Friday, October 21, 2016

Check Our New Blog

This blog is no longer being updated and we are in the process of updating all our articles and transferring them to a new improved blog.

Please visit our blog for the most up to date information on TAGteach

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Upcoming TAGteach Seminars

Séminaire de certification en TAGteach 
Date: Mar 21-22, 2015
Location: Haute-Normandie, France
Vous trouverez tous les détails sur le formulaire ci-joint.

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Apr 17-18, 2015
Location: Canandaigua, NY (Near Rochester)
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TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: May 2-3, 2015
Location: Limerick, Ireland
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TAGteach Seminario di Certificazione Base
Date: 16-17 Maggio 2015
Location: Verona, Italy

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: May 16-17, 2015
Location: Goodyear, AZ
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TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jun 27-28, 2015
Location: Denver, CO
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TAGteach Advanced Workshop and Level 1 Certification (Certified TAGteachers only)

Date: Jun 29-30, 2015
Location: Denver (Lakewood) CO
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TAGteach World Conference
Date: Sep 6-7, 2015
Location: Verona, Italy
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TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Sep 11-12, 2015
Location: Sornetan, Switzerland
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TAGteach Advanced Workshop and Level 1 Certification (Certified TAGteachers only)

Date: Sep 13-14, 2015
Location: Sornetan, Switzerland
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TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Oct 17-18, 2015
Location: Columbus OH
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

TAGteacher, You're My Hero! A Letter Every Teacher Needs to Read

This is an essay that 10 year old Irene Kim wrote for a 5th grade assignment. She chose skating coach and TAGteacher Lynn Loar as the subject of her essay. We think you'll agree that receiving something like this makes all the work, the dedication, the blood, the sweat, the tears and the dealing with the criticism from the doubters completely worth it. Thank you Irene for sharing your thoughts and shining the light on Lynn, who is an inspiration to all of us.

The Skating Hero

by Irene Kim

I skate freely around the bitter cold ice rink with my hands in my pocket. I glance up and see a bright shiny smile that seems to light up the room. It’s from Lynn, my hero.

Are you wondering who Lynn is? Try and guess... you got it! She is my super awesome ice skating teacher!

Lynn is my hero because she started a program for kids with special needs like my brother and their families like me. She asked the manager of Winter Lodge if she could start this program and BOOM! She received a spot for the program on Sunday mornings just like that. I think she is just as brave as Superman. So ever since then, people go there on Sundays since 1985.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t see or have autism. This program allows kids to skate in any direction they want. Usually, you can’t carry any items onto the ice but here, there are many exceptions. On the ice rink outside, (the one everyone else skates) you will get a whistle blown right in your face for doing something you can do on the indoor ice rink.(The one I’ve been talking about) A clumsy person like my brother would not have been such a pro at ice skating if it wasn’t for Lynn. She probably has the most patience in the world! After about two years of practice every winter Sunday, he began zooming around the rink as fast as a dog on the loose!

Also, Lynn gives young skaters points for skating a lap to doing spins and jumps! Points are a way of knowing how hard you worked and also to get prizes! Lynn tells your parents to make a reward system so they give you whatever you decided on with the points! Once I got a 100 points for getting used to my new skates! That is just an explanation of how AWESOME Lynn is. Now down to the facts.

So, Lynn is a very experienced skater and I can prove it to you. Would you call someone who skated since 1956 inexperienced? I bet you weren’t even born yet! Lynn also got recruited to an ice skating training in London for four years to train.

I started skating with Lynn when I was in kindergarten, so I have many fun experiences with Lynn. For example, during a lesson, Lynn told me to try something challenging and I guess I had a no way look on my face because she gave me points for that. Once, I was doing a spin and I almost fell over so I gave a little aahh! And I got points for that too. I get points for jumping, spinning, 3 turns and all that but mostly, it’s for the effort. “It’s not 50 points for the jump, it’s for the  effort.” Lynn once said.  Even if I fumble something, if Lynn thinks I tried, I earn the points.

You can tell that Lynn really believes in you. If a kid in skates walks up to Lynn and says that they can’t do it, Lynnn will be like, no, you can do it. I believe in you. So don’t give up. That is something you need to remember whether you are in second grade or in college.

No matter how great others are, they can’t beat Lynn. She is my hero. I will follow her lead and make a difference. I will help others around me with autism or not. Just like she did for us.

