Discover Best Practices for Preparing Your Classroom for the New School Year

It’s That Time of Year Again!

The new school year has arrived, and everyone is busy preparing for their students. Lesson plans, IEP’s, new curriculums, and training days all encompass our time before school starts. However, one of the key factors of this preparation is the learning environment.

Is your classroom ready for the new school year?

Top 10 Classroom Preparation Set-Up Checklist

❏     Is your classroom clean and orderly?

❏     Is your classroom inviting for your students — Is it a place that encourages students to do their best?

❏     Is your classroom inviting for your team and other adults?

❏     Does your classroom have clearly physically defined areas based on learning activity that will encourage learning and reduce distraction? (i.e. individual desks; small/large group
instruction area; quiet area; play area; technology area)

❏     Does your classroom have clearly physically defined transition area in which movement between classroom stations and/or to outside of the classroom occurs?

❏     Is your classroom well organized to promote student learning and minimize challenging behavior? (i.e. activities and tasks kept in clear/well labeled clear plastic bins; classroom decorations and bulletin boards in an organized and logical layout so not to be distracting or overwhelming)

❏     Does your classroom have a class daily written/illustrated schedule to help your students predict their environment, stay on task, encourage learning, and prevent problem behavior?

❏     Does your classroom have individual daily schedules for your students who need additional support above the classroom schedule?

❏     Does your classroom contain visual instructions for activities? (i.e. picture/word instructions on how to wash hands)

❏     Does your classroom have a classroom wide or individual reinforcement schedule(s) posted and clearly visible? (i.e. token boards for individual student earning)

Congratulations! Your classroom is now ready for the new school year! Just by making these 10 changes to the environment, you have improved the effectiveness of the entire program.

If you would like a formal environmental rating scale to evaluate your classrooms physical organization that will provide suggestions for improvement, you can take the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale of Self-Assessment (APERS). This is a great tool to help evaluate your classroom’s physical layout at the beginning of each school year. Below are some additional tips for creating the most ideal classroom for your students.

Help and Support for Classroom Organization

For visual supports, instructions, and reinforcement systems check out the “My Resources” section of your Rethink account.

Rethink Account_My Resources

Learn tips and real-world examples of classroom set-up, check out the “Setting Up for Success” archived webinar in “My Resources“:

Rethink Account_Setting Up For Success

Check out other classroom organization tips and best practices.

View Webinar

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

SXSWedu 2017: Using Data & Tech to Bring SPED up to Speed


Vote Rethink for SXSWedu’s “PanelPicker”

Rethink is excited and proud to be eligible to speak at next year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) on “Using Data & Tech to Bring SPED up to Speed“.  We are honored to be in the running and excited to discuss how using data & technology will revolutionize special education.

We are asking people to vote Rethink for SXSWedu’s “PanelPicker”. Please take 2 minutes to vote here.  It’s very easy to create an account and then you will be able to give us a “thumb’s up” over on the left-hand side of the page, comments are greatly appreciated!

If selected, Rethink will moderate a panel with district leaders and clients from across the country.

The panel plans to discuss:

  1. Replicable strategies to use technology to enable high-quality professional development throughout the school year.
  2. Best practices on using technology to track IEP data, leading to lower due process costs, and higher parent satisfaction.
  3. Great ideas on how to better incorporate technology into special education curriculum and improve student outcomes.

vote_for_Rethink_swsxedu_2017Please vote today, the voting deadline is Sept. 2.

Vote here!

About Rethink

Rethink aims to place evidence-based treatment solutions in the hands of every educator, clinician or parent working with a child with special needs. We are unique in our footprint, leveraging the power of technology to provide clinical support, best-practice tools, and research-based content to all market segments, reaching more children with special needs than any other solution.

