Social Skills Resources

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Mellz Bellz, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    Mar 18, 2011

    With all the behavior issues in my classroom I am thinking that maybe I need to clear out my afternoons and focus on some instruction in social skills because a lot of my students behaviors are impeding their academic success. Maybe it'll make the academic part go smoother if I really follow through on this. I was thinking of taking a new skill each week Ex: What to do when I get upset, How to be polite to others, Using Social Niceties etc. and making it our theme. My problem is exactly how to go about it. I've learned about Social Stories in college, but have never had a population of kids who could really benefit from them until now.

    So this is what I want to know:

    Does anyone teach social skills in their classrooms?

    What works and what doesn't?

    Do you have any resources you can share?

    What are some good suggestions for themes to teach children with behavior problems?
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 18, 2011

    Hey Mellz Bellz - for some reason I always seem to be the first one responding to your threads!

    I've done it several times, and on several scales - single class, whole school, etc.

    The basic theory/research behind social skills is pretty clear, but unfortunately there are a lot of things that don't work out there. A few tips:

    - A good acronym I recently found is SAFE - a recent meta-analysis found that effective social skills training (SST) programs had at least the following four characteristics in common: S(equenced) - just like beginning reading, social skills should be sequenced - for example, "listening" comes before "following directions" because listening is a component skill. More on this later. A(ctive) - kids were active in the lessons - role playing, etc. F(ocused) - lessons were focused on specific, discrete skills (not broad topics like "responsibility"). E(xplicit) - instruction was very behaviorally descriptive - very specific about exactly what was expected for the child (e.g., when raising hand should you wave it, sit out of your seat, make the "oooh" noise, or just sit quietly, put your hand down while others are talking, etc.).

    - Make sure your lessons are connected to the rest of your learning environment, and any reward system you might have. In other words, make it integrated - prompt the skills you taught Friday the following Monday, link them into the reward system, etc.

    - In general, most programs follow a four-step instructional model, which is similar to academic instruction - 1) introduce the skill and explain why its important; 2) model the skill using actual scenarios found in the class; 3) have the kids role play the scenario; and (4) provide performance feedback that is specific. More later in the "resources" section.

    - In addition to specific social skills, most research has found it incredibly helpful to include a component on social problem-solving or social information processing (SIP), that includes cognitive skills kids use to process social situations and generate solutions, such as interpreting ambiguous social stimuli, generating alternative responses to aggression, etc.

    - In addition to general SST curricula, there are more specific areas of focus for more specific issues, like relational aggression, anger management, bullying, etc. These components will make a heavier use of components like self-management/monitoring interventions, moral reasoning & social perception training, etc. If you notice a lot of a particular kind of issue going on, it may be helpful to look in this direction.

    - Overall, I've found that simply having SST lessons is of little help, unless it's really integrated into the fabric of the rest of your classroom.

    - The cheapest, most concise, and research-based resource I've found is the Skillstreaming book by McGinnis & Goldstein. There is an accompanying activity book that has printouts, activities, etc. The book is probably $30, and the rest total is probably a little over $100. It has a lot of differents kills to work on, specific sequences, and has different series out for different age groups. Provides a good theoretical overview too. However, by itself it can be a little dry, and doesn't have some of the engaging resources some other curricula have, such as video demonstrations, puppets, and skill photos. Those curricula are more expensive, though.

    http://www.skillstreaming.com/

    - The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) website has an amazing research review of tons of programs, though they aren't all just social skills programs. Some are schoolwide discipline systems, some are social skills training + reinforcement systems, etc. If you want an easy one-stop shop for research reviews, this would be a good place to start. It isn't exhaustive, but it's not bad.


    http://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/progTypesSchoolClassroom.aspx


    - Be very, very leery of "over the counter" SST programs that are cheap and in teacher stores for $20 - typically it's just some curriculum that someone out there put together, with no theoretical construction or research base. These can be good for generating ideas for supplemental activities (e.g., related drama activities), but are often missing core components of what has been found in the literature to constitute "effective."

    What do you mean by "themes?"
     
  4. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2011

    I have a whole list at school of "themes" in behavior management to teach middle school kids with behavior disorders such as "accepting criticism" and "giving a compliment". That is at school. I'll get it Monday.

