Category Archives: > Behavior Issues

The ILAUGH Model: Social Thinking

 by Michelle Garcia Winner

 The ILAUGH Model of Social Thinking is a core (and critical) framework created and developed by Michelle Garcia Winner to help professionals and parents understand and think about the struggles faced by those with social learning challenges. The Framework is based on an extensive literature base of both seminal and current research and represents the foundation of all Social Thinking concepts.  ILAUGH is an acronym for the research-based concepts that contribute to challenges in those with social learning issues across academic, community, vocational, and social contexts.  The sections of the ILAUGH are not only grounded in the literature, but also represent a rich clinical base. Although the ILAUGH Model is divided into six key areas, there is commonly an overlap between and within each of the sections.

I = Initiation of Communication

(Kranz & McClannahan, 1993; Rao, Beidel, & Murray, 2008; Whalen, Schreibman, & Ingersoll 2006)

Initiation of communication is the ability to use one’s language skills (verbal and nonverbal) to start (or initiate) something that is not routine.  This can be in the form of difficulty asking for help, seeking clarification, executing a new task, and entering and exiting a peer group.  An individual’s ability to talk about his or her own topics of interest can be in sharp contrast to how that person communicates when in need of support or clarification. Yet, these two skills – asking for help and understanding how to join a group for functional or personal interaction – are paramount for future success in the workplace, academic endeavors and relationships.

L= Listening With Eyes and Brain

(Jones & Carr, 2004; Klin, Jones, Schultz, & Volkmar, 2003; Kunce & Mesibov, 1998; MacDonald et al., 2006; Marshall & Fox, 2006; Mundy & Crowson, 1997; Saulnier & Klin, 2007

From a social perspective, listening is more than just receiving auditory information. It routinely requires the integration of visual information with auditory information within the context in order to understand the full meaning of the message being conveyed, or at least make an educated guess about what is being said when the message cannot be interpreted literally. This is also referred to as “active listening” or whole body listening (Truesdale, 1990). Classrooms depend heavily on having all students attend nonverbally to the expectations in the classroom.

Many individuals with ASD, as well as others with social learning challenges, have technical visual processing strengths, but may struggle to comprehend information presented via the dual challenges of social visual information (reading nonverbal cues) and auditory processing.

A = Abstract and Inferential Language/Communication

(Adams, Green, Gilchrist, & Cox, 2002; Happe’, 1995; Kerbel & Grunwell, 1998; Minshew, Goldstein, Muenz & Payton, 1992; Norbury & Bishop, 2002; Rapin & Dunn, 2003; Simmons-Mackie & Damico, 2003)

Most of the language we use is not intended for literal interpretation. Our communication is peppered with idioms, metaphors, sarcasm and inferences. Societies around the world bestow awards to writers, and even comedians, who are the most creative with language. Each generation of teenagers and young adults leave a trail of new slang for consumption – most of which is abstract.

Abstract language has also crept into the digital, mass and social media markets. Our commercials, web banners, print flyers and video clips are full of abstract information that require all of us to interpret and infer the meaning. Do people really mean what they say in advertising? How do we know a good deal from a sham? It’s incredibly complicated and yet most of us can easily understand the underlying meaning.  And, it is a mistake to assume that individuals with strengths in factual knowledge, but underlying social thinking challenges, understand the non-literal use of language so prevalent in our society. In fact, many don’t!

Active interpretation of the motives and intentions of others emerges in the first year of life and expands in complexity thereafter. Children learn that mom’s tone of voice speaks volumes and that attention to only her words can miss much of her message. As children grow developmentally, they understand that message interpretation depends heavily on one’s ability to “make a smart guess” based on past experiences, what they know (or don’t know) about the current person and situation, and the communication clues available. Language users assume their communicative partners are trying to figure out their messages. By third grade, neurotypical students understand that we are to infer meaning rather than expect it to be coded literally.

Individuals who struggle to interpret the abstract/inferential meaning of language also routinely struggle with academic tasks such as reading comprehension of literature (e.g., interpreting a character’s thoughts, actions and motives based on the context of the story) and written expression.

