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The Tough Kid: On Task in a Box

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What is it?

The Tough Kid On-Task in a Box is for kids who lack concentration, are unfocused, or are focused on anything but instruction—another student, a toy, a fly on the wall, or a leaf blower outside. These students fail to pay attention during academic activities. They are our daydreamers—chronically off task and underachieving. Time on task is generally 50–60% or less. So, what to do? The Tough Kid On-Task in a Box employs the following research-based strategies: self-monitoring, self-graphing, and video peer modeling.

Evidence Based

Students improved time on task from a baseline average of 32% to 88% after implementing the procedures in On-Task in a Box. At follow-up, students had an average on-task rate of 85% in their regular classrooms.

Procedures include:

  • Student Referral and Initial Observation
  • Work With the Classroom Teacher
  • On-Task in a Box Lessons with Video Peer Modeling and Fast-Hands Animation
  • Follow-up Observations
  • Fading

It's all in the box!

  • Comprehensive step-by-step procedures
  • Two MotivAiders (timers that can be set for random intervals)
  • A DVD with Peer Modeling and Fast-Hands Animation
  • Motivational materials, including a Reward Spinner
  • CD of reproducible masters

The Tough Kid On-Task in a Box can be implemented with individual students, buddies, or a whole class.


For Grades:
Publication Date:
  Manual (256 pp), 1 CD of fillable reproducible forms, 1 DVD, 2 MotivAiders, 1 Spinner
Product ID:
  William R. Jenson and Marilyn Sprick
Price: N/A

William Jenson, Ph.D.



William R. Jenson is a professor and past chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Utah. He received his Ph.D. in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis from Utah State University in 1975.

He directed the Adolescent Residential Unit in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Children's Behavior Therapy Unit (CBTU) for Salt Lake Mental Health. CBTU is a day hospital program for severely emotionally disturbed and autistic children.

Dr. Jenson's interests include behavior management for severe behavior problems, behavioral assessment, school-based interventions, parent training, applied technology, and meta-analytic research.

View all titles by Dr. Jenson


Marilyn Sprick, M.S.

Marilyn Sprick


Marilyn Sprick is the lead author of Read Well K–2, Read Well Spelling and Writing Conventions 1 and 2, and Read Well Composition 1. With more than 35 years in education, Marilyn has been a general education teacher, special education teacher, and Title I learning specialist.

As an educational consultant, Marilyn has provided training in literacy, curriculum adaptation, and collaborative instruction for thousands of teachers throughout the United States and Canada. Marilyn’s focus is on scaffolding and differentiating curriculum, explicit instruction, motivating students, and diagnostic prescriptive teaching. She is well respected for her ability to inspire teachers and translate research into classroom practice.

Marilyn is also author of “Intervention B: Academic Assistance” in Interventions: Evidence-Based Behavioral Strategies for Individual Students and a coauthor of Meaningful Work, Tough Kid: On-Task in a Box, and SMART Kids: Social Grace, Manners, and Respectful Talk. Marilyn is president of Pacific Northwest Publishing, a small, elite publishing house that focuses on highly effective, research-based resources for educators.

Read Well K-2 Training. Marilyn Sprick and a group of highly qualified trainers provide expert professional development in the K–2 Read Well programs. For additional information, training tips and hints, visit the Read Well Teach Well website.

View all titles by Marilyn Sprick