Friday, April 24, 2009

TAGteach and Baseball

By Brian Langlois

I haven't had the opportunity to implement tag teach for my baseball team to the extent I had hoped as of yet because of the weather here and the availability of players. Although they have all expressed interest and excitement at the prospect so that is a definite good start.

I have had the opportunity to work with one of my players however and I am very excited about the results. This player has played with me for years, he rarely hits it out of the infield, and usually gets on base because he is so incredibly fast or the other team makes an error, rarely because of a good hit. We went to the batting cages to get some practice, and as usual his first round he was hitting soft ground balls that would more often than not lead to an out. Watching his swing I noticed that when he rotated his hips to hit his back leg was overturning and his front leg was under turning.

Watching a bit longer I realized this was because of a problem with his initial stance, so we had our starting point and first tag point. I pulled him out of the cage and explained how I wanted him to set up in his stance, and that I would tag him for the proper stance then he can swing away, we were focusing on his stance. After maybe 2 minutes he was automatically without even thinking about it getting into the proper stance. I couldn't believe how quickly the change occurred, I have never seen anything like it. Then we started working on rotating his hips properly as he swung, having already corrected his stance this only took about a minute. Finally I explained to him how he should finish his swing after hitting the ball which is something no one ever explained to him before. Being entirely new to him this took about 3-4 minutes until he was consistently being tagged for it.

So after less than ten minutes of tagging he went back into the cages, he hit all fifteen pitches, and most of them solid line drives that would be at least a double, with his speed possibly a triple. Most importantly he was excited, I've never seen that excitement in an adult before. He sent me an e-mail a few days later to tell me he had gone back to the cages to practice what we worked on and he's doing even better.

If I wasn't convinced before I am now, to help a person improve that quickly and become excited about learning, this isn't the best thing since sliced bread, it's better.

About Brian

Thursday, April 16, 2009

English version of Swiss TAGteach Article

Here is the English version of the article...Thanks for the translation Doris Vaterlous!

Solothurner Newpaper, 15.4.2007
Success with acoustical signals

In May a seminar about TAGteach will be held in Balmberg. This American learning approach includes the use/application of acoustical signals. This seminar addresses persons who educate people and also animals.

Doris Vaterlaus is holding a sheet in front of her dog Stella, where you can read in big letters “SITZ“(sit). After some seconds Stella does sit. Vaterlaus is marking this behavior with an acoustical signal – a click – and she rewards her dog with a biscuit.
The same works with the cues “PLATZ” (down) and “STEH” (stand). Doris Vaterlaus explains that, of course Stella does not really read. Her dog has learned which cue belongs to which ‘picture’. We have trained this trick for fun with clicker training.

Also for people
What works with dogs, also works for other animals. Doris Vaterlaus has worked with parrots, cats, horses, goats, chickens, alpacas and people (a student with dyscalculia). The topic here is about the TAGteach teaching and learning approach, which has its roots in the U.S.A. TAG means Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. Intermediate goals are marked with a previously defined signal when they are reached by the student/learner. Afterwards, the execution is rewarded usually by the just by the sound which signals success.
While the acoustical signal with animals is mostly a click or a tongue sound, with people it is any special sound that has no meaning in everyday’s life. It is important, that mutual agreement about this sound is made before training”, says Doris Vaterlaus, who has offered clicker training for dogs since 1994.

For the first time she is organizing a seminar in Switzerland covering the topic TAGteach. This seminar will take place at the beginning of May in Balmberg near Solothurn. She invited Theresa McKeon to present the training. (See box).

Positives are marked
TAGteach proves to be very motivating for the student, Doris Vaterlaus explains. “There is a promised reward and the method emphasizes the positive instead of the negative in the learning process” she explains. Mistakes are not the focus as it is more important that the goal be reached. I don’t reinforce undesired behavior but try to train and reinforce an alternate behavior).
“Although wrong answers are not focused on, we also don’t let them continue”, she points out, “In these cases, the teacher goes one step back and continues on the already learned level with a new step in another/new way. Vaterlaus knows one form of correction “I am taking away attention” she is explaining. She is turning her back towards the dog or even leaves him.