U = Understanding Perspective

(Baron-Cohen, 1995; Baron-Cohen, 2000; Baron-Cohen & Jolliffe, 1997; Flavell, 2004; Frith, & Frith, 2010; Hale & Tager-Flusberg, 2005; Kaland, Callesen, Moller-Nielsen, Mortensen, & Smith, 2007; Spek, Scholte, & Van Berckelaer-Omnes, 2010)

The ability to interpret others’ perspectives or beliefs, thoughts and feelings across contexts is critical to social learning. It is central to group participation in the social, academic or vocational world. Individuals with social learning challenges are often highly aware of their own perspective, but may struggle to see another’s point of view.   

To understand the differing perspectives of others requires that one’s Theory of Mind (perspective taking) work quickly and efficiently. Most neurotypically developing students acquire a solid foundation in ToM between the ages of 4 to 6 years old. Perspective taking is not one thing, it represents many things happening all at once meaning it is a synergistic and dynamic process. A definition of perspective taking can include the ability to consider your own and others:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Physically coded intentions
  • Language based intentions
  • Prior knowledge and experiences
  • Belief systems
  • Personality
  • While considering all of this with regards to the specific situation being considered.

The ability to take perspective is key to participation in any type of group (social or academic). It is also a critical component when interpreting information that requires understanding of other’s minds, such as reading comprehension, history, social studies, etc. However, like all other concepts explored in the ILAUGH model, one’s ability to take perspective is not a black or white matter.

G = Gestalt Processing/Getting the Big Picture

(Fullerton, Stratton, Coyne & Gray, 1996; Happe’ & Frith, 2006; Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009; Pelicano, 2010; Plaisted, 2001; Shah & Frith, 1993; van Lang, Bouma, Sytema, Kraijer, & Minderaa 2006)

Conceptual processing is a key component to successful social and academic functioning. It is critical to be able to be a part of and follow the group plan or share an imagination.  Due to the fact that information is conveyed through concepts and not just facts, it is important that one is able to tie individual pieces of information into the greater concept. For example, when engaged in a conversation, the participants should be able to intuitively determine the underlying concept(s) being discussed, as well as identify the specific details that are shared. Similarly, when reading, one has to follow the overall meaning rather than just collect a series of seemingly unrelated facts. As with many elements of social cognition, this ability relies heavily on strong executive function skills. As a result, difficulty with organizational strategies often stems from problems with conceptual processing. Weaknesses in the development of this skill can greatly impact one’s ability to formulate written expression, summarize reading passages, and manage one’s homework load, as well as derive the intended meaning from a social conversation.

H = Humor and Human Relatedness

Gutstein, 2001; Greenspan, & Wieder, 2003; Losh & Capps, 2006; Loukusa et al., 2007; Ozonoff, & Miller, 1996; Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin, & Laurent, 2003; Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin, Laurent & Rydell, 2006; Williams & Happe’, 2010)

Human relatedness is at the heart of social interaction. Most of us desire some form of social interaction and our students, clients and family members are no exception. The struggle is having the ability to relate to other’s minds, emotions and needs. Establishing the concept of human relatedness is essential before advancing in any lessons.  Most of the clients with whom we work with have a very good sense of humor, but they often feel anxious because they miss many of the subtle cues that help them to understand how to use their humor successfully with others. It is important for educators/parents to work compassionately with humor to help minimize the anxiety the individual may experience. It is also not uncommon for many to struggle with using humor inappropriately and direct lessons targeting this concept are necessary.

Source Social Thinking:

Orton-Gillingham tutoring (reading and writing skills) in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

Thanksgiving: ADHD Tips

By Lexi Walters Wright at

[Reading tutoring in Columbus OH: see below]

Interrupted Schedules

If your family is traveling for Thanksgiving, your child may be sleeping in a strange place and following an unfamiliar schedule. Even if you’re hosting, your family’s routines may be disrupted. That’s rough for kids with ADHD.

DO This: Stick to your child’s routines as much as possible. Try to arrange travel or guest schedules so that he eats and sleeps when he usually does. And prepare your child in advance for any disruptions you foresee. Give him an overview of what will be happening beforehand, and then remind him at each stage what’s coming next.

Waiting for the Meal

When the whole holiday is centered on a single meal, the hours beforehand can feel like eternity for children with attention issues. The anticipation may make them bored or cranky, which can lead to squabbles—or tantrums.

DO This: Before Thanksgiving, enlist relatives’ help to line up some morning activities. Could a grandparent or uncle take your child to the park? Might some older cousins set up a family game for the younger kids? Let the kids know in advance what’ll be happening when. This way dinner won’t be the only thing for them to look forward to.

