When Nicole was in seventh grade, she wrote this poem as a class assignment. Click on the image above to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read the entire sample.
Jordan wrote this modern tall tale when he was an eighth grader in my class. Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read this entire writing sample.
Tyson found this prompt at WritingFix and wrote a story independently; we got it published too! Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read his entire story.
Sarah, a seventh grader at the time, wrote this interesting setting description, inspired by a prompt at WritingFix. Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read her entire sample.
Dena Robinson (my maiden name)
C&I 634: Classroom Management
DEVIL OR DOLL: THE BART J. STORY
One day while working at Hunter Lake Elementary School, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Bart J., a child who attends our morning Latch Key program, exhibited two very different types of behavior. One minute, Bart could be behaving like a total doll, sharing cards and other toys with his peers, and keeping his voice at a low roar. The next minute, Bart could be observed hitting his peers, grabbing toys and screaming. In fact, his entire countenance would change, a mischievous grin would appear where the sweet smile had once been, and a menacing cackle, which could be compared to Snidely Whiplash's laugh, could be heard. We tried numerous techniques to curb Bart's inappropriate behavior, but to no avail. We tried removing him from the situation (a.k.a. time out), taking away the cards he used for his favorite card games, and separating him from his friends. None of these techniques worked, in fact his improper behavior increased. We were beginning to make connections between this child and his namesake Bart Simpson, from the cartoon The Simpsons, (after all, this Bart’s sister's name was Maggie too!) and found ourselves tempted to label him a discipline problem.
Fortunately for Bart, I began reading Karen Pryor's book, Don't Shoot the Dog, and decided to try out some of her suggestions for positive reinforcement, instead of the different types of punishment we were using before. I remember thinking, "Why not give these techniques that Karen Pryor is advocating a chance? Why not put a little bit of her theory into practice? All of the negative types of reinforcement and punishment have failed thus far!"
The next day at work, I informed my co-workers of my plan and they wholeheartedly approved. That same day, I began implementing positive reinforcement techniques and encouragement when Bart exhibited desirable behaviors, such as sharing, talking (instead of yelling), and discussing problems instead of i mmediately hitting someone. I thought I would begin by implementing Karen Pryor's Method #Seven and #Eight. I observed Bart that day, and decided that one of his prime motivators for acting out was attention. By acting out, he wished to get attention not only from the staff, but from his friends as well. I wanted to curb his undesirable behavior by showing him that there were other positive ways of getting attention.
As soon as Bart arrived that day, I began observing his behavior, and when I saw him displaying any good behavior, would immediately reinforce him. I would place my hand on his shoulder, smile at him and say, for example, "I'm sure that Andrew appreciated when you gave him the cards when he asked,” or “I'm sure that Josh was glad that you didn't punch him in the arm
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just then." When Bart was playing cards quietly with his friends, I would walk over and tell him that because he was playing so well with his friends today; he could be in charge of picking out the morning snack, a coveted job by all children in the program. I positively reinforced the behavior that I wished him to exhibit in the mornings, and rewarded this good behavior with something that gave him a little more responsibility. I also showed Bart that he could receive more positive attention from me and his peers when he showed others respect and did not yell.
I have now been positively reinforcing Bart's "good behavior" for seven days. My co-workers and I are amazed at the change in Bart's behavior. The "bad behavior" which used to make our mornings so difficult has virtually disappeared! I wasn't even sure if I was reinforcing Bart's behavior correctly, but a definite change for the better has occurred. Of course, there could be numerous other factors that could be the cause, such as the change in the moon cycle, or a favorable alignment of the stars, but the change in Bart is apparent to all. It will be interesting to see if this "good behavior" will continue to exist after next week or next month, or if Bart will lapse back into the "mischievous little devil" routine. We know that Bart has the potential to be a doll all the time, and now that we have seen him act this way for seven days, we will accept no less! Thanks to the implementation of positive reinforcement, our mornings at Latch Key have become a much more pleasant and encouraging place to be, both for the students and the teachers. By carrying out Methods #Seven and #Eight, I was able to shape the occurrences of Bart's good behavior so that the undesirable behavior faded away. I also realized that Bart primarily wanted attention from his peers and the staff and I showed him that not only could he receive positive attention when he was being good, but he also received more attention in the form of encouragement and responsibility.
|Is this one of my students exploring this page? If so, I'd love to hear your critique of the essay I've published here; I might even give you a sticker for your writer's notebook if you do this. Don't worry, I can take it, especially if you see something I did in this essay that might have been better.