Special Education Strategy Notebook

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Self Monitoring
A. What is self monitoring?
Self monitoring is a strategy that is often used in classrooms with children who have trouble staying on task and focusing. It is a method that involves a student taking responsibility of themselves academically and behaviorally and recording when they find themselves not on task. In essence, a sheet of paper is given to a child and a noise is made at certain intervals during the class day. This noise could be something that only the specific child hears (such as in an ear piece) or it could be something that is heard by the entire class. Either way, the student who is participating in self monitoring simply puts a tally mark in a column for “on task” or “off task” on their sheet of paper every time the noise sounds off and at the end of the day both student and teacher can see how many times the student found him or herself off task. This helps put into perspective for the student how much he or she pays attention in a regular day and typically causes them to try harder to remain on task even more the following day. It is important that a teacher lets the student know exactly what is meant by “on task” and “off task” so that the student understands 100% what is expected of him or her, and it is also important that the sound itself not be distracting from the lesson. Eventually, a student can be weaned off the external cues of the sound, and will begin self monitoring without it, which is ideal. B. How do we know that self monitoring works?

Put simply, we know that self monitoring works because it has been studied over and over by numerous researchers and has been proven effective at least the majority of those times. These studies confirm that this strategy helps manage students who are off task in the classroom due to various disruptive, learning related and social behaviors. Children of many ages were tested, ranging from ages as young as 4 to kids who are in high school, and the findings were consistent. In nearly all of the tests described in the article I researched, self-monitoring was said to have “decreased off task behaviors dramatically” or “decreased inappropriate behaviors” or “decrease talking out behavior,” etc (Hallahan, D.P. & Husdon, K.). C. When should a teacher use self monitoring?

As a strategy in a school setting, self monitoring typically works best for students who have problems primarily in attention. This is not a strategy that actually helps a student learn anything in particular, so the skills for learning material has to be already within a students capability but who cannot focus or remain on task long enough to apply these said skills. In laments terms, self monitoring works best when used for applying skills not when being introduced to new ones. Self monitoring can be used successfully for students with attentional tasks in really any classroom setting. It works great for “seat work”, when a child is assigned independent work that they must take sole responsibility for finishing but can also work in a group. Group work often has other students who keep the self monitor on task, but if this were not the case self monitoring would still be helpful. D. What does a teacher need to do to implement self monitoring?

It is important that a teacher use each part of the procedure of self monitoring, including tones, recording sheets and training. Before implementing all of these procedures, a student needs to be introduced to the idea. It is imperative that a student have a good explanation of why they are required to keep record of their behavior when other students are not. A child needs to be given explicit instructions as to what he or she needs to do; this includes a description of what on task and off task are in the teacher’s terms, what the tone or sound will be, and how often the sound will go off, etc. Once the directions have been given to the child it is also important to go over the recording sheet with him or her and give examples of...
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