Saturday, September 21, 2013

Token Economy Systems Using an iPad

As teachers get into their groove at the beginning of the school year, a token economy system is a great way to incorporate reinforcement (an evidence based practice!) into their instruction.  But who has time to laminate and Velcro paper and pennies for a penny board?!  With the help of an iPad, you can access a token economy system at the touch of an app.

Getting Started
I like to introduce a token board before a lesson begins and clearly explain the expectations to my students.  Which desired behavior are we targeting to earn a token?  What does that behavior look like?  How many tokens does the class or student feel are a reasonable amount to earn for the reward?  What will the reward be?  The reward or a reminder of the reward should be displayed throughout your lesson as a visual reference for students to stay on track.  (It's kind of like that picture of a girl in a bikini on your refrigerator door...we need to remember why we are not snacking between meals!)

For teaching strategies on token economy systems, check out these links:
Educate Autism
The Do and Don't of Token Economy from The Autism Helper

App Suggestions
There are a lot of great ways apps can be used as token economy systems.  Some are made specifically for tracking behavior- others are not but certainly fit the bill!  Here are some examples:

Working4 (currently $2.99)
For a nice price, this app is specifically made to be used as a token economy system.  Choose how many tokens (up to 5) you are working for, choose the reward from the picture library built into the app or add your own photos, touch the stars for each token earned, and then "cash in" when you have earned your reward.  The Cash In button has a nice "cha-ching!"  noise...students love it!

Cheerful Charts Free
This free version of Cheerful Charts is a great app when working with group economy systems.  The free version comes with four different charts to choose from (jungle, dinosaurs, mice who eat cheese, and cats!) and has several rows of "stickers" to reveal on each page.  The paid version is currently only $1.99.

Any Photo Editing App
Several photo editing apps offer stickers or images that can be added to photos.  (I've used Photo Sticker HD for this example, which is a free app but offers in-app purchases for upgrades.)  Take a photo of your student, class, reinforcement item, or environment in your classroom and add "tokens" to the photo as you work towards your goal.

Any Puzzle App
There are a lot of puzzle apps out there that are free or inexpensive.  Choose a variety of puzzles and let the pieces act as the "tokens" that need to be earned to complete the picture in order to earn your reward.  (Featured here 123 Kids Fun Paper Puzzle Game which currently runs for $0.99.)

A highly customized app and great for using with individual students.  In-app purchases allow you to upgrade your account to add several students (but the free version will let you add one student profile.)  I love the data tracking and timer features.

Apps can quickly lose their appeal over time and it's important to change up your strategy and visuals to keep students please share with me which apps you use for token economy systems in your classroom!  You can never have too many tools in your bag.

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