For more information on Lynn's skating program, view the trailer for the TAGs on Ice DVD

Read Lynn's Book:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TAGteacher Tale: Spelling and writing, oh my! TAGteach saves the day

by Martha Gabler MA

TAGteach is so Versatile


Not only does TAGteach help with behavior, you can also use it to help kids overcome learning obstacles.

Here are two examples of how people used TAGteach to help kids who were unhappy about completing their spelling and writing assignments. These were quick, spur-of-the-moment interventions, but they created great outcomes.

TAGteach and Spelling


Rosie Gaw, a parent from the UK, has a lovely daughter who needed to practice her spelling. Rose explains, “Sophie really didn't want to practice her spelling [word]s and we were on the verge of a major tantrum but I tagged each letter of each word and we got through it calmly.”
Example:  Spell “crisis.”  The tag point is: “Say letter.”

“C”      tag
“R”      tag
“I”       tag
“S”      tag
“I”       tag
“S”      tag

Great job Rosie and Sophie! The non emotional 'mark' of each correct letter told Sophie she was right! She experienced continuous success and she evolved from anger to calm.

TAGteach and Writing


A friend was working with a young girl with a developmental disability, who balked at writing four long sentences on a worksheet. The tutor calmly pulled out a tagger and tagged the student for every letter of every word she wrote in the workbook.

The tag point was: “Write letter.” For each letter written the tutor tagged the girl. After every ten tags she earned a ticket to trade in for treats or trinkets. The girl’s writing pace actually picked up and settled into a smooth, cheerful rhythm. Outcome: workbook exercises completed calmly and on time.



These two simple interventions show how TAGteach can quickly change a stressful situation into a calm situation. In each of these cases, the student was unhappy, upset or apprehensive about doing the work. With continuous support, success and a nice reinforcer at the end, both girls completed their assignments accurately and happily.

Friday, November 21, 2014

TAGteach in the Classroom: Managing Group Reinforcement

By Luca Canever

Managing the reinforcement for a group of people is one of the major difficulties that we may encounter. Especially if the people in question are 20 kids, 11 years old, with interests and personalities different from each other.

For the last two months I’ve been working in a school as a teacher. For the first time, I have the chance to use the marker with a large group — a group with no particular desire to be at school! How can we reinforce them? Some of the kids enjoy candies, some others like beads or extra time for recess. There are (they exist!) students who find study itself reinforcing, but, they are very, very, very rare.

What I have decided to do is to take a continuous rotation between different schedules of reinforcement: today we work for extra time for recess; tomorrow we will earn beads and bracelets; after that we will earn points for watching a movie, or to enjoy some favorite activity. It may seem an insurmountable obstacle and demoralizing at a first glance to find reinforcers suitable for a group of people. I think it could be done with a little imagination and desire to come up with new strategies. The more we become able to grasp behaviors to reinforce the easier it will be to reinforce these behaviors.

I used TAGteach in different situations; and even if I’m not using the marker, the principles of the methodology are always present (or at least I hope so…).

TAGteach for Writing Skills

PEN HOLDING: Many students have an incorrect pen holding habit. This can cause problems with the joints of the wrist, and difficulty in writing that could translate into, “I do not like to write,” or “I cannot write.” So if we want to educate future Shakespeares properly, holding the pen properly is the first step.

In this case I used two tag points:
  1. Squeeze your thumb and forefinger
  2. Push with the middle finger

The pen must be taken between thumb and forefinger and then it should rest on the middle finger. I found two good targets for these behaviors on YouTube.

First: put the pen on the table with the tip facing you.

Second: use the index and middle fingers of the left hand to position thumb and index of the writing hand to the correct height on the pen: exactly on the edge indicated by the index finger. The two photos show the two targets.

TAGteach for cursive writing and improving cognition

DYSGRAPHIA: One of my boys has some (fortunately light) cognitive problems. He writes in a disorderly manner and has few skills in the area of working memory. Instead of using some fallback strategies such as writing in capital letters or writing with the computer, I decided (respecting the personality and the expertise of the student), to have him write in cursive. I started with a tag point “Letters on Line,” to improve correct writing.The picture shows the first session we had. The red line shows his “standard” writing. Notice all those ups and downs? The blue line shows where I started marking (tagging “Letters on Line). The tagging session lasted throughout the green line. Then he continued on his own.

The difference is immediately obvious. 15 days after this intervention, the writing is still stable on the line, without me having to do other sessions. Not only that. I noticed that the way the boy is able to organize his thoughts for writing is becoming more streamlined and flowing — as if being able to write in order helps him think in order.

