Time On Task Behavior Chart Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Are you trying to help your students get better at managing their own behavior? This lesson offers a few different ideas for how you can create and use time on task behavior charts.

Managing Students' Time

Whether you teach students who struggle with executive function, students with attention challenges, or typically developing students who have trouble staying on task, helping students learn to handle time properly is always an important part of a teacher's job. Getting distracted, having trouble focusing, and procrastinating are all things that people of all ages can struggle with. Yet as a teacher, you have a wonderful opportunity to help students master these challenges early in life.

One way to help students with time management is to focus on their time on task. Time on task literally refers to the amount of time devoted to what a student is supposed to be doing: reading, writing, or working on math assignments. To help students maximize their time on task and gain insight into their own time management it can be helpful to use a behavior chart. The chart ideas in this lesson can be very helpful for getting students to become aware of and control their use of time.

Minute by Minute

Some students are highly prone to distraction or struggle so much with a particular type of task that they require very close monitoring. These students can benefit from a fine-tuned behavior chart that really allows you to track their behavior minute by minute. However, this kind of monitoring can be difficult to sustain for children and teachers, so you will probably want to limit your use of this kind of chart to one period a day.

Set up a grid that divides the class period into one or two minute intervals, with the opportunity for a student to earn a star for each of the intervals. For example, if a student reads without distraction from 9-9:02 am, she can earn a star. Decide in advance how many stars the student will need if she is going to get a reward at the end of the period. Then over the course of a week to a month increase the expectations for time spent on task.

Good rewards for this kind of behavior chart include five minutes of free time, a sticker or small eraser, or the opportunity to play a card game at the end of class.

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