Company Commotion

If your Thanksgiving involves a lot of people, your child may feel upset by the noise and activity. And kids with attention issues may get frustrated if they’ve settled down to read or work on a project and the hustle and bustle distracts them.

DO This: Whether you’re home or away, find your child an “out” spot. Agree on a place where he can go for a set period of time to be alone and listen to headphones, play a game on his phone, or read.

Preoccupied Parents!

Young kids with attention issues often need constant direction from adults. That’s hard when you’re trying to finish making Thanksgiving dinner and can’t stop to play with your child.

DO This: First, try to get as much as possible done before Thanksgiving Day. Make what you can in advance, buy the pies, go potluck for side dishes. That way, you can set aside time to check in periodically with your child. And delegate. Is there a relative who’d be happy to oversee your child for the morning? Give him coloring books, art supplies, puzzles or a new DVD so he can keep your child occupied while you’re busy.

Take Turns Talking

Kids with attention issues may talk nonstop before, during and after dinner, annoying guests. If your child is impulsive, he may interrupt family members’ stories to tell his own. If a grandparent challenges him, he might say something rude.

DO This: Before Thanksgiving, role-play appropriate ways your child might start, join and end conversations with guests. Consider coming up with a code phrase or signal you can use to clue him in if he starts taking over the conversation.

Sitting Still through the Long Meal

Lengthy holiday meals are especially tricky for children with attention issues, who may find it hard to sit through “grace,” let alone a multi-course meal. Add unfamiliar foods and grown-up discussions, and you’ve got the makings for a meltdown.

DO This: Relax your expectations. Thanksgiving isn’t the day to expect perfect behavior, so seat him at the kids’ table. He’ll do best with some parameters, such as not interrupting the adults. But let him wander between courses. If he’s a teen, see if he wants to be “in charge” of keeping dinner fun for the younger guests.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ For Thanksgiving: Research on “Gratitude”

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An article by John Tierney in the NY Times offers advice for getting into the holiday spirit.  It even suggests that it’s possible to keep a good frame of mind even in the midst of dysfunctionally behaving loved ones.  

…what if you’re not the grateful sort?  I sought guidance from the psychologists who have made gratitude a hot research topic.

  • Start with “gratitude lite.”  Researchers at the University of California asked people to keep a once-a-week journal listing 5 things they were grateful for.  After two months, those who kept the lists faithfully were more optimistic, happier and reported fewer physical problems than those who did not.  Researcher Robert Emmons advises “If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”
  • Don’t confuse gratitude with indebtedness.  Returning a favor is not gratitude; indebtedness is more of a negative feeling, according to psychologists.  At Northeastern University, researchers  found that students who were helped when their computers were sabotaged were likelier to help someone else — even a complete stranger.
  • Try it on your family.  Says Sonya Lyubomirsky of the University of California,  “Do one small and unobtrusive thoughtful or generous thing for each member of your family on Thanksgiving.  Say thank you for every thoughtful or kind gesture.  Express your admiration for someone’s skills or talents — wielding that kitchen knife so masterfully… and truly listen, even when your grandfather is boring you again with the same World War II story.”
  • Don’t counterattack.  If you’re bracing for insults, consider an experiment at the University of Kentucky.  Some subjects were praised when they handed in a piece of writing, while others received a scathing evaluation.  Later, those who were insulted retaliated meanly — unless they were  subjects who had been instructed to write about things they were grateful for!  Those people were not bothered by the nasty criticism (or at least they didn’t feel the need to retaliate meanly).  Nathan DeWall, who led the study, says “Gratitude…helps people become less aggressive.  It’s an equal opportunity emotion.  Anyone can experience it and profit from it.”
  • Share the feeling.  A researcher at the University of Miami, Dr. David McCulloch,  says “More than any other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship.  It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person.  Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.”

