BRIGHT SPOTS

Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Sometimes a student’s negative experience on the bus can set the tone for the whole day.  At Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Pearl River, PBIS Coach Kathleenann Cool reports that they were able to improve overall behavior on school buses, resulting in significant decreases in bus discipline referrals.

What practices led to this improvement?

Lincoln Avenue Elementary School created a Bus Incentive Program through which students on a bus could earn a Green Light for meeting the posted expectations for being Safe, Responsible and Respectful on the bus. For each Green Light a bus earns, it moves a cinderblock distance around the school, allowing student to visually track their positive progress. If the whole bus doesn’t earn a Green Light, individual students on the bus can still earn Lion’s Paws from the school-wide PBIS acknowledgement system for their individual behavior.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Students can successfully learn socially appropriate behaviors when desired behaviors are taught and posted.
  • Students will continue to demonstrate these behaviors when they receive frequent and visual acknowledgements for demonstrating those behaviors.
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Marie Considine, a Resource Room teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Mahopac, is thrilled to see an increased level of engagement among the students in her Resource Room. While her students have always been interested in scientific articles involving mysterious natural occurrences and unusual animals from around the globe, they are now excited to share their work and the connections they have made to the text out loud.  They are talking to each other about sections of text that challenge them and analyzing what they think other students their age might struggle with, like multiple meaning words and unclear topics.

What brought this change to her Resource Room?

“The Reciprocal Teaching protocol,” says Marie, “has gotten my students to delve deeply into the text to come up with higher order questions to ask the group.” The process is simple, but explicit instruction in both the strategy and underlying reading comprehension skills are critical for student success. Students learn the skills for four specific roles — Summarizer, Clarifier, Questioner and Predictor — and then rotate through the roles for each section of text. Marie says students develop confidence and “are eager to try a new ‘job’ each time they read.” They have learned to develop their own questions about the text as they are reading.  While Marie had tried reciprocal teaching in the past, the bookmarks and checklists Marie received in the training improved the process significantly. Going forward, Marie plans to build her students’ meta-cognitive skills by having them label the types of higher order questions they develop as they read.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Students thrive when they are explicitly taught, and given time to practice, self-directed comprehension strategies.
  • Students solidify learning in structured interactions with their peers.
  • Both teachers and students benefit from self-assessment checklist and prompts as they learn new processes.

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