Posted in Buzzworthy, Community Tagged with: ,

Advanced Training Series- Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

Advanced Training Series = More Professional Development in Evidence-Based Instruction

everyday_aba_kids_in_class-02With the new school year upon us, schools are clamoring for effective professional development. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and others interested in learning and applying the evidence-based practice of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for learners with significant disabilities have been accessing Rethink’s exemplary Basic Training Series for years. But once people finished the sequence of training modules, we often hear, “We want more!”

Well, you asked for it, we got it! The Advanced Training Series is here! There is always more to learn. Our Basic Training Series is a great introduction to ABA and now with the Advanced Training Series, users can get an even more in depth understanding of the principles of ABA.

You want it, the Advanced Training Series has got it!

The Advanced Training Series provides:

  1. Access to an additional 40-hours of on-demand training
  2. Quizzes and tests are also embedded within each training module, to support learning.
  3. Take your professional development up a notch and learn about everything from reinforcement to motivating operations!

Another bonus of Rethink’s Advanced Training Series, is that it meets the 40-hour training requirement for the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification. The RBT is a wonderful first step towards professionalizing the role of the paraprofessional. Paraprofessionals are an invaluable asset in providing special education services, yet so often paraprofessionals do not receive adequate professional development. Paraprofessionals can use Rethink’s Advanced Training Series to fulfill the training requirement, as they pursue their RBT credential.  The on-demand access allows flexibility for busy professionals.

Whether you are pursuing your RBT credential, or just wanting more quality professional development, the Advanced Training Series is for you. Check it out!

Take Your Professional Development to the Next Level and Become RBT Certified!


Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech Tagged with: , , ,

Time Saving Tips-Student Activity Center

The Activity Center is a great place for students to engage students with fun and educational online activities that align with Rethink’s curriculum and IEP Builder. The Activity Center enables students to practice important skills and promotes independence. All activities and progress are automatically tracked and graphed, allowing teachers and parents to see the student’s progress. Embedded within each activity are prompts and scores designed to motivate the student, In addition, the activities can be customized for different subjects and learning levels.

Follow these simple steps to start your student using the Activity Center today!
Step 1. Go to “My Students” and click on the student’s name. Click on “Activity Center “, and then “View Credentials”.

  1. Go to “my students”. Click on “activity center tab”. Click on “view credentials”.

Rethink student activity center

  1. Print out the credentials you need for your student

student activity center completed goals

  1. Go to, enter the student’s user name and password to log into their Activity Center.

Other helpful hints for using the Activity Center:

  • To promote independence, teach your students to type in their own user name and passwords
  • To promote generalization of skills learned in the classroom, send the credentials sheet home with the student so that parents can help their child log into the Activity Center and practice the games and skills at home

View a Data Collection Webinar On Demand!

Learn Best-Practice Tips for Collecting Data in Inclusive Settings

Watch the webinar on demand to learn why data collection is important. Collecting data not only demonstrates and reinforces student learning, but also informs instruction and supports teachers in being reflective about their own practice.
View Webinar

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Using Applied Behavior Analysis in Everyday Routines Helps Develop Skills

Using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Everyday Routines to Promote Language, Communication and Social Skills for Young Children with Disabilities

Routines are part of daily life and are a great place to embed teaching and intervention. An enormous amount of learning can take place when children are involved in daily routines such as bathing, feeding, playing, diaper changing and riding in a car – things that parents do with their children every day.  These daily events provide opportunities for repetitive learning in a natural, enjoyable yet structured way. 

Family-guided routines based intervention (FGRBI) is a research-based approach in which intervention is consistently implemented by all family members and service providers throughout the day. Routines occur wherever the family is, whenever the need arises, and however the family chooses to complete them.  Instead of scheduling the family activities around the child’s therapy sessions and at home lessons, in a family-guided routines based approach, the family activities become the child’s therapy and practice.  

Using the principals of Applied Behavior Analysis and FGRBI parents and caregivers can easily promote language and social skill development with their young child:

1. Use your child’s interests during dinnertime routine to encourage communication-

It’s dinnertime and pizza night! Your child’s favorite food! Let’s use this an opportunity to teach language and socials skills.

