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ClickerExpo is Back!

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Many people last year were surprised to find that there is much more to clicker training than they had supposed. This year we are taking it to a new level. We listened to your comments and requests, and I think you'll be thrilled with the new program, with four simultaneous tracks instead of three. Here's your chance to catch what you missed the first time around, and a lot of new programs as well.

Both ClickerExpos will be in beautiful hotels-in Orlando, the Sheraton World, where APDT was held last year; lots of room, gorgeous gardens, great food, and a choice of swimming pools-and in San Diego, the new Mission Valley Hilton, with the San Diego Zoo just minutes away.

ClickerExpo Orlando is open for registration now and ClickerExpo San Diego will open for registration later this month. Early bird registration deadline for Orlando is July 30. For more details, see the ClickerExpo Orlando Schedule and FAQs.

Now, here are some specifics about the increased depth and breadth of the program. First, a few critical and highly acclaimed topics have been extended to two sessions, including Kathy Sdao's wonderful introductory course, "A Moment of Science" and Kathy's course on teaching clicker classes, "Clicking with Class"; Steve White's course on scent discrimination, "Make Scents"; and Emma Parsons's workshops on calming aggressive behavior through clicker training, "Click to Calm."

We're also going to give you very specific advanced courses, such as a whole session on back-chaining, "Get Connected"; Virginia Broitman and Sherri Lippman's sessions on reaching fluency, "Distance, Duration, and Distraction" and on compound cues, "Power Tools"; and Kay Laurence's class on stabilizing the shaped behavior, "Picture Perfect." Ken Ramirez of the Shedd Aquarium will teach an advanced session on modifier cues for marine mammals and for dogs, "Did He Say Left, or Right?"

We also have a whole round up of sessions addressing canine competition including agility, such as "Agility and the Handler," and "Clicker Solutions for Agility," as well as competition obedience, "What's So Hard About That?" We have sessions for vets and vet techs focusing on husbandry, "Clicking in the Vet Clinic," a session by Sheri Soltes on teaching assistance dogs, clicker style, "May I Help You?" and my session on clicking in shelters, "Click for Life."

And, as people discovered in the first ClickerExpos, some of the best ideas and biggest surprises will come from the classes that "aren't about dogs," such as TAGteaching "TAG Don't Nag" with children in gymnastics, dance, and team sports; or using clicker training in the zoo setting, or Clicking Critters (cats, rabbits, birds, and more). We have two sessions by Alexandra Kurland, the leader in clicker training for horses, including a great new practical course on using the lead line (or leash) as information, rather than just for control or punishment; people will take turns being leader and "horse" or "dog" in "Being Mr Ed: Clicker Training from the Horses Perspective." Plus, we will have the latest in clicker research results from Professor Jesus Rosales-Ruiz at the University of North Texas.

Most of the sessions are a combination of lecture, video, and live demonstrations. Many have short exercises you can do with your dog during the sessions. The most heavily participatory sessions include Steve White's two-part course on scent training, and Meeting the Challenge: Teaching Complex and Novel Behaviors Quickly with Kay Laurence, taught on Friday and Saturday. Kay's sessions will include the training of the Challenges for the day; people who have signed up for the Challenge will train under Kay's supervision, with running commentary by Kay for observers. Then, after a short break, we'll all get to watch the competition, on stage. So be sure to sign up for the Clicker Challenge!

There's so much more as well; I could go on and on. We'll have the very popular game night, daily Clicker Challenge competition, and Dinner with Expo Faculty. But really, you should see for yourself, so go ahead and look at the session details now or visit www.clickertraining.com/clickerexpo. You can also get a feel for ClickerExpo by viewing the marvelous short movie about ClickerExpo made by our friends at Agilite.

Just having so many skilled operant trainers around to talk with, during breaks and outside of sessions, is a marvelous experience and one of the many things that make ClickerExpo a unique event for attendees and faculty alike.
Meet the ClickerExpo Faculty.

For the experienced trainer, this will be a real feast. For the new-to-clicker trainer, please study the suggestions about which sessions to choose, and you'll experience a three-day crash course in clicker training that will start you off at the top of the escalator.

Scientists welcome TAGteachâ„¢ at international conference

This year the Association for Behavior Analysis held its annual international conference in Boston, my hometown. Behavior analysis is the science underlying clicker training. This conference has often featured presentations on clicker training for animals. This year I chaired the first symposium about training people with the clicker, titled "Marker Based Shaping ('clicker training') for Human Subjects." We led off with the work being done by Theresa McKeon, Joan Orr, and Beth Wheeler, using the clicker to teach gymnastics, dance, and other physical skills to children. All I can say is wow! In fact, everyone said "wow."

The TAGteaching research data and videos were enthusiastically received by the behavior analytic crowd. Many instantly saw the applications to their own disciplines, ranging from sports coaching to speech therapy to special education. Two behavior analysts who are also dads confessed being moved to tears by the joy on the faces of the children as they learned new and sometimes difficult moves. Former ABA president, Henry Pennypacker, Ph.D., commented that TAGteach was the "highlight of the conference," and called it "a turning point in education." And I agree. We're seeing adults and children developing and acquiring physical skills far faster than what anyone, to my knowledge, has been able to achieve; and we're doing it without punishment or correction. That is indeed deserving of a "wow."

The TAG letters stand for Teaching with Acoustical Guidanceâ„¢. While the underlying principles are the same, TAGteaching differs from clicker training in a number of ways. For one thing, people can talk, so you can tell your learner what the "tag point" is: "I'm going to TAG bending your knees before you jump." For another thing, even very young children can tag each other for a particular pose or move; their timing and observational skills are excellent and both the tagger and the taggee learn the moves in the process.

ClickerExpo attendees got a sneak preview of this presentation last season; and Theresa and Joan will again be on the faculty for Orlando and San Diego.

TAGteach: Coach-Seminar coming soon!

Most importantly, I want to tell you about first national TAGteach two-day conference in the Boston area, on the campus of Bentley College, October 9-10: TAGteach: Coach. The TAG team will explore in-depth TAG teach principles and applications in education and physical skill development.

TAGteach will likely revolutionize the way you practice your craft. If you are a coach, behavior analyst, teacher (special or general education), martial arts instructor, or therapist this is an event that you really should go out of your way to attend. (See: Who Should Attend). The topics include teaching how to break down behaviors into TAG points and recognizing core TAG points (BID system), how to create highly successful TAG sessions using the cutting-edge practice of peer tagging and virtual tagging, (PowerTAG), innovations in motivation and reward systems, (Fuel The Fire), team sports and more with plenty of hands-on TAG practice.

To get a sense of the power of TAGteaching read the article "Clicking Bodies and Minds" by Theresa McKeon on how TAGteaching changes the thinking of young gymnasts.

I'll be at the TAGteach conference, both keynoting and teaching as will Theresa, Joan, and Beth. Please join us and pass the word! For more information or to register call 1 877 - TAG-0002; visit www.tagteach.com; or e-mail info [at] tagteach [dot] com.

Coming in the Letter from Karen for July 2004: More clicker research and news from the ABA convention, including an exciting research demonstration of "poisoning the cue."

About the author
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Karen Pryor is the founder and CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy. She is the author of many books, including Don't Shoot the Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind. Learn more about Karen Pryor or read Karen's Letters online.

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