TAGteach for reading

READING SKILLS: Punctuation is not something that my kids are confident with. But reading with expression helps with understanding the text; and the positive experience of reading, according to the motto that I’ve just invented is, “If you can read, then you like to read.” Reading without difficulty means having the skills to study better, faster and more proficiently.

So I started to teach how to respect the pauses of punctuation with peer tagging. In peer tagging, two students work together from the same material. The exercise took place as follows: the first student reads, the second student tags his correct reading of punctuated text. The first tag point is “breathe on commas.” But it could be, at the next level, “Pause on dots,” After five tags the second peer starts reading and is tagged by the next student. That’s if you want the whole class to follow along. If you want to liven it up, just form groups of two or three students, setting shifts for the reader and for the markers with the kids doing the tagging!

About Luca

Luca Canaver is a Level 3 TAGteacher from Italy. Visit his website at:

Monday, November 17, 2014

TAGteach: Better than a Jedi Light Sabre!

This is an account by Seany Fdm Pogson, the father of a non-verbal child with severe developmental delay. Seany has been shaping new behaviors with his daughter, Tink, using TAGteach. Former efforts by therapists to teach Tink using hand-over-hand methods had not worked well and in fact Tink had rebelled against this touching by refusing to cooperate and regressing in some previously learned behaviors. Seany has had huge success with shaping many new behaviors and Tink is very tag savvy (and Seany is an excellent shaper!), so when Tink got sick and required oral antibiotics via syringe, Seany was able to avoid force and shape Tink to accept the syringe and happily take her medicine. Here is his account of this process:

TAGteach Jedi moments

Tink's not well and has an ear infection and the flu. Having an ear infection is also amplified by sensory processing problems, so making sure she has her medicine on time is important. Normally Tink's very good at taking her medicine but this morning not a chance. She pushed the syringe away. I tried once more this time Tink pushed the syringe away and avoided any further attempts by hugging her pillow in her play pen and biting it. This she will do when excited, stressed or if she just needs a hug and gets a hug from her pillow because sometimes she can't cope with the sensory of being hugged. So it was a no go, I couldn't even get anywhere near her mouth. Then I had a Jedi moment and a calm reassuring voice popped in my head like Ben Kenobi (Martha Gabler) "use the tag Seany". Straight away my own voice of determination popped in to my head and said "I can do this shit".

So I got the clicker from my pocket and sat near the playpen for a moment till Tink calmed down a bit from her rocking and biting on her pillow. Then I calmly reached over the to her with the syringe of medicine till I was about foot away from her face were she was burrowing it in the pillow whilst biting it. This was the first tag point and clicked and I paired it with praise "did it " (the clicker now has become a conditioned reinforcer). So I moved it forwards again a bit but waited till a brief pause in the biting as I moved the syringe closer and tagged again (clicked ) and verbal praise. This time as I tagged I noticed a brief sideways eye movement in my direction at the sound of the tag, so I seized the day and moved the syringe closer, tagged again and rewarded with "did it". Tink then moved her head up a bit sideways off the pillow, so again I moved the syringe closer about 2 inches from her mouth and tagged her. Then I moved the syringe to her lips were she grabbed it and put in her mouth and I was able to get over half in and tagged her and rewarded her with "did it yeyyyyyyyy ". At this point I was confident that she would do the same as the last time so I moved the syringe to her lips and she did exactly the same and she emptied the syringe so tagged and big "DID IT " and passed her drink to her.

This is how TAGteach and Applied Behaviour Analysis is teaching me to think. As I use it more, the more effective it and my thinking become. It's teaching me to think on my feet and apply it on my feet. This is far greater than any light sabre and more useful than any force. This is teaching me and my daughter at the same time.

Read more about Tink:

TAGteach Tale:  From Sensory Avoidance to Self-Feeding – Tink’s journey to success
TAGteach Tale: Tink rocked her blood tests!

Find out more about teaching a special needs child with TAGteach:

Martha Gabler (autism mother) TAGteach blog - free tips and step-by-step descriptions 
Free ebook by Martha Gabler: Behavior Basics - A Primer for Parents - ABA terminology explained in simple terms for parents

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Can students learn too fast?


It sounds like a good problem, right, but I wondered if my students were learning as much as they should.  After adding TAGteaching into my classes, either teaching pet parents or Dog Trainers, I noticed we zoomed through our daily course material.  Interestingly, this allowed additional break periods, which increases learning, I think.  Was I doing something wrong?  But why were we moving so fast?  Were students learning and retaining?  What to do with all that extra time?  

Why were we moving so fast?