For this entire article by John Tierney in the Times on Nov 22, visit

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ NOV 29 Rick Lavoie Free Conference on Social Skills

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Not too late —OCECD “9th Annual Partnering for Progress: Understanding and Promoting Social Skills and Positive Behavior for Children with Learning Challenges” Conference by RICK LAVOIE is almost full. Hurry and register today at

This is a FREE conference, FREE lunch, and FREE parking. Certificates awarding four contact hours will be provided. NOV 29, at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North Hotel.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email

+ Teachers: What You Can Do About Bullying

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  •  Ask students about bullying.  Survey students on a regular basis.  Ask whether they’re being harassed, or if they’ve witnessed harassment.  It should be easy for students to come to an adult and talk about harassment.  1) Build  staff-student relationships.  2)  Place suggestion boxes where students can provide input anonymously.  3)  Administer  school-wide surveys in which students can report confidentially on peers who bully or on the children whom they harass.   Also remember that the key is to know what bullying accomplishes for a bully.  Does he or she want to gain status?  Does the bully use aggression to control others?
  • Ask students about their relationships.    It is a fact that bullying is a destructive, asymetric relationship.  Learn who students associate with, who their friends are, who  they dislike.  Learn who are perceived by students to be popular and unpopular.  Connect with students who appear friendless.  Staff members’ knowledge of students’ relationships varies widely; they tend to underestimate the level of aggression among peers.
  • Build democratic classroom and school climates.  Identify student leaders who are able to encourage their peers to stand up against bullying.  Determine whether the social norms of students are really effective against harassment.  Train teachers to better understand and manage student social dynamics and better handle students’ aggression. Put in place clear and consistent consequences — this is a must.   Master teachers should build relationships, trust, and a sense of community, as well as promoting academic success. 
  • Be an informed consumer of anti-bullying curriculums.  There are many anti-bullying interventions, and lots of them are successful, but be aware of significant caveats.  For example, some bullies would benefit from services beyond bullying reduction.  Other programs might work well in Europe but not as well in the US.  And most anti-bullying programs haven’t yet been rigorously evaluated.  Inform yourself when investing in a curriculum.  Investigate claims of success.  Remember that  your most valuable tool is your background knowledge — your deep understanding of your students’ relationships.
  • Remember that bullying is also a problem of values.  Implement an intellectually challenging character education  or socio-emotional learning curriculum in your school.  Students must learn how to achieve their goals by being assertive, not aggressive.  Teach staff, students —  even family members — how to resolve conflicts with civility.

sole source: this content was a sidebar in Philip C. Rodkin’s article in the September 2011 ASCD magazine Educational Leadership.  Visit

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021, or email

+ Bullying: The Power of Peers

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Philip C. Rodkin wrote a version of a government report on bullying for the September 2011 Issue of ASCD’s publication Educational Leadership.

Rodkin first explains the use of the words peer and bully, which at first glance, don’t appear to belong together.  

A “peer” means someone of the same standing, a social equal. A “bully” is seizing power  in a social situation.

It’s this sense of inequality, abuse, and unfairness — and of a peer culture valuing all the wrong things — that makes bullying incompatible with the democratic spirit; all youth should be free to learn in peace and safety, making the most of their talents and goals.

Children and youth (and some adults) use bullying to acquire resources and to demonstrate to an audience that they are the ones who dominate.  This is where peers come into the picture.  Bullies can’t succeed unless witnesses play along.  If they ignore the bullying, or intervene to stop the action, the bully is deprived of his objective.

Presumably bullying at school occurs under the watchful eye of responsible adults, so how peers and adults act in response to bullying is crucial.  And it is even better if these others can anticipate the bullying in advance of the event.

Research has informed parents and  educators about the structural situations in which bullying occurs.  But more is needed to determine how to use this information effectively in making our schools a safe place for kids. 

Bullies Live in Two Social Worlds

Tom Farmer and colleagues wrote a recent article on the “two social worlds” of bullying: on one hand marginalization, and on the other, connection.

Socially marginalized bullies, they say, may be fighting against a social system that keeps them on the periphery.  Socially connected bullies use aggression to control others and garner power.

Bullies who are marginalized and unpopular are often shunted into peer groups with other bullies.  These marginalized bullies (more often boys than girls) often have a host of problems, and the bullying behavior is only one manifestation.  Bullying in their case may stem from an inability to control their impulsive actions, or it may be due to a desire to gain an elusive status. 

On the other hand, “connected” bullies belong to highly networked and integrated social worlds; they don’t lack for peer social support. 

These socially connected bullies are evenly divided between boys and girls.  They have a variety of friends.  Some but not all of those friends are bullies themselves.  These bullies strengths may  include social skills, athleticism, or physical attractiveness. 

Socially connected bullies tend to be proactive and goal-directed in their aggression.  They often have years of experience with peers, sometimes since as early as their day-care groups.

They incorporate prosocial strategies into their behavioral repertoire (e.g. reconciling with targets after conflict, or becoming less aggressive after they’ve established dominance).

