Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Bamboo Story and Positive Behavior Support

I'm currently involved in an intensive Positive Behavior Support (PBS) training. Yesterday was the first day of our training and the facilitators were laying the foundation and the ideas that improving challenging behavior and creating a classroom climate for emotional literacy often takes a long time. There are no quick fixes.

This reminded me of the Bamboo Story. A collegue gave me a copy of this story quite a few years ago. It was hanging behind my desk as a gentle reminder for my assistant and me. I have no idea what happened to it. It probably fell down at some point and accidentally got thrown away. I've tried to find the same story online, but to no avail. Here is what I remember and the message I took from the story I received so long ago.

The Bamboo Story:

Once upon a time there was a farmer who planted some bamboo seeds. Each day he diligently cared for his bamboo seeds in the hope that he would see the fruits of his labor in wonderful bamboo growth.

The first year passed with daily care. And yet nothing happened. No bamboo sprouted.

The farmer was undaunted. He continued his daily watering, weeding and care of his bamboo seeds.

The second year passed and nothing happened.

At this point the farmer was beginning to feel discouraged. He had consistently worked; nurturing and caring for his bamboo seeds, and yet he saw no growth.

The third year passed and suddenly his bamboo was growing a foot each month. By the end of the year his bamboo was over 12 feet tall! Finally, the farmer had evidence of his growth.
So the question is, did the bamboo grow 12 feet in that final year when the growth was evident and measured? Or did the bamboo grow 12 feet in 3 years through the daily care?

It is said that during the first two years the bamboo IS growing. It is said that the bamboo is growing roots below the ground that are a foundation strong enough to support the future growth spurt. It is said that growth was occuring as the farmer was caring for the seeds, the farmer just couldn't see it.

My recent training in PBS strategies made me think of this story again. Often it takes a long time for children with challenging behaviors to demonstrate skills of regulating their own behavior, resolving conflict or problem solving.

So as we begin our journey with positive behavior support, we as teachers must persist as the farmer did. Continually providing the daily care and nurturing of our students' emotional literacy. Those students may leave our classrooms without us seeing evidence of their growth. But perhaps, they grow by leaps and bounds one year. Perhaps those years of daily care including work on emotional vocabulary, directly and indirectly teaching social skills and providing support was a foundation for that growth. And perhaps the child's skills grew over the course of several years, but we just saw evidence of it in one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Block Play

Today was a great day. Not only did I get to hear Ron Clark speak this morning, but this afternoon, my assistant and I actually finished a project that has been on our to do list for two years. Hooray for us!

We have have been wanting to create a book that will provide visual support for children playing in the block area.

We have a few students who have difficulty figuring out what to do and how to play in the block area. Often one of us will play with the students and help them make choices and decisions. But just as frequently, we are working in other areas of the classroom and students are independently playing in the block area. By creating the book, we are hoping to make the area more accessible to more students.

We started off with the resource book "Beyond Centers and Circle Time." There is an excellent section on "Construction Play" that includes an observation scale of simple to complex block structures.

We used this scale to reproduce some similar structures using our classroom materials. We tried to create structures of varying complexity so that children of varying ability levels could use the idea book. We then took pictures with our digital camera and uploaded the images to a PowerPoint. The book was then printed, laminated, bound and placed in the block area. You can download our book here.

We also only used a few pictures within the book. The concept of the book is to help the child get started, not to dictate or direct his/her play. (The pictures on the right are a few that we used in the book.)

Since we haven't used it yet, I'll have to update you on the level of success. Hopefully, we can teach our students how to use the book and then increase levels of self directed play and independence.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

File Sharing and Visual Supports

A few people have mentioned that they are interested in seeing some of the resources that my friend Shannon and I used when we presented our workshop session at the Florida Council for Exceptional Children Conference.

I have uploaded a few of them at 4shared.com.

FCEC Visual Supports PowerPoint

Instructions for Make It/Take It items.


Independent Goal Templates

Rule Board

Learning Treasures

Belinda Mooney recently wrote a post about sharing blogs.

If you have clicked on any of the links that I have included in my Pirate Lessons post, you may have already seen some of the great ideas and materials that she posts on her websites.

If you're looking for printables or ideas check out her site, Learning Treasures.