Instead of simply giving the pizza to the child, encourage the child to ask for the pizza by pointing, giving you a picture of the pizza, choosing pizza from other foods, or by saying the word “pizza”.

visual supports

2. Using rewards during bedtime routine to encourage appropriate behavior-

Bedtime is one of the toughest times for parents often with their child exhibiting challenging behavior but is a routine that happens every day. Using rewards can help teach appropriate social skills.

Rewards could be as simple as celebrating or praising the child for putting his pajama’s on without crying.  If you have more steps to complete, use a simple token board along with a reward that your child likes… let’s say story time!  Your child would receive a token (and your praise) for each step they complete without crying (taking a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, taking medicine, getting into bed) and their big reward at the end would be Daddy reading them a story.

You can find examples of token boards here.

Encourage appropriate behavior with everyday ABA

3. Use fun activities during cleaning and gardening routines to promote language-

Routines can be made out of anything that a parent and the child do together regularly. Routines can be created around planting or watering plants, changing a bandage, feeding the cat or baking cookies. The best learning opportunities are the ones that are the most interactive and the most fun.

As you are gardening together have your child identify the color of the flowers to encourage labeling and language expansion. If your child has not yet developed verbal language skills, ask them “show me the blue flower” and they can point to the flower.  If they have some verbal language, you can help them by modeling the answer, and having them repeat, or by starting to say the color e.g. “the flower is bl…” and have your child complete the word.

As you are cleaning up their bedroom, you can engage your child with a clean-up song.  This will promote your clean up routine and will encourage language development for your child.


View a Visual Supports Webinar On Demand!

Learn to Master Visual Supports and understand the “Why” Behind Using Visual Supports and How to Use Them Correctly

Watch the webinar on demand to learn why visual supports help a person with ASD make sense of their environment, understand what is being asked of them, and complete tasks more successfully and independently. During this exciting webinar see real-world examples ranging from early childhood to adulthood that address academic, communication, and social goals, plus daily living activities.
View Webinar

Additional resources:
You can find examples of simple visual cues by visiting:
Family Guided Routines Based Intervention (FGRBI):
You can find examples of cleanup songs at
You can find examples of cleanup charts at:

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Helpful Hints & Super Strategies: End of Year Prep

Wouldn’t it be great to have a fully up to date account for your new student next year so you can see what’s’ been done before and start teaching and collecting data immediately?

Did you know that you could prep your students Rethink account at the end of the year to help the teacher who will have your student in the next grade?

Follow these super easy steps for preparing your students account for their next grade and their ongoing success…

Tips to Prep Your Students Rethink Account for Next Year

1. Complete Assessments: Make sure your student skills assessment is up to date, so that lesson recommendations are current for the new teacher

student skill assessment

2. Update IEP Goals: Make sure that all the skills/lessons from the students’ current IEP are entered into the students learning plan.  This will help the new teacher to get started.

3. Keep working and helping together: Use the “future plan” feature to add new goals and objectives to the student plan without interfering with your current plan and data collection. (See enclosed document for directions). This allows all new skills to be entered to help the new teacher but allows you to continue your current programming through the end of the year.

Create "future plans" to add new goals and objectives to a the student plan

As we conclude another school year we encourage you to follow these steps.  Make the effort to prepare your students account for their next grade and their ongoing success…

Have a great and safe summer!

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech Tagged with:

Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Earnestine Chambers

Ms. Chambers Jackson PSD Mississippi

Ms. Chambers, from Jackson Public School District in Jackson, Mississippi

Position: Special Education Teacher
District: Jackson Public School District, Mississippi

Ms. Chambers is a Special Education Teacher from Peeples Middle School.  Peeples is one of thirteen middle schools in the Jackson Public School District in Jackson Mississippi.  Jackson Public School District has been utilizing Rethink since the 2012 school year and educates K-12 students.