    Our school is big on Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner. I love it and so do the kids.
     
  5. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2011

    EdEd has posted some great guidelines, and a lot of what I would say he already posted. I absolutely second the necessity of having what you are working on in social skills be reinforced throughout the week. For some kids, demonstrating pro-social behaviors is not motivating inherently - so you have to make it so. I teach social thinking group daily to kids with high functioning autism from my class and the other ASD class. My kids all have a money strip velcroed to their spots during group and can earn pennies (which they later trade for nickels, and the nickels for quarters, and the quarters for dollars, etc.) during group for following rules, kind words, thinking flexibly, problem-solving, etc. I have a "focus skill" posted that is worth a nickel, depending on what we are working on. I make sure to send home an explanation of the skills/strategy to parents and I meet briefly with their gen ed teachers and paras weekly to explain it to them. If we are having a tough week, I sometimes rotate old skills back into the spotlight to be the focus skill, even if we are learning something else.

    Social stories are great, but I think that depending on the kids you have, it is really important to work on teaching them to think about how they (and how others) are thinking, in conjunction to social rules. Interaction with people is a tricky business - I had no idea how tricky until I started to teach it. The rules change depending on who you are with, what you are doing, and how well you know that person.

    I've been using the Superflex curriculum this year with my kids and I love it. I have to modify a lot of the stuff in the actual book, and I make up a lot of my own supplemental materials based on my kids' interest and ability levels, but the core concept is wonderful and my kids LOVE it and are so motivated by it. It centers around a comic book hero (Superflex) and a team of Unthinkables (comic book bad guys) who might try to invade people's brains and make them do unfriendly things. Through focusing on one Unthinkable at a time, the kids learn specifics about what anti-social behaviors they might exhibit are, and strategies to "defeat" the Unthinkable when they notice it in their brains. It focuses a lot on emotional regulation, noticing environmental cues, and choosing to act in a more socially appropriate way.

    Also, there is a kick*** SLP here in the good old state of MN who has a blog with wonderful ideas, suggestions, activities, and visuals for teaching social thinking. I know her! She's awesome. Definitely check out her stuff.

    http://jillkuzma.wordpress.com/

    Also - my kids LOVE video modeling. We often do something like invite gen ed peers to play games with us and then I videotape it and we watch it together later to evaluate how we did using our Superflex strategies. They also love when I video us role-playing.
     
  6. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2011

    Thanks everyone for your resources! I will have to really do some research and check some of these things out. It sounds like teaching social skills is a lot more complex than people may think! I do not have a lot of experience with children with severe behaviors until this year and I think I went into it just thinking that if I was super tough they would shape up. Now I realize that it is a lot deeper and I might need to step back and actually TEACH them how to respect adults, and how to answer someone back without yelling. I'm so used to assuming that by 9 or 10 they should know these things, but maybe that is not the case.

    I wanted to start it a little towards the end of school, but we will see. It may be something I want to look at more in depth for next year. (Then I'll have all summer to plan.) I'll definitely have to look into the Superflex program. I think my boys would love that!

    And by themes I mean ideas for skills that I could teach.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 19, 2011

    If you can break down academic skills and teach them explicitly, you can do the same with behavioral skills - it's essentially the same process, with a few extra steps, but it's nothing you can't handle! Yeah, you can get in-depth, but it's easy to get started too.

    Gotcha about the "themes" - I generally break down skills into categories: social problem-solving, academic survival skills (e.g., asking for help), friendship-making skills, conflict resolution skills, emotional competency, self-management, and then some of the more "subskill" areas like anger management, etc. The skillstreaming book does a pretty good job of sorting skills as well, including putting them in the right order.
     
