Spleems and tootles…a teacher’s best friends?

Research Assistant Sunny Finnegan (left) and Dr. Jason Fruth are studying potential benefits of the PAX Good Behavior Game.

“Spleems,” “tootles,” and a little harmonica could soon prove to be among a teacher’s most valuable classroom management tools.

Jason Fruth, Ph.D., assistant professor in Wright State’s Department of Education, was recently awarded a $13,000 research initiation grant by the College of Education and Human Services and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to study effects of the PAX Good Behavior Game on elementary school classrooms in several local public school districts.

Fruth has also applied for an $11,000 grant from the Ohio Education Research Center.

“Teaching kids self-regulation has resounding effects, both on classroom management and adult outcomes,” Fruth said. “The PAX game teaches students to become self-regulating.”

Student teams in a classroom compete against each other to earn rewards for avoiding disruptive, inattentive, or aggressive behavior—spleems. Students recognize good behavior in others—tootles. Tootle notes are sent home with deserving students, and teams that avoid spleems are rewarded. Teachers use a small harmonica to signal the beginning and end of the formal game time.

Perhaps only a few minutes will be devoted strictly to the PAX game, but the new behavior patterns can impact the rest of the school day. Some studies indicate that the drop in student disruptions can help add more than 60 minutes per day in instructional time.

Fruth first heard of the game during a department retreat in the fall of 2012 and trained to become a game “coach” in November. Wright State hosted the PAX national training program in February. Grant funds helped create the Office for Educational Research, which partners with local school districts, including the Dayton Public Schools, for PAX research. Fruth and Anya Senetra of the Greene County Educational Services Center will co-teach a PAX course to undergraduates at Wright State this fall.

“We’re excited about what these studies will show us about the long-term effects of PAX,” Fruth said. “It’s about so much more than just making kids be good. It’s about prevention, which is far more effective than just reacting.”

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