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Token boards are a great way to increase compliance with non-preferred activities in the classroom and at home. They provide students with a visual means of telling when and how they will receive reinforcement. 

What's a Token Board
A token board is a visual system that shows progress toward a reinforcer with tokens earned for completing behavioral and academic tasks. They act as a visual reminder for the student about how close they are to the reinforcer. It helps to keep them more focused and reinforce positive behavior. The token board is an awesome way of decreasing those verbal reminders we constantly repeat to students, of what is expected. Instead of repeatedly stating your expectations,  point to the token board, saying "When you finish 2 more words you may....".

I first started using token board systems to increase positive behavior while in the halls and special activities such as music, lunch, art, and P.E. It worked so well, I soon extended it into the everyday activities of my classroom.
If I had an unusual behavior I wanted to work on with a particular student such as sitting in a chair, I used a token board first. And many times, it was perfect!

 There are many different types of token boards you can use. There is no one correct type. Use what works best for you and your students. I usually use very simple token boards to eliminate artwork that may be distracting. Some students will work harder if the token board contains pictures they like. You may need to experiment to see what is best. You may need a variety of types of token boards to meet the needs of your students because as we all know, no 2 students are alike. One of the greatest things about token boards is they are so modifiable. They can be super simple or more complex to meet the need of the task/behavior and student.  A token board should include the following parts.
  • A reinforcer/reward section - what is the student working for
  • Tokens section - what tokens  have been earned
  • Quantity of tokens needed- how many do they need to earn?
Here are a few of the token board series I frequently used. The cards have different amounts of token spaces on them so I can use them to increase the work/behavior reinforcers as the students become successful.

How to use Token Boards:

  1.  Select a reinforcer the student is interested in. Perhaps you have a student that loves princesses. Then perhaps having a princess on their tokens will be particularly motivating to them. Dinosaurs, pennies, keys, smiley faces, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Thomas the Tank Engine are just a few of the other tokens I have used. 

    I often had a board in the classroom with the token reinforcers that were available. The students could select which one they wanted to use on their token card. Making sure the token reinforcer and end reward is motivating to the student is key to token boards being successful.
  2. Select the behavior or task you want to be completed. It's important to use one that is attainable and broken down to the simplest step. (e.g. If you want the student to complete a math assignment of 4 tasks or problems, but they can't complete 2 make sure to work on completing 1 first then build up to 4 when 2 and 3 tasks have been mastered.
  3. Each time the student successfully completes the requested task/behavior then hand him a token to be placed on the board. (e.g. If you are working on sitting in a chair. 
  4. Keep the board in view for the student to help with attention.
  5. When the student has earned the designated amount of tokens, give them the agreed upon reinforcer.

Teaching Token Boards:
  1. Two options
    A.  Begin with a token board that is almost complete. If using a 5 penny board, for 1 example, pre-load the board with 4 pennies. When the student performs the desired behavior, place another penny on the board and immediately reinforce the student. Always place the penny on the board in view of the student and pair with verbal reinforcement each time.
As the student becomes more familiar with the token board, preload the board with fewer pennies until you reach the student’s current ability level. The ultimate goal is to start with an empty board.

B. Begin with a token board with minimal spaces for token such as 1 or 2. As you progress, you can change the card to other with increasing amounts of token spaces on it.
When introducing the token board, the teacher may manipulate the board and tokens. As student understanding of the token board increases, allow the student to manipulate the board and tokens.

Token boards can be used in a variety of ways and lend themselves easily to many different situations. How do you use them in your teaching?

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We all work with struggling readers, especially in Special Education.  In previous posts, I wrote about working on improving skills in comprehension. You can find SEQUENCING here and MAIN IDEA here.
 Today I want to focus on those students that have reading decoding issues. 
 No matter what reading issues students have, we want to make sure they receive all components of reading instruction. Our kids often come to us reading several years behind their grade level as or not reading at all. We want to make sure they get a well-planned reading instruction, not just instruction in the area in which they are behind.
What are some things we can do in our reading blocks to help these kids?