  8. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Mar 19, 2011

    Here are some books you may want to read and some websites with links related to social skills/social stories:

    Rubrics:

    http://bcsd.k12.ny.us/specialeducation/pdfs/Rubric/BCSD ElementarySEB Rubric.pdf
    http://bcsd.k12.ny.us/specialeducation/pdfs/Rubric/K-2 Soc Comm .pdf
    http://bcsd.k12.ny.us/specialeducation/pdfs/Rubric/Soc comm grades 3-5.pdf
    http://bcsd.k12.ny.us/specialeducation/pdfs/Rubric/Social_Skills_Rubric.pdf
    http://bcsd.k12.ny.us/specialeducation/pdfs/Rubric/Social_Emotional_Behavioral_Rubric.pdf

    Here are some sites with links to resources in microsoft word document format:

    http://www4.smsd.org/leaannpasquale/docs.htm
    http://www4.smsd.org/postivebehaviorsupports/html31635.htm
    http://www4.smsd.org/lisamross/docs.htm
    http://www4.smsd.org/behaviorspecialists/html28011.htm
    https://sites.google.com/a/apps.edina.k12.mn.us/mrs-spangenberg-s-room/Home/social-stories
    http://www4.smsd.org/autism/html29358.htm

    Some PDF social skill resources:

    http://do2learn.com/organizationtools/SocialSkillsToolbox/EndingAConversation.pdf
    http://do2learn.com/organizationtools/SocialSkillsToolbox/participatinginreciprocalconversation.pdf
    http://do2learn.com/organizationtools/SocialSkillsToolbox/respondingtoquestionshandout.pdf
    http://do2learn.com/organizationtools/SocialSkillsToolbox/stayingontopichandout.pdf


    More links:
    http://www.nwresd.k12.or.us/autism/PersonalSpace1.html
    http://www.nwresd.k12.or.us/autism/UsingInappropriateLanguage.html
    http://www.dotolearn.com/organizationtools/SocialSkillsToolbox/AppropriateTopicsOfConverstion.htm
    The sun news has great articles related to learning and teaching different social skills
    skills: http://graycenter.wordpress.com/
     
  9. neenuh

    neenuh New Member

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    Jun 18, 2011

    I am doing Skillstreaming with our LSH therapist and school psychologist this coming school year. We're looking at pushing it in twice a week, with the help of a couple of general ed students for modeling good social skills. (I normally have 2 teacher assistant/students throughout the day. So it will be a reverse mainstream.) At the moment, I'm still trying to learn the kit (book, skill cards, etc.), and figuring out a model/format for our service. Social skills used to be a supplemental service in our district, but we are transitioning into making it a direct service to our students with ASD.
     
  10. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 18, 2011

    You've already gotten a lot of good ideas, but I just wanted to mention one thing. My social skills lessons were set up like a therapy session. I'd actually have my kids move their chairs in a circle and we'd just talk things out. Sometimes I read them a short story (there's a set of Disney books about social skills, like Pinnochio is about "honesty" etc.), or we'd use this deck of discussion cards I got at a conference, I think they were called "Life Skills" deck or something like that. But I'd have the kids talk to one another and my para would help and sometimes they could really hash things out that way.

    This method is particularly good with girls because they LOVE to talk. Boys are a little more difficult because they need to move...
     
  11. jmonte98

    jmonte98 New Member

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    Jul 10, 2011

    www.classroomconflict.com

    Try "Give Me Back My Pencil," the new conflict resolution musical, as a teaching tool for teaching respect and everyday kindness in the elementary school classroom!
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Here are some of their resources:

    Teaching Tolerance's educational kits and subscriptions to its magazine are FREE to classroom teachers, school librarians, school counselors, school administrators, professors of education, leaders of homeschool networks, youth directors at houses of worship and employees of youth-serving nonprofit organizations.

    Search within the kits
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    Beyond the Golden Rule
    Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice offers practical advice about the challenges and rewards of parenting in today's diverse world. Psychologists, educators and parenting experts offer practical, age-appropriate advice to help you integrate lessons of respect and tolerance in day-to-day activities.

    Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History
    Level:Grades 6 to 8Grades 9 to 12
    Subject:Reading and Language ArtsSocial StudiesScience and HealthArtsELL / ESL Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. It can become a cornerstone of anti-bullying efforts in middle and high schools.

    Civil Discourse in the Classroom
    Level:Grades 6 to 8Professional Development
    Subject:Reading and Language ArtsSocial Studies These tools lay the groundwork for productive, reasoned and lively discussions on a variety of topics. They also will give students “training wheels” for learning how to have reasoned arguments outside the classroom.
     
  14. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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