face.  Introduce the idea that the student will earn parts of a smiley face when they are working hard "with their smart fingers" when a timer goes off.  Draw a large circle for your new smiley face.
  • Set the timer for 3 minutes, then turn the front of the timer away from both of you.  Begin your planned activity and keep going until the timer sounds.
  • If the student is working hard on what you've planned, ask them which part of the smiley face should be drawn.  Draw one part (like both eyes or the nose) then set the timer for a short period of time--no more than 4 minutes.  If the student isn't working hard when the timer goes off, lightly say that they might get to put a part on the smiley face next time when they are..."Cutting the shape out with scissors, folding their paper, holding the pencil close to the tip..."  Focus on saying what they can do to earn part of their smiley face and try real hard not to say things like, "When you stop poking me with your pencil you will earn a smiley face."
  • Repeat the process until your session is over.
  • Be sure to space out your timed intervals to realistically complete a smiley face within the timeframe of your session.  However, if they haven't earned all the parts of the smiley face and don't get a smiley face on their behavior chart that's beneficial for them to experience, as well.

Let me know how it works for you, or if you have other successful ideas for shaping positive behaviors.

1 comment:

Tonya said...

I may try this some day when needed. Right now, the only kids that won't work are the kids that don't really understand what I am trying to get them to do.