Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Much To Be Thankful For!

This was our 5th time at St Mary's and it was an awesome Thanksgiving week. Check out what I observed from it!

For this week at St Mary's my group did something really cool. We went around to all the other groups and asked them questions about St Mary's so that we could make a newsletter to show all the parents what we are about here at SUNY Cortland and what we are doing with the kids. It was something new but important because as physical educators we want our parents, community, and school to know what we are doing. It's important stuff!

Corn on the cob!

Towards the end of the day, my group gathered everyone up and we did a Thanksgiving dance. We actually put on the "chicken dance" instrumental and changed the lyrics around so that we were talking about Thanksgiving Day food and we could act it out. This involved the corn on the cob, the turkey, the mashed potatoes, and even pie! It was definitely fun to lead a dance with all the kids and other groups and it was something I haven't done yet. 

Have A Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Applied Behavior Analysis Conference

Last week I attended a two day Applied Behavior Analysis Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was a totally new experience for me and I gained a lot of valuable experience.

[The conference was held at the beautiful Gideon Putnum Resort]

Applied Behavior Analysis is an approach that was taken from the learning theory. In behavior analysis, the goal is to find out what is exactly causing or maintaing the behavior through the environment. The "behavior" could be anything from throwing a football, talking out in class, or eye contact. The "environment" is all the physical or social events that might have an affect on the behavior. In Applied Behavior Analysis, a behavior is targeted to be changed and is done so through different techniques. One of these techniques is called "positive reinforcement" which adds a reward to the environment after the correct behavior is done. A very cool example of this was shown on the first day of the conference:

We went into a room where Dr. Luyben, a certified behavior analyst showed a video illustrating the impact of positive reinforcement to a child with autism. The desired behaviors the man was attempting to teach her was sitting down and to reduce tantrums. The child had tantrums whenever she was given instruction. She would cry, flail her arms, and yell. After they found out what made her have tantrums, they found out what was reinforcing to her which was drink, snack, and verbal praise (A reinforcer is something that will make the desired behavior occur again). Through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis, the man had her sitting down in 18 minutes on command without showing any signs of tantrums. He did this by having her stand up, would tell her to sit down, and when she did the correct behavior a reinforcer would be given. Although she would have extreme tantrums in the beginning, the man was able to have her sit down on command without providing a reinforcer  by the end of 18 minutes. It was very remarkable. This is just one example of how effective and simple Applied Behavior Analysis can be.

[Me on the left with Brian Iwata, Ph.D]

Meeting Brian Iwata was a very cool experience. He is the professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Florida and received his Ph.D in Psychology at the State University of Florida. At the conference he was described as the "Father of Applied Behavior Analysis." He has done incredible research and work on severe behavior disorders. At the conference he was a keynote speaker and did a presentation on Prader-Willi Syndrome which is a disease where the person never feels full and continues to eat and eat. Through working with subjects for an extended a period of time using Applied Behavior Analysis, the average weight loss was 70 pounds/31% of body weight. Very incredible.

The reason Applied Behavior Analysis is very important to a Physical Education major like myself is because this can be used in a classroom setting to decrease negative behaviors or even increase athletic performance on a sports team. I recommend that anyone involved with teaching, coaching, or even working with people take a serious look at Applied Behavior Analysis because of how effective it is and how easy it can be to implement!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Happy Halloween at St Mary's

Check out what I observed at St Mary's for Halloween!

This was an awesome Halloween at St Mary's. After one group led a fun game in the gym, we took the kids out to the playground because it was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon. We were all dressed up in different outfits and I was a cowboy. Out on the playground, we started a really fun game. All the kids were told to go looking for a pair of handcuffs by the sheriff, and the kids ran around the playground going from person to person searching for the handcuffs. At one point they were chasing me because they thought I had the handcuffs! The finally captured me in the tunnel and it was really fun.

After that I spent some time reading with the children and than we went back inside for a game that I led than a closing activity. The game was similar to hot potato, when the music stopped whoever had a spider had to dance in the middle for a turn. So far St Mary's had been a great time and it is really valuable to work with the kids. 

A Superhero Lab 3!

Saint Mary's was a blast once again! For this lab, we had the gym group which was an awesome experience. Right from the start the kids were all very excited and had lots of energy. That makes the day a whole lot better when people are excited to get up and get active. Since our theme was Super Heroes I wore a Batman t-shirt which the kids loved. The skills we were working on with them were leap, horizontal jumping, and slide.

Since the theme was Super Heroes, I set up poly spots and stars all over the ground on one side of the gym. I explained to the kids that they were Super Spiderman and that they had to save the princess on the other side of gym. To do so, they had to go from building to building (spots and stars) to save her. The first time I made them only leap. The next time through they only horizontal jumped. Than I presented a challenge to them, they could only leap to a poly spot, and only horizontal jump to a star. If they missed, they had to slide all the way back. The kids and everyone had a blast with it!

After playing with the kids in the gym, we went downstairs to the cafeteria and had an arts and crafts session and did some coloring. It was an awesome day at St. Mary's once again!