The success of the TAGteach method can not only be explained with the high self motivation of the students. “The acoustical signal is a very important contribution” she explains. “The sound is unique, simple and can be earned/heard only if the agreed upon goal has been reached. It goes directly to the limbic system, into the emotional centre of the brain. It is always very astonishing, how fast learning can take place” pinpoints Doris Vaterlaus as another advantage of the method.

Author: Nadja Hugy


Learning in three steps

TAGteach comes from the U.S.A. and means Teaching and learning with Acoustical Guidance. The Learning and teaching process contains three steps.
In the first step, teacher and student agree together on the desired behavior, the TAG-point.
In the second step the reached goal will be clearly defined and marked. The sound means exactly “yes, goal reached”.
The third step is rewarding the execution. The acoustic sound means success which is very rewarding and highly motivating. (I added this sentence, not from the article but you may want to keep it in anyway, (Theresa))
This reward is very motivating and leads to a high self motivated learning preparedness for the student.
On May 9 and 10 there will the first introductory seminar in the Balmberg.
It is addressed to educators, teachers for adults and children, dog and animal trainers, gymnastic teachers, physiotherapists, educational people (Pedagogy), educational staff for disabled people.
Presenter of the Balmberg is Theresa McKeon, Vice president of TAGteach International.
The attendees will receive a certificate after a successful test.
There are some spots still available
Information/registration at Doris Vaterlaus 032 672 45 76

TAGteach Seminar in Switzerland May 9-10

Was ist TAGteach™?

TAGteach™ ist eine Ausbildungsmethode, die das Erarbeiten von Lerninhalten und Verhaltensentwicklungen von Kindern und Erwachsenen mit der Hilfe eines Markers beschleunigt. TAGteach™ wird inzwischen rund um die Welt angewandt und überzeugt fortschrittlich denkende professionelle Lehrkräfte in den Bereichen Verhaltensforschung, Heilpädagogik, Autismus, Pflege und Betreuung, Human Resources, Tier- und im speziellen auch Hundetraining, Erwachsenenbildung, Wettbewerbs- und Freizeitsportarten, Körperbildung, Tanz, Ballett, Physiotherapie und Pädagogik.

In diesem interdisziplinären Einführungsseminar werden die Teilnehmer die Grundlagen erwerben, die sie befähigen, TAGteach™ in ihr eigenes Berufsfeld zu übertragen und dort anzuwenden.

Gastgeberin in der Schweiz
Clicker Training in der Schweiz / in Switzerland
Information: Doris Vaterlaus
Telefon: +41(0)32 672 45 12

In Zusammenarbeit mit
Lisa Leicht
+41 (0)79 356 57 21
Organisation und Übersetzung auf Deutsch und Französisch

Facility: Kurhaus Oase Balmberg

Location: Oberbalmberg 21 CH-4524
Balmberg, Switzerland (CH)

How to register: Register Online at Balmberg, Switzerland

Registration fee: $375.00Early or $425.00Std


Thursday, April 9, 2009

TAGteach and Children with Special Needs

By Victoria Fogel BCABA

TAGteach™ (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) is a new way of teaching using positive reinforcement with a click sound marker to identify successful performance. In past columns we have talked about the tag point—the exact response, action, or position that a teacher pinpoints with a tag (the click sound) to tell the learner “YES, that was right!”, how to incorporate tangible rewards and how to harness the power of peer tagging. This month we have a guest author, Victoria Fogel, a behavior analyst who has used TAGteach to teach children diagnosed with autism.