Since learning about and adding TAGteaching, to classes I teach (entire world actually!), I speak less and practice more.  Now, I’m a talker, really, I am! Speaking less means I need to be very prepared, so I don’t ramble on, to make my point. Rambling is very reinforcing to me, as it redirects my “non-prepared” energy somewhere else, however, I see my students’ eyes glaze over (not very reinforcing to me).  Now, on average, I speak/instruct 30-40% of the time, during a four week class session.  Before, I spoke/instructed 75% of the time - eek! Usually, there’s more chatter on the first day, as everyone is excited and we have a new things to cover.

During a one hour class, I divide into “review” and “new” sessions, with “well used” tag points for common learning curves (think loose leash walking, there’s a lot going on and tag points are fabulous).  During “review”, we cover what was taught last week, or if teaching fellow dog trainers during a seminar, what we covered the day before.  We have plenty of time to practice, add duration, distance and distractions and create behavior chains to strengthen previously learned cues.  Then we move on to the “new” session covering four new behaviors, with practice, under using distractions, adding duration and distance.  Now, I don’t “over do” practice sessions, as it can get boring quickly.  If I see students are successful 80% of the time, during a 1-2 minute practice session, we move on, either to the next “review” or “new” behavior.

Are students learning and retaining?  

Well, I closely observed my students, to confirm they are learning and retaining.  On week one, I explain “if you don’t understand something, this is my fault, I’ve not explained it correctly”, and pet parents interrupt this as “if my dog is confused, I’m not clear, so I need to take a moment and figure this out”. And I do think this calms students, by teaching that the pressure off, I’m not judging, we are in this together.  By Week 3, students were answering their own questions. Ah ha, they are learning and retaining! A pet parent may ask about loose leash walking, in a park, and then say “Oh, that’s right, I need to move slower and reward often in a new situation. Never mind, I think I got it!”  YES!

Hum, so then I looked at class retention.  I would start a new class with 7-8 students and end with 7 students by graduation day, some dropped due to personal reasons, which is normal. 88% retention, on grad day, is not bad!  I remember my 50% retention rate, back in 1998, and I thought that was good! Now, I have clusters of 100% retention, and then I know I was rocking it and review my previous notes so I continue this great behavior!  Hum, so retention is good, they are learning at lightning speed, is this success?  My gut says yes, and classes fill quickly, within one week of advertising, but I wanted to know more.

After class, we always ended with “questions for Fanna” time and no one had any questions! Now, that freaked me out, as someone always has questions. I assumed most would stay after class, to ask their question in private.  Nope!  They thanked me, hugged my neck and left- WOW!  I remember the old days, when people lingered and asked multiple questions, which I know we covered in class already.  And, no “email questions” during the week either - DOUBLE WOW!  

What to do with all that extra time?

Usually, we ended each class session 10-15 minutes early.  Yikes, what to do?  Folks want that extra 10-15 minutes they paid for, right?  This puzzled me, we could practice more, I guess. We added games, but my gut was saying I was “overdoing it”.  Oh Oh, I noticed people sitting down, not participating as much, and offering a “we’ve done this already” face.  Speaking less and practicing more has worked, but practicing too much was punishing. Now what???  We started voting!  If you want to leave early, you are welcome to.  If you want to stay and practice a new trick, you are more than welcome to stay.  WOW - this really seemed reinforcing to students, and usually one person would stay, and was usually the overachiever.  But by Week Three, even the overachiever did not stay after class.  The only question, on graduation day, that pops up  “what class should I take next, we want to keep going”.  Music to my ears!  

I’ve learned, students staying after class, was reinforcing to me. I do miss the long line of students, waiting to get a few “extra” minutes of my time; it makes me feel rather important, like a Rock Star.  And I’m a bit jealous, gazing at the long line my fellow dog trainers accumulate after class.  Then, there I am, alone, left with sticky treat fingers and dog hair fluff, from class. Guess I need to reward myself with going home early too!

Fanna Easter, CPDT-KA, ACDBC, KPA CTP, ABCDT-L2, is very passionate about the power of positive training for dogs and humans! With her past experience, as PETCO’s National Dog Training Expert, where Fanna and her team, tirelessly developed and launched positive reinforcement training methods in all PETCO's 1250 stores and training over 2000 Dog Trainers. Fanna is currently teaching at Dogs and Kat Behavior Counseling and Training Center, in Nashville TN. She teaches everything from Positive Puppy Manners to Relaxed Rovers classes.  Fanna is the Managing Supervisor of Dog Training Nation, and launching their website soon at