Ms. Chambers incorporates Rethink into daily activities to promote social skill building, transition skills, and word recognition skills daily.  “I consider the Activity Center to be the most valuable aspect of the Rethink program because it enables students to access the program on a one-to-one basis,” said Ms. Chambers.

Rethink provides paraprofessionals and teachers visual instructions and step-by-step lesson plans on how to teach the individual objects and targets for the specific student.  Ms. Chambers explained, “Our paraprofessionals use Rethink to practice skills that were previously taught and assists students with completing goals on their IEPs.”

“Rethink was implemented after we observed very little progress being made with some students.  Shortly after launching Rethink our Professional Service Director showed us how to collect data using a task analysis that increased student success, as well as helping us create custom IEPs,” said Ms. Chambers.


Ms. Chambers and a student completing an activity on Rethink’s Student Activity Center

“I consider the Activity Center to be the most valuable aspect of the Rethink program because it enables students to access the program on a one-to-one basis.”


icon-teacherspotlightMs. Chambers found Rethink to be a valuable tool for all special educators.  “Rethink provides a multitude of objectives to select from when tailoring the individual needs of students, lesson plans to guide teachers when working on objectives/ targets with individual students, and data for progress monitor (i.e. graphs and summary reports).  As well as, assisting our students with meeting their Short Term Instructional Objective’s (STIO) listed in their IEP for yearly progress,” said Ms. Chambers.

Keep up the fantastic work, Ms. Chambers! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

Posted in Community Tagged with: ,

A reflection on another school year and ESSA

The end of another school year is here; yearbooks are signed, progress reports are finalized, summer plans are made, and the final bell rings, marking the start of summer vacation. The activities leading up to this moment are hectic, exciting, and a definite cause for celebration of the accomplishments made by kids and teachers during the school year.

For students, gains in academic progress, as well as, milestones met in social learning and independence are recognized through mastery of IEP goals, passing scores on tests, and comparison of performance data from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Teachers also review qualitative data to articulate student changes. These assessment processes require carefully orchestrated team effort with leadership and guidance from educators to ensure that the progress made by students is effectively expressed. Assuring all stakeholders can see successes and areas of continued need.

essa-signing-RethinkEqually important at the end of the year is the reflection of educators on their growth as professionals and identification of areas in-need of improvement. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015, the ownership of teacher evaluation protocols returned to individual states to define effective teacher and how is that measured.

In a recent article published by Education Week, author Ross Wiener, identifies three strategies that are critical for states to focus upon during this exciting change: ensure evaluators are adequately trained to focus on growth, allow flexibility in the measurement of student learning, and test to ensure the integrity of the evaluation system. Weiner’s recommendation that evaluators are trained and certified to focus on professional growth and not just ratings resonates in the spirit of reflective teaching and learning.

We must view kids as more than their test scores, and the call to evaluate teachers using more than a rating is vital in the continued development of highly-qualified, dedicated professionals who value professional learning and growth. The type of educator who can look at their own practices, receive feedback, and identify not what they are good or bad at but rather what they improved upon. This process calls to mind Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and the idea that growth is so much more than effort but reflection on what about your effort was not successful, what you learned through the effort, and using that information to decide what to do differently next time.

teacher evaluationsRoss Wiener’s suggestion of professional growth having equal weight to quantitative ratings on teacher evaluation opens a door for administrators to learn to foster a growth mindset in teachers through the evaluation process. Just as summative reports for children are multi-faceted and holistic, so should be teacher evaluations. Valuing both the rating but also the ability to accept feedback allows teachers to grow, have courage to try new things, and ultimately widen the breadth of their professional experience which trickles down to benefit our primary focus, students.

As the year winds down, I encourage you, as a professional educator, a parent, or even administrator to truly reflect and accept the feedback of what went well this year and what did not and why. Take that knowledge and use it – make a small or large change; it could be all the difference!

