Social Skills and The Size of the Problem

21 Feb

 

button size of the problem

The need for social skills groups continues to grow at the elementary school where I teach.   We had enough students to form two groups this school year.  One group is made primarily of second graders and the other fourth and fifth graders. The counselor and I teach these classes together.
We have used  Leah Kuypers The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com) and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® materials for our lesson planning.  Recently we have worked on identifying emotions and how they fall into the 5 zones.  For a brief overview, the Zones are 5 color coded signs that rank from the lowest blue zone of low alertness which relate to being calm,  or tired to the red zone of heightened alertness which relates to feelings such as anger or fear. You can  click on the web sites to obtain more explicit information.

Size of problem

These colors and zones can also be used when talking about the size of a problem. Students determine if a problem is at the lowest level which would be a glitch in our day or at the highest level a crisis difficult to correct. Other problems may fall somewhere in between. When compared with the zones of regulation students  can see if the emotional reaction is appropriate to the problem. This also leads to talking about possible solutions.
When starting this unit, I found it difficult to find appropriate scenarios for the students to rate. They came up with a few on their own but typically do not think of the full range. you would be surprised at how much comes in as being a crisis.  I created 26 cards with written scenarios.  I added another four blank cards that if drawn the student would make up their own. The scenarios are ones that are common to students. I used  Ned’s head for drawing out cards.  Ned’s head is a good way to add humor to the situation and remind students that they may be  thinking and seeing from one perspective inside their head. They can step out to see another perspective and problem solve.  Here are a sample of the cards.  You can down load them and test them out by clicking the button below.

free trial button

You can reach the the full set by clicking the button below.

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Ned

Bad Thing, Good Thing; It is the perspective you take..

13 May

badthinggoodthingcoverjpgI imagine some of you are wrapping up your school year and ready for a break.  We still have 4 weeks to go here.  I am still doing lesson planning in the middle of all those end of the year IEPs and progress reports.  I can’t help thinking about last year’s contract negotiation issues which caused an unplanned for week off.  This year is going much better.  Looking at the bright side, I developed some strong relationships with my fellow teachers with all that walking.  It paid off in my interactions this school year.  This got me thinking about how bad things often have a silver lining, and how that carries us through to a better future.   My inflexible thinkers often have difficulty seeing this possibility and have difficulty making a recovery when things go badly.  It may be one of the most important life skills  to develop.  If you are using a Social Thinking Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner, www.socialthinking.com, it fits in well with determining  “The size of the problem.”

I decided to address this ability to turn a bad thing into a good thing more directly. We’ve been using cards I made called “Bad Thing Good Thing’.  I started using them with my 3rd and 4th graders who are part of a social skills group. That was tough.  The inability to think flexibly was very apparent and they needed a lot of prompting to think otherwise.  The 5th grader did better.  I was worried that I might have created something too difficult for the age range so I brought them out for my articulation students working on sounds in conversational speech.  The 3rd graders through 5th graders were able to do them without prompting and pretty automatically.  I concluded that these cards were very telling about a deficit area.

I am putting the full set of 32 cards on TPT.  You can reach it by clicking on the button at the top of the page.

images of bad thing

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I am listing the first 11 cards here  Good Thing no. eleven cards.  I would love to get your feed- back on how they work for your students.