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Behavior Improvement Plan to cease sleeping in the classroom by an 11th grader

Jamie Szymanski
St. Bonaventure University
April 30, 2016

Introduction &Literature Review


Every teacher stumbles upon a student who cannot seem to keep their eyes open in their
class. This is a common classroom problem that educators encounter everywhere. Each teacher
needs to recognize this behavior in their own why that they feel comfortable. Not every teacher
will go about this thin the same way.
Heuston, author of Trucker Tricks: Helping students stay awake in class helps students
stay awake in class and while theyre studying in a variety of ways. He stresses the importance
of how muscle tension and muscle activity will keep anyone awake. Students can stand in the
room to keep themselves alert or pace in the back of the room to encourage themselves to
become even more alert. An activity that Heuston utilizes with his students is having them sit
normal and then transition their body so that they are engaging all leg and feet muscles. After
ten seconds of them clenching the student must relax their muscles and then stand. Again
stressing the importance of muscle tension and muscle activity. These alternative methods help
students recognize that educators realize that students are sometimes sleep-deprived and need an
extra push to make it through the day.
Doctoral student Christopher Seitz addresses sleeping students in a sincere way. In his
method, he wakes a student by getting beside him or her, kneeling to eye level, and softly saying
the students name. He does this to show personal care toward his student. He prefers this rather
than standing in the front of the room drawing more attention to the student. After he attempts to
wake the student, he checks to make sure they are feeling alright using genuine words and an
open stance. Also, he connects with the students by holding strong eye contact. Looking at other
students during this conversation may make the student feel as if the conversation is up for
debate with anyone and they become embarrassed. If a student admits to feeling sick, then allow
him or her to leave class. However, if a student admits to just feeling sleepy, then encourage
them to improve his or her sleep. The combination of receiving sincere concern and limiting any

chance of embarrassment may encourage the student to not sleep in the classroom again. This
may not be every teachers first response when they see their students sleeping in class, but it is
definitely a different approach to attempt.
Overall educators must find ways to manage behaviors that works for them, and their
students. An educator should reflect on ones work and changes strategies year after year to meet
the needs of all students that encounter your classroom. Techniques/skills used with one student
may not work another.
Methods
The following behavior intervention took place in a high school math, special education
classroom during an eight-one-one teaching period. The student involved (Avery) is an eleventh
grade boy diagnosed with Multiple Disabilities. He was scheduled to take Algebra 1 (year 2 of 2)
last year, but he failed. He is currently enrolled in the class for the second time this school year.
Algebra takes place after Averys lunch period and lasts for forty-one minutes (five days a week)
receiving eight-one-one mathematics instruction. Instruction at this time was designed to
differentiate the New York State Regents curriculum over the course of two years. Avery's
greatest difficulty includes staying awake and attentive during class. He struggles with listening
to directions, raising his hand before he speaks, and completing assigned work. Avery can be
resistant to environmental change or change in daily routines. Avery engages in specific
repetitive activities and may perseverate on certain issues/aspects. Due to his behaviors, Avery
requires consistent intervention, guidance and cues from his teacher. He requires assistance with
work completion, focusing, social cues and engaging in appropriate conversations with others.
He needs to be reminded to remain aware of his environment. Due to the noted deficits, Avery's
educational performance is adversely affected and he is currently failing all core academic
classes. He currently already has a behavior intervention plan in place, but it is not meeting his
needs.

After discussing the situation with the schools social worker, we have decided that
implementing this behavior study will only benefit the student. Baseline data was collected for
ten consecutive school days prior to the treatment phase to assess how many times Avery was
falling asleep in class. These days included documentation of every period. Some periods are
blank due to teachers not filling out the chart for their scheduled period. Keep in mind that each
class period is ran differently. Not all classes are taught in the same manner. Data was collected
by each special education teacher/assistant, who filled out his behavior chart, noticeable to the
student, each day after class. This student must meet the following criteria for each class:

Stay awake/keep head up/ Follow directions

Put my best effort into my work

Positive Attitude

Complete homework and 75% of classwork

If Avery receives a he is eligible to earn computer time two times per day. For him to earn this
time he must meet his goal in 3 out of four morning class and 2 out of 3 afternoon classes. His
chart gets monitored by the social worker two times per day (once at lunch and once at the end of
the day).
Following the collection of data the treatment phase was initiated. The social worker and
the math special education teacher sat down with Avery to discuss how his sleeping habits in
school were getting to be too frequent and that it was taking away from valuable time for
learning. They explained that they were going to keep monitoring his behavior using his chart,
but that we were going to start to track of how many times he fell asleep in each class by first
waking him up and keeping a tally sheet that was placed on his desk. The tallies were to be
marked using a colored marker so that the child could see that the tally was permanent and it
could not be removed. After four days the teacher told the student that his goal was to have no
more than 2 tallies in 4 out of the 7 seven class periods at the end of each day. This meant that
Avery should receive no more than a total of 8 prompts to wake up throughout the school day.

This treatment was implemented for the next 8 consecutive days with the exception of two days.
On March 10th the student was not in school due to a class field trip and was absent from school
on March 15th. There was not enough time to complete another phase with no treatment/no tallies
to see if the behavior had changed or if it was being controlled by the visual cues/tallies due to
the fact that spring break was earlier than typical years. Results from the baseline and treatment
phases are listed below.