Bullies who are socially connected are under-recognized as seriously aggressive.  They are frequently popularized in the media.  Of them, one group of researchers uses the words”popular, socially skilled, and competent.”

Bullying peaks in early adolescence, but the two social worlds of bullying exists through all the early grades, sometimes as early as kindergarten. 

Rodkin says

As light can be both wave and particle, aggression can be maladaptive or adaptive depending on why the aggression occurs; the time frame (that is, adaptive in the short run, but maladaptive in the long run); the consequences of the aggressive act; and one’s perspective.

Educators and parents need to ask of any bullying situation why the bullying works — from the perspective of the bully.  It is necessary to establish what goals are being served by the bullying behavior: they will differ for each child in each different situation.   

The Bully-Victim Relationship 

Criminologists always establish first the relationship between any victim and the perpetrator.   In any bully/victim situation the question is rarely asked.  We know very little about what is built in to any bullying event.

The focus has traditionally been on identifying “bully,” “victim,” and “bully-victim” categories. Time is spent determining such things as “prevalence rates,” and “behavioral characteristics” of bullying incidents.

Bullies and victims therefore are put into separate boxes, and their separateness is spotlighted.  The implication is that there is no known relationship between a bully and a victim — that the targeting is random.

But the reality is more complex.  Bullies and victims often have a previously existing relationship that lead up to the incidents. 

If these facts had been made clear, knowledgeable adults might have been alerted to the trouble spots.

Reciprocated dislike or animosity is one clear predictor of trouble.  Potential bullies  — particularly socially connected bullies — turn their angry thoughts into aggressive behavior.  The direct that behavior then toward low-status peers whom they already dislike (and who almost certainly dislike them as well).

Time frames can be  predictable.  Socially connected children choose same-sex bullying as part of their struggle for dominance, particularly in the beginning of the school year, or between transitions from one school to another (when the social hierarchy is in flux) and it is easy to target unpopular children.

In a disturbing number of cases, aggressive boys harass girls.  Sixty percent of 5th to 7th grade girls in one study reported being bullied by boys.  Unpopular, rejected, aggressive boys are most likely to harass girls. 

In another study, 38 percent of girls who experience sexual harassment “say they first experienced it in elementary school.”

Socially connected bullies tend to demonstrate within-sex bullying and dominance behavior against unpopular targets.

“Bullying is a Social Event”

Studies show that even one good friend can help assuage the harmful consequences of harassment. 

Adults should be aware that in addition to implementing violence reduction therapies and social skills trainings, social ties of marginalized bullies should be spotlighted.  Broaden these networks, where feasible, to include a greater variety of peers.  

Rodkin says he refers to socially connected bullies as “hidden in plain sight.”  Because these types of bullies affiliate with a wide variety of peers, there is an unhealthy potential for widespread acceptance of bullying. 

Debra Pepler and colleagues call this the “theater of bullying,”  which encompasses not only the bully-victim dyad, but also children who encourage, reinforce  and silently witness the abuse. 

Pepler says “Bullying is a social event in the classroom and on the playground.” In almost 90 percent of observed cases there was an audience of peers.

This silent, mocking audience grows exponentially, in frightening anonymity, with cyber-bullying.  Thus the problem of bullying is also a problem of the unresponsive bystander, whether that bystander is a classmate who finds harassment funny, a peer who sits on the sidelines afraid to get involved, or an educator who sees bullying as just another part of growing up.

One report finds that socially connected bullies target children who will likely not be defended. 

Peers who do intervene in bullying can make a real difference.  While studies show that a defender may be  successful in more than 50 percent of such attempts,  bystanders appear to stand up to the aggressor in only 20 percent of incidents.

In addition

[o]ne good friend can make a crucial difference to children who are harassed.  Victims who are friends with a non-victimized peer are less likely to internalize problems as a result…for example, being sad, depressed or anxious.

Even 1st graders who have a friend but who are otherwise socially isolated seem to be protected from the adjustment problems that other isolated children may suffer.

Surprisingly, one study found that intervention which involves peers (using students as peer mediators, engaging bystanders to disapprove and offer support to the victim) were found to be associated with increases in victimization.

In fact of 20 program elements included in 44 school-based programs, work with peers was the only program element associated with significantly more bullying and victimization.  (There were significant and positive effects for parent training and school meetings in reducing bullying.)

For peer mediation to be effective, students who are chosen to be mediators should probably be popular and prosocial.

