Monday, February 27, 2012

Time On Task

We've all seen the kid who blurts, who is constantly out of his/her seat, who reads when she/he should be writing, and who is constantly talking to peers. Or, a student who refuses to do anything at all!

As a teacher of students with behavior disorders, general education teachers often share a concern with me that a student is "off-task." When this happens, I like to do a "Time-On-Task" (TOT) observation.

The form that I use for a TOT observation is simple (see below) and the physical observation only takes 10 minutes. When I go into the general education classroom to do the observation, I take the form and a stopwatch. The next thing I do is locate the student I am to be observing and then choose a peer that I will be comparing my subject to. Then, every minute on the minute, I check to see if both students are on task. If they are on task, I make a checkmark in each students' "On-Task" column. If not, I make a checkmark in the "Off-Task" column. I do this every minute on the minute for ten minutes. I am then able to calculate a percentage of time-on-task.

While this observation is helpful and is numerical data, it isn't necessarily a tell-all. Even as adults, we know that even we aren't on task 100% of the time. Everyone's mind wanders. Everyone gets distracted. Everyone gets excited and blurts out an answer. These things also need to be taken into consideration before a student is considered for support services for off-task behaviors.

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