I am a huge fan of student self-monitoring! Whenever possible, students should be self-monitoring. While my focus of this post is on self-monitoring behavior, students should also be self-monitoring their academics too!
Self-monitoring is SO powerful! It makes students more conscientious of how often their behavior occurs, holds them accountable, decreases behaviors, teaches them independence and the best part for teachers, it puts the data collection in your students' hands; allowing them to collect your data for you! Who wouldn't want someone else to take their data, right!?
When we are constantly reminded of something over and over, we tend to change it or remember it. If you, the teacher, is the only one monitoring their behavior, are they even aware of how often they are engaging in a behavior?? Let's say I have a student that hand flaps. If I silently mark a tally every time she hands flaps, yeah, I've got my data, but how am I teaching her not to hand flap? Or furthermore, how do I teach her how to stop hand flapping!? Self-monitoring also teaches the appropriate behavior to your students!!!
I can also say from firsthand experience, when students monitor their own behavior, behaviors diminish at a much quicker rate. Depending on the behavior, sometimes in a matter of days. For instance, I recently broke a student from putting his hands in his pants in 4 days, because he got tired of going all the way across the room to mark his chart every time he did it. As students become more conscientious of their behavior, I see them begin to catch themselves and refrain from engaging in the behavior.
Here are some different examples of how I have my students self-monitor their behaviors. Keep in mind...just like we have to differentiate everything in our classrooms, self-monitoring is no different.
This is my utmost favorite data collection tool that I use in my classroom. I simply LOVE the way it graphs itself. You'll see a sample below.
This is the one I used for my student that was putting his hands in his pants. Each time he engaged in this behavior, I say, "Go mark your chart, your hands are in your pants." He puts a line through the next number for the date and at the end of each day, I circle the last number marked and connect the circles for an instant graph! It doesn't get much easier than that! And by all means, we do not want to make it convenient for them, so I always place the chart on the other side of the room, requiring them to get up, walk to it, and mark it. This is very important!
I'm sure some of you are saying, "My students wouldn't be able to that." A third of my students in grades 3-5 are high functioning, so they are able to do this, and for some I do hand-over-hand. For others that don't get this and need something more visual, I use this self-monitoring tool, which is the same concept.
For my students that have more aggressive and defiant behaviors and are escalated by being asked or may even refuse to mark a chart, these kids LOVE their "Cool Points Charts!" And I do too! This is second favorite tool for self-monitoring.
This is one I am currently using with a newer student that just joined The Bender Bunch Family in December due to behaviors only. I have had great success with my Cool Points Charts and have been using these with my students for over 4 years! Every hour he and I do a "Cool Points Check." He fills it out. If he did it, he gets 3 points, if he did it sometimes, he gets 1 point, and if he didn't do it, he gets 0 points. Then, he gets the reinforcement that matches his points earned on the right. This allows for even those most aggressive and challenging students to still reap some reward and feel some success in life by at least earning a simple snack for trying. Just one point earns this child a snack for his efforts, but again I differentiate these depending on the student and the severity of their behaviors. He is self-monitoring his behaviors and these are filed in his binder as data....and might I add, his transformation has been remarkable. He can't wait to check his Cool Points every hour.
This is a great self-monitoring tool that I use with students that have trouble marking the frequency chart, but can color, and only have up to 10 incidences per day. Each time they engage in the behavior, they color in a rectangle.
This one is like above, but for students that engage in their behavior more frequently and need to self-monitor each hour.
The template below is copied on the back of the charts above and lists the student's pre-determined reinforcer menu according to reduced number of incidences. So, on this one it is the opposite of the Cool Points Charts. They will earn their best reinforcer based upon less points.
For students that are having difficulties in Specials; Art, P.E., Library, etc. I use these. With these, students receive their best "A" reinforcer for "Awesome," a smaller "B" reinforcer for "OK," and in this case, "No Reward" for "Not Cool" Behavior. Again, it really depends on the student as to how I critique these.
This one is like above, but adapted for students that need more visuals, and not words.
Some teachers like to use a Behavior Contract. I personally rarely use this tool for my students, as they need daily, minute-by-minute, or hour-by-hour monitoring, but it serves as a great tool for students that may have less frequent behaviors that don't occur on a daily, minute, or hourly basis and for students with long term goals.
Follow along next month where I will be posting about free classroom websites to use in your classroom and how I run and color code my differentiated classroom centers.