Years ago the director of the charter school for autistic kids Jimmy & Andrew were attending told me that the only way to turn 'data' into positive reinforcement was to chart it.
That was a revelation. I already knew about the importance of "taking data," as behavior analysts call it. Taking data seems to be a pivotal behavior in behavioral treatment; just keeping track of what you're doing -- or what your goofy kids are doing -- helps. Knowing what you're doing changes what you're doing.
This is true even for children with severe autism, by the way. I've seen it. The minute you start counting & recording a child's behaviors to get a baseline, the behavior changes. It's uncanny.
In any event, the director's friend was working on his dissertation and had been recording his word count every day. But he'd stalled out & was stuck. Blocked.
She told him he needed to chart his data. It isn't good enough just to write down numbers day in and day out, you have to see a line going up-up-up (or, in the case of weight loss, down-down-down) if your daily numbers are going to serve as a force for good.
Practically the instant the words were out of her mouth, I knew she was right, and I've been trying to chart stuff ever since. Problem is, I've never been able to figure out how to chart the things I need to chart. Weight loss is easy; it's weight against date. Page counts are easy. Pages against date & keep a running total.
But I've never worked out how to chart the other phases of writing (or anything else): planning, organizing, reading, interviewing, etc.
Just this week, I'm trying to figure out how to chart C's studies for the summer. He has a bunch of reading to do for Hogwarts, which is easy. Last summer I made a simple chart for both of us that worked like a charm. It's a good thing, too, because he had to read 2500 pages in 8 weeks. He may have been one of the few kids in the school who actually did it, and we have the schedule and the chart to thank for it.
This summer I want him to do a bunch of other things, too. On the advice of friends, I've decided to pay him to do some but not all of them, and I have no idea how to record these activities in a manner that will be a) clear and b) motivating.
Here's the scheme:
I don't know what to do with this, chart-wise.
Plus I'm befuddled on the question of positive reinforcement and intrinsic motivation, but that's another story.
Are there books to read on this subject?
And: has anyone used Chartdog?
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