June 7, 2016


The Foundational Five—Systematic Instruction

Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing The Foundational Five. Remember, The Foundational Five are all evidence-based practices based on the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis and include Antecedent Based Intervention (ABI), Visual Supports, Systematic Instruction, Reinforcement, and Social Communication Intervention. So far, we’ve been ‘setting the stage’ with ABI and visual supports but now it’s time to tackle questions like, “How do I teach this student?”

Educators often face many challenges, but understanding how to teach students with ASD can be one of the most complex situations in today’s classrooms. It may feel overwhelming and it may be hard to know where to start; however, it is definitely not impossible! With a careful plan to consistently guide and inform our instructional practices, students with ASD learn and reach their goals! This careful plan, or blueprint for teaching students with ASD, is called Systematic Instruction.

Systematic instruction starts with identifying skills that a student needs to learn and then creating measurable objectives for students. This means objectives can be observed and counted somehow. Systematic instruction then takes what we want to teach students and breaks it down into small, teachable skills. Next, we’ll break the skill into the three term contingency, or the antecedent, behavior, consequence (ABC) chain. If we plan for instruction by using the three term contingency, we can teach any skill to an individual, and ultimately, help the student be more independent. The three term contingency provides a very structured approach to teaching new skills and includes methods such as prompting, shaping, chaining, and task analysis. The key is to think about this methodically so we have a plan for how to introduce the concept or topic, how to prompt the student, how to reinforce the student, and how to fade supports.

Straight from the Classroom

Teachers in Spotsylvania County have been using systematic instruction and are making a lot of progress! Here is what they have to say:

“When you ask a Special Education teacher, ‘What's success?’ he / she will answer by saying, ‘The implementation of systematic instruction is vital to learning and generalization. The use of evidence-based practices is critical. This plus persistence, patience and creativity are all necessary and will lead to success.’”

Quiana Whitehead

Spotsylvania County Schools

“By using systematic planning to drive instruction, my students are able to get the support they need when they reach a skill that is difficult but are able to flourish in areas where they have strengths. The programming meets them exactly where they are in a completely individualized way to maximize growth and minimize frustration for students and staff.”

Kelli Tarleton

Spotsylvania County Schools

“A defining characteristic of systematic instruction is not only the use of quality discreet trial training and task analysis, but also data analysis. Meticulous data provides an objective report on students' understanding of learning materials, and allows educators to accommodate and scaffold structure to each student's individualized needs.”

Kendra Alling

Spotsylvania County Schools

Want to learn more?

For more in-depth information about The Foundational Five including Systematic Instruction, sign up for the course Evidence Based Practices to Teach Students with ASD. The next course starts July 11, 2016.

Looking for something you can use right now?

Check out our How To and Ask the Expert videos for a wide variety of short presentations on prompting and task analysis!

Don't Forget!!!!!

There are no scheduled webcasts for the summer; however, if you missed out on any of the presentations, be sure to check out the archives! Topics range from pre-k instruction to social skills interventions to personal stories from adults to updates in the legislature.

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