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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Social Skills 101 in the Classroom

It's so nice to be back and blogging again!  I had an amazing summer with a LONG road trip.  My husband and I drove from Arizona to California, up the coast through Oregon, Washington, then on to Victoria BC, Vancouver BC and back home through the Canadian Rockies, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Colorado.  Whew!  It was a blast AND we are happy to be home. 

I spent time this summer thinking about the struggles I see my student teachers having with basic behavior issues in their K-3 classrooms.  So many of our little ones are coming to class minus the basic social skills and manners necessary to be socially successful.

This issue put me in mind of the system I developed to help my kinder and 1st graders when I was teaching in the elementary school system.

I felt just the way many of you do.  I hated having to address a child's behavior.  I always felt that no matter how careful I was, it was embarrassing to the child.  I hated wasting my instruction time on classroom management issues.  I wanted a fun, happy, and positive way to coach my little ones about classroom expectations (which by the way, always happened to be  life expectations).

Here is what I developed that was extremely successful.  It virtually eliminated negative interactions around classroom behavior and the system gave us a common goal that was fun to implement.

Step 1:  I introduced one social skill a week that included a poster with visual cues.
Step 2:  We reviewed the steps every morning (at circle time) along with a "reminder chant".
Step 3:  I used puppets (for the kinders and sometimes the 1st graders) to model the behavior.  As the year went on and the 1st graders became more proficient in reading, the children engaged in a readers theater using my puppet script.
Step 4:  I had at least one hands-on activity for the students to complete focusing on the weekly skill.  This gave them something to take home, insuring that the parents became aware of the skill we were working on.

At the end of the week, the poster with the visual cues was moved to the "We can do it!" wall for reference whenever needed.

Here is an examples of a skill and visual cues:

 I have started packaging these sets.  Each set contains:
  • A poster with visual cues.
  • Directions for teaching the skill throughout the week.
  • A skill related chant
  • A skill related readers theater 
  • A skill related sequencing activity  
 I have put together three packets so far:

If you are interested in giving this system a try, just leave a comment along with which Social Skills packet you want to try.  Please remember to leave your  your email address also. 

It's great to be back!