📘Break up the independent reading time into several different smaller timed sections. The kids could spend a small segment reading with a partner. 
     📗Try letting the student listen to a partner read and then reading the same selection to their partner.
     📙Have them listen to stories online at sites such as on STORYLINE ONLINE  , or  JUST BOOKS READALOUD . One of my favorites for many years is  RAZKidsRaz-Kids does require a  membership fee, but is well worth it. On Raz-Kids which part of the A-Z Learning, students can listen to books being read for practice and even record their reading so teachers can track the progress.  
     📕 Centers - If you use reading centers which is a great way to get in reading practice be sure your students have the ability to do the center individually or if pairing partners, keep students with similar reading levels together.
     📗 File folders games are an excellent way to work on reading decoding skills. They can be specifically tailored to the ability level of the student. I used a color code system when setting up my file folder centers. For example; Reading file folders all had a triangle on them then all the reading file folders were in colored folders such as red for beginning, green for emergent and so on. 

Word Work
Providing time for students to practice working with words is extremely important. Word Work gives them time to play with the word, practice and explore all the possibilities. While there are way too many to mention in this post, here are some of my favorites.
What are some great ideas for Word Work time that you use?

     👉Foam Letters - these provide great tactile reinforcement and are great for letter sound work.
👉Letter Stamps - kids love these and these are a quite well used of capitals but also come in lowercase as well. These are a super way to practice stamping words. They are flexible to use when teaching any phonetic sound and kids adore stamping the letters. To spice things up I have different color inks the kid can use and this becomes a real higlight of center work for the kids.
Make it fun and flexible with easy activities such as these. They are easy to set up and extremely flexible no matter what phonetic skill you are working on. 

Reading comprehension is one of the most essential skills to teach, yet one of the most complex. It is an essential skill, not just in the subject of reading but many other subjects as well.
Sequencing is a key component in comprehension strategies. It helps us find meaning in the text we read, not only as students in reading and school but in a multitude of situations in real life.

What Is Sequencing?

📚 Sequencing is one of the core skills that help us to comprehend and make sense of what we read.
📚 It is identifying the parts of the story, such as what happens first, second,
        third and last.
 📚 It is the beginning, middle and ending of a story.

When we sequence what is read, we find meaning in what is read by using the details of the text, the order of the events and keywords to make sense of what we read in a larger context.
We use the parts of the text such as beginning, middle and end of the passage as well as keywords in passages such as first, then, later, afterward, finally and in the end, to place the details in order in the bigger scheme of what is being read.

Why is Sequencing Important?

In order to remember things we read and share with others, it's important to be able to tell things in order. Sequencing helps the information be more organized thereby making the retelling easier to understand. 
Recalling the information in chunks such as beginning, middle and end makes it easier to tell and remember.

What to do
Integrate sequencing into other areas of your teaching. 

Use great sequencing stories to introduce and practice sequencing.
Here are just a few books that work well to teach, practice and have fun with sequencing. Having taught primary age students for much of my career, one of my favorites is
 📚The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

 📚Bring the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
 📚If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joff Numeroff
 📚There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

Many of my students had very low reading levels but I still wanted them to be able to sequence events and ideas. We started our work at the picture level. Here is a great simple way to introduce and practice sequencing at the picture level.


Pick an activity such as cooking or a science experiment. These lend themselves well to using a follow-up activity of putting the steps in order or even retelling how they were done.
Graphic organizers are a great way to begin writing and putting the events of what happened in the activity in order.


Math provides an optimal method of integrating sequencing, math skills, directions and more. Take an easy recipe such as making no bake cookies or jello or putting together a snack. 
Perform these with the group, then have them illustrate the steps and the order in which they were done. Its also a great time to emphasize how important order is since often when we put cookies together in the wrong order, the cookies do not turn out well. 
Some great recipes I have used for this include:
Rice Krispies treats

Reindeer Poop Cookies - while these cookies may need a different name in your classroom they are great fun. 

Here is a great resource for no bake ideas. 


Science is an excellent opportunity for working on sequencing skills. Practice sequencing following the steps of an experiment. Work on retelling how the experiment was done. Drawing pictures of the steps of an experiment is an awesome way to integrate science and sequencing.
That's all for now! 
Happy Sequencing!

Mary Ann

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