Results
Results from the treatment phase indicate that the visual cue of tallies reminded the student to
remain awake during class and but had no major effect on the amount of times he earned his
computer reward. Throughout the treatment phase the student was less likely to be seen sleeping
in class than previously. Each time the student fell asleep, he received a verbal prompt to wake
up and a colorful tally on his sleep monitoring sheet. The number of tallies fluctuated between 128 (per day) throughout the treatment phase without any visible trends of an apparent increase or
decrease in behavior. As per the students current BIP you will see in the graphs note if he met his
current behavioral goal. We havent been tracking actual waking up prompts, for the baseline
data.
The average number of classes where Avery meet his goal during the baseline phase was
4.4 periods out of 7 class periods. This number decreased during the treatment phase to an
average of 3.5 periods out of 7 class period. The graphs below show the information collected
during both phases.
The student was very focused on not having a tally for sleeping in class. He would often
immediately wake himself up and ask to get up and move around the room quickly. The student
was very proud of himself especially on days where his tallies were few. The small reminder
seemed to upset him somedays and encourage him other days. I cant say that this method was

something good or bad. The last two days that data was collected the student met all behavioral
goals and only had a total of 3 verbal prompts through his entire school day to wake up. Tim
was limited and this is something I will continue to track on my own for potentially the rest of
the school year to see if the visual will help cease his sleeping habits in school.
Discussion
Results from this study indicate that the visual cue of the colored tallies helped to remind the
student that it was important to stay awake in class. During the treatment phase the student did
not have a noticeable increase or decrease in earning his behavioral incentive.
Throughout the treatment phase there was only 1 period where the student had to be
prompted/tallied over 7 times to be woken up during a forty-one minute class. This method was
beneficial for all academic teacher to help Avery throughout his school day. After interviewing
Avery there were some interesting facts. He is lacking a lot of positive things in his life. He
achieves many things when he feel as if you are supporting him one hundred percent. He says
that he does not believe in himself and he has very low self-esteem which can lead to reasons
why he is sleeping in class.
This study was only conducted on one student so there is little confirmation that this
technique would work for other students in similar situations. Some students may require a
tangible reward, like Avery due to the fact that a visual reminder may not be enough incentive.
A student at another age or with other behavioral problems may/may not have as much success
using this method.
Another aspect to consider when looking at this study is that data was only collected for a
short time and there was not an additional baseline phase. It would be interesting to see if the
students behavior stayed consistent if the teacher no longer used the visual cues and verbal
prompts. The behavior did regress a bit so it is important to re-evaluate the current method and
possibly make some change to treatment. A strength of this study is that data was collected
consistently so that different days of the week were evaluated to see if there were any patterns. If

there was more time to complete this study I would follow and ABAB pattern and possibly
include other students who are having difficulty staying awake in the study. As of right now he is
the only student I have who is consistently sleeping in all classes.
As an educator, we need to find behavior management strategies that work not only for
us, but for our students as well. An educator should reflect on ones work and changes strategies
year after year to meet the needs of all students that encounter your classroom. Techniques/skills
used with one student may not work another. You need to build a positive rapport with the
students and make decisions that support the setting and need. This study proved that even with a
tangible reward, you are not always going to produce the desired behavior that youre searching
for. It is sometimes what each individual student might need to help encourage success.

References
Black, S. (2000). A Wake-Up Call on High-School Starting Times. Education Digest, 66(4), 33.
Heuston, S. (2013). Trucker Tricks: Helping Students Stay Awake in Class. College Teaching,
61(3), 108.
Seitz, C. M. (2012). Giving the Benefit of the Doubt: Addressing Students Who Sleep in Class.
College Teaching, 60(1), 37.

Data and Graphs

Figure 1
7
6
5
4

Frequency of meeting goal

3
2
1
0
Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Days of Tracking
Baseline Data

Intervention Data

Figure 2
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Baseline Data

Day 5

Day 6

Intervention Data

Day 7

Day 8

The graphs show the total number of occurrences Avery meet of his criteria to potentially earn
his computer time reward. This student must meet the following criteria for each class:

Stay awake/keep head up/ Follow directions

Put my best effort into my work

Positive Attitude

Complete homework and 75% of classwork

For him to earn this time he must meet his goal in 3 out of four morning class and 2 out of 3
afternoon classes. Example: On day 2 of baseline data tracking, Avery met his requirement in 5
out of 7 class periods. of this behavior per day during both the baseline data collection phase
and the treatment phase. Each phase included eight days of evaluation. Figure 1 presents the
information as a line graph. Figure 2 presents the same information in a bar graph format.

Figure 3
12
10
8
6

Frequency of tallies/verbal wake up prompts

4
2
0

Days of intervention data collection


English 1

Science 2

English 3

Math 5

P.E./Study Hall 6

Business 7

Social 4

Figure 4
12
10
8

Frequency of tallies/verbal wake up prompts

6
4
2
0

Days of intervention data collection


English 1

Science 2

English 3

Math 5

P.E./Study Hall 6

Business 7

Social 4

The
data presented in figures 3 and 4 consisted on the colored tallies and verbal prompts that were
given to Avery only in the intervention phase. Notice the collection took place in each class
period separately versus collected during the treatment phase is displayed on the graphs below
in line and bar graph form. To read each graph you must read it in this way: On day 1, in
English, Avery was prompted to wake up 2 times.

Appendix A
Student Interview:

Staff Interview:

Baseline Data Sheets (Attached as PDF)


Intervention Data Sheets (Attached as PDF)