The most innovative, intensive, grassroots uses of peer relationships to reduce bullying (one is the You Have the Power! program in Montgomery County, Maryland) have not been scientifically evaluated.  This work must be undertaken.

Teachers should ask what kind of bully they face when dealing with a victimization problem.  Is the bully a member of a group?  Is he or she a group leader?  How are the bullies and victims situated in the “peer ecology”?

Educators who exclusively target peripheral, antisocial cliques as the engine of school violence problems may leave intact other  groups that are more responsible for mainstream peer support of bullying.

Educators should periodically talk with students and ask about their social relationships and whether bullying is present.

Charles Payne makes the point in his book “So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools,” that even the best, most rigorous and most validated intervention may not be successful: weak social infrastructure and dysfunctional organizational environments must also be taken into account.

The task ahead is to help educators recognize, understand and help guide children’s relationships.  We must determine ways that bullies and the children they harass can be folded into the whole social fabric of the school.

With guidance from caring, engaged adults, youth can organize themselves as a force that makes bullying less effective as a means of social connection or as an outlet for alienation.

sole source: Philip C. Rodkin’s article in ASCD’s September 2011 issue of Educational Leadership.  Visit

The full report from which this article was taken was commissioned to be presented to the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, which met on March 10, 2011. 

The conference brought together President Obama, the first lady, members of the cabinet, as well as youth, parents, researchers, school officials and other groups.  The goal was to craft a national strategy for reducing and ending bullying in schools.

tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email  

+ Teachers: Interactive Modeling

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Margaret Berry Wilson, in an ASCD Express online piece, reminds teachers that it’s easy to assume that students know how to behave and how to do routine activities.

But — especially for the youngest students — these activities probably have not come up for discussion at home.  And while older students may have learned routines in earlier grades, they probably don’t know how things work in THIS year’s classroom.

Wilson says that in order to have a safe, secure and happy classroom, we need to deliberately teach children how classroom routines should actually look and sound.

One effective technique is called “interactive modeling.”  These are the steps you might use to teach student to line up safely — and what they might look and sound like.

  • Describe a positive behavior you will model.  “When I tell you to line up by the door, it’s important that you move directly and quietly to your place in the line.  Watch while I demonstrate.”
  • Model the behavior.  Walk quietly to the door without bumping into or touching things.  You don’t need to narrate as you model.
  • Ask students what they noticed.  “What did you notice about how I moved into line?”  Children name what they saw and heard.  (If necessary, prompt students with “What did you notice about my hands?”  or :What did I do once I got into the line-up spot?”
  • Ask student volunteers to model the same behavior.  “Who else can show us how to move directly and quietly into line?”
  • Ask students what they noticed.  “How did Quentin walk to his spot in line?”
  • Have the class practice.  “When I call you by name, walk directly and quietly to the door and line up, just as you saw us do.”
  • Provide feedback.  “You did it!  You all walked quietly and safely, and you kept your hands to yourself.  Good work!”

Keys to Successful Modeling

  1. Give clear, specific instructions.  Don’t say “Sit safely,” show exactly how you want them to sit.  Rather than saying “Use a quiet voices,” show what a quiet voice sounds like.
  2. Use a script.  You can write out what you will do and say (this also helps you talking to much!
  3. Follow through consistently.  If you’ve modeled the lining up quietly, don’t ignore it when noise levels rise the next time.  Remind them of the expectations.  Re-model if necessary.
  4. Keep expectations realistic.  When students have difficulty with a routine despite reminders and re-modeling, think whether the expectations are too complicated.  For example, “no talking in hallways” could be virtually impossible.  How about “Walk quietly?” (But do model what volume of speaking is acceptable.)
  5. Give plenty of opportunities for practice.  Make sure students have repeated opportunities to practice a new behavior.  Keep the practice fun and light.  You could have kids race the clock to see how quickly and quietly they can get in line.  

And let students know when you see them improving and doing well. 

Say, “That was a great job of lining up and keeping your voices to a whisper!”  This reinforces expected behaviors and also show student that you see and appreciate what they do.

sole source: Margaret Berry Wilson’s article in ASCD Express, Vol. 6, No 7.

Wilson is a Responsive Classroom professional development specialist with 15 years of teaching kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.  She is the author of “What Every 2nd Grade Teacher Needs to Know About Setting Up and Running a Classroom.”

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email