Working with children diagnosed with autism can pose very difficult challenges. These challenges range from trying to decrease severe behavioral problems to teaching a child how to communicate their basic wants and needs. A child appropriately communicating what they want for the first time or hanging up their backpack after several weeks or months is a huge success for that child. For some of these children, these successes do not occur often and it may require months and years of training to learn to walk a short distance independently, dress themselves, identify the people who take care of them, and communicate their wants and needs. As a behavior analyst, teacher, and trainer I am always troubleshooting to find ways to accelerate the learner’s acquisition rate. TAGteach is a way to accelerate the learning process while simultaneously creating a safe, positive environment conducive to learning.

TAGteach is an effective teaching technology that uses an acoustical sound to mark when a desired behavior/skill occurs. The acoustical sound indicates to the learner that they performed the behavior/skill correctly. Positive reinforcement is the foundation of TAG methodology; focusing on the behavior you want to increase and then reinforcing that behavior. This creates a safe environment for the learner, which in turn provides motivation to learn. This is extremely important when working with children diagnosed with autism because often they lose motivation to continue with a teaching session after a couple of trials. If error corrections are given frequently and the sessions are not run at a rapid rate, the learner will quickly lose motivation.

Traditionally we have used error corrections to extinguish the incorrect behavior/skill and teach the correct behavior/skill, but error corrections often appear to have the effect of punishment. TAG does not punish the child’s attempt to learn a new behavior/skill. Instead, the method reinforces the child’s attempt by setting the stage for success. For example, we used TAG with a child having difficulty focusing on vocalizing while counting. The tag point was “say the number aloud” while he was dropping tokens into a cup, up to a specified number. Each time he said a number, he received a tag. This encouraged him to say the next number and allowed him a small success at each step. Children with special needs in learning benefit from this high rate of reinforcement along with clear and simple directions.

I have implemented TAGteach with children diagnosed with autism and have experienced wonderful results. Teaching sessions are conducted at a faster pace, children learn at an accelerated rate, and I am able to fine-tune my teaching skills. Learners appear to enjoy the teaching sessions. When I asked one learner why he liked TAG he said, “Because I win!”

TAGteach can rapidly and dramatically increase the learning acquisition rate. One of my learners had considerable difficulty walking from her bus to her classroom door, and required intense prompting to walk this path. She had worked on this task for two years. I began TAGteaching with this learner, simply tagging her for each correctly placed foot. After 23 TAG sessions, she was able to walk independently from her bus to the classroom door. Two years of effort using conventional methods could not begin to compare to what we accomplished in less than a month with TAGteach.

This is a precise teaching method that focuses on what the child is doing right, empowers the teacher, and provides motivation to learn. TAG is a beneficial teaching methodology that can aid in the treatment of autism and facilitate a positive, productive learning environment. Parents of children with special learning needs can apply the techniques we have developed for use with autism. In applying the principles of TAGteach (described in previous columns) to children with special needs, the teacher must be sure to break the task into readily achievable pieces, start with something the child can already do, keep the rate of reinforcement very high, and avoid corrections that the child may find aversive.

Next time we’ll talk about the versatility of TAGteach and how you can seamlessly incorporate tagging into existing lesson plans, without changing the technical content of your teaching.

We invite you to join the TAGteacher discussion group at to meet others who are implementing TAGteach in various disciplines and to see the list of upcoming TAGteach seminars.

Victoria Fogel is a certified TAG teacher. She is also a board-certified associate behavior analyst at the University of Florida. Victoria currently works with the foster care system to assist in reducing placement disruption. Before moving to Florida, she worked as a behavior analyst and teacher in California at an independent school for children diagnosed with autism. Victoria resides in Titusville, Florida, with her husband Jon and neurotic dog Conor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TAGteach Workshop in Portland in June

A 1-day TAGteach workshop hosted by Paws to Freedom will be held in Portland OR on June 8. This is an 8-hour workshop featuring Keri Gorman of TAGteach Northwest. Attendees will get lots of hands-on practice and will learn from videos and demonstrations.

Click here to download the flyer for the event for more details.