Posted in Buzzworthy, Tips, Tools, & Tech Tagged with:

Rethink Announces Jamie Pagliaro to join Advisory Board for Behavioral Health Center of Excellence

Mr. Pagliaro to advise on development of industry quality standards

Jamie PagliaroJamie Pagliaro, a leading innovator in healthcare and educational technology for autism and developmental disabilities, was recently invited to join the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence ( as an advisory board member.  The California-based organization mission is to identify and recognize quality providers of Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) services to individuals with autism and related disabilities, many of whom now qualify for services through their health plans.

“Jamie is a pioneer in using technology to enhance ABA service delivery, and we are excited to welcome him to the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence’s Community Advisory Board.” said Sara Gershfeld, Founder of the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. “We believe his strong experience, especially in creating systems that promote ethical and efficient practice management, will be extremely valuable as the BHCOE continues to grow and measure quality standards across the United States.”

Mr. Pagliaro served as the Executive Director of New York City’s first public charter school for children with autism. He subsequently co-founded Rethink, the leading global provider of research-based online resources to support individuals with developmental disabilities. After recognizing the need for ABA service providers to have better ways of working with payers in the healthcare industry, he launched Rethink’s behavioral health division (, which provides a suite of smart practice management tools.

“Due to a substantial increase in state insurance reform initiatives led by the national nonprofit advocacy group, Autism Speaks, the need to develop quality benchmarks, then identify and recognize qualifying ABA service providers is becoming more important,” said Pagliaro. “I was compelled by BHCOE’s vision to establish quality standards aligned with best practices in our industry, as this directly impacts outcomes for consumers and can help families navigate options in an informed way.”

As a member of the advisory board, Mr. Pagliaro will help provide strategic input on the ongoing development of BHCOE’s quality standards.

About the BHCOE

BHCOE is a trusted source for recognizing exceptional special needs providers that excel in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction and qualifications and consumer satisfaction. Using standardized methods and practices, the organization acts as a third-party to measure and report on existing quality criteria in the behavior analysis community, through interviews with agency clinical leadership, detailed staff qualification review, an anonymous staff satisfaction survey and an anonymous consumer satisfaction survey. BHCOE awards only those service agencies that meet elite standards. For more information, visit

About Rethink Behavioral Health

Rethink Behavioral Health provides the tools every behavioral health provider needs to manage their practice and deliver quality ABA treatment effectively & efficiently. Rethink’s easy to use web-based software streamlines client care with sophisticated yet intuitive tools for both clinicians & administrators. For more information, visit

Posted in Community Tagged with:

Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Melissa Farrell

Melissa Farrell Stamford Public SchoolsMelissa Farrell, a Special Education Teacher from Stamford, Connecticut, has been using Rethink for the past 3 years.  At the time, Melissa’s class was the first classroom within Stamford Public Schools to pilot the implementation of Rethink.

Since the Rethink implementation Mellissa has had all of the paraprofessionals within her classroom successfully complete the training center modules.  Currently, Melissa has program binders for each of her students.  Within each binder are the printed out lesson plans and data sheets.  One area of Rethink that has helped Melissa the most is the progress reporting section.  This has been the most useful during report card and IEP time as she is able to run reports to print out or show in a PowerPoint.

Rethink has really helped Melissa to better organize, monitor and track all of her students’ data. Melissa acknowledges that the assessments and lesson libraries have further supported her with ability to develop appropriate IEP goals for her students.

“In the beginning it may seem like it will take a lot of time to use, but as you become more familiar you save a lot of time and makes you much more organized in the long run!”

Rethink has helped develop IEP goals for Stamford Public School studentsPrior to using Rethink, Melissa found it challenging to keep track of all the paperwork and data for each student. Rethink has decreased the amount of paperwork she accumulates and has made it easier for her to track her student’s progress more efficiently.  Melissa feels as though Rethink has helped her to be a more effective teacher.

Posted in Community