At my recent assignment at the middle school, I did push-in speech therapy sessions with the life-skills classroom. Students had a variety of skill levels. It can be a challenge to find activities everyone can do and enjoy. There was not a curriculum or materials available to me so I ended up using my ingenuity to make lessons. That is when I was thankful for the history I have posted here. I dug back to the beginning of my post archives. I did find some inspiration but it was also an eye opener. My posts have come along way since then and the post really didn’t look to appealing. I thought a revision would be helpful since it is unlikely many are finding it from six years back.
The original post was labeled Concept Group 12. A real catchy title uh. That was before I realized the importance of a title for search engines or appeal. It was a time when I was pushing into Kindergarten classes and teaching concepts using group activities. Although each lesson focused on concept vocabulary, we also worked on taking turns, asking questions, and following directions. The lesson I used this last week with my middle school life skill students focused on the concepts of right, left, top bottom, half, whole, and match. The class still benefitted from working on social pragmatic skills, following directions, and concept vocabulary.
You need some old alphabet animal cards for this activity. Prepare the cards ahead for use in the classroom.
The ones I used came from an old reading program that was taken out of circulation. There are two free downloads available on the internet from Jason’s Online Classroom and Jan Brett’s blog.
To prepare the cards, I cut them in half.
Divide them into two piles. One pile should have the upper halves and the other pile the bottom halves. Count out the number of cards to the number of students. There is a possibility of 26 matched sets so you may not need all of them. Do make sure you have the matches in the two piles.
In the classroom, pass out the top halves of the cards to students and talk about how it is only the top half of the card or animal. Show them that you have the other bottom half of their cards.
Mix up the 2nd pile of bottom half cards and place them in a box. Let the students draw a random card and match it to the card they already have. This creates a somewhat cooky animal which often elicits some laughter. You can take this opportunity to ask them if they have a match and how do they know it is not a match. You can also talk about bottom and top.
The next part works best if students are seated in a circle. It involves following one and two part directions as you direct them to pass the top or bottom to the student on the left or right. I vary the directions according to the ability level of the group. They may not be able to handle two part directions such as hand the top card to the person on the right. in that case I bring it down to one step such as pass the bottom card and direct the direction. After each pass they look to see if they have a match. If they get a whole set they can keep it and discontinue the passing. Keep going until everyone has found their whole card.
I am just discovering the full potential of a free app called Tap Roulette – Make Decisions with Friends put out by laan labs. You can find it in the App Store for your iPad. I have no affiliation with this app. I just find that I use it consistently so I thought I would review it. Basically students put one finger down on the screen and lights appear alternating under the fingers until one is lit up. It is a random impartial way to make choices. Obviously it is a good app to use in therapy to choose quickly who goes first and who can choose an activity. I found out this tool actually has some additioal side benefits.
I have several students who have difficulties regulating their feelings and reactions with unexpected events in which they have no control. They end up with undesirable behaviors or refuse to join in an activity that is not of their choosing. I use Tap Roulette to set up such a situation so they can practice their strategies to remain calm and stay with the group.
It is very important to do pre-teaching of the strategies. There are a lot of programs out there that promote self-regulation and those techniques need to be taught before hand. Some of the strategies may be things you are familiar with such as deep breathing and self talk. I usually get student buy in and assurance from them before we start. We all have bad days so no use using it then. Even the ones that have the most difficulty usually want to do it. If they are not chosen and remain calm I give a lot of praise for keeping feelings in check and staying with the group. This seems to be a strong reinforcement that starts to break the cycle of an immediate blow up. This is such an important skill for students to learn socially in order to get along with their peers and function in a classroom.
I use Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® curriculum with many of my students. One of the concepts that is explored in this curriculum is “I have thoughts about you and you have thoughts about me.” In other words, people are always thinking about each other and they may have comfortable or uncomfortable thoughts depending on their actions. This may affect how they treat individuals in the future. People want to be with people they are comfortable with and have good thoughts about. They may avoid those that don’t make them feel comfortable. Therefore being able to tell the difference between what is expected behavior in given situations and what is unexpected can help us when making and keeping our friends. You can find more information on her concepts at http://www.socialthinking.com/
I needed a good set of task cards to review actions that students may do or observe others do. You may find them useful if you are teaching from this curriculum. They are double sided with an unexpected behavior on one side and a matching expected behavior on the other side.
I put the cards in a draw bag. The students reached in and drew a card out, and placed it on the table. They then decided if the side facing up was an expected behavior or unexpected. They talked about how the actions make them feel. If the unexpected is presented first, students can talk about what they think the expected behavior would be on the other side.
Students checked their answers by using the Top Secret UV light which I got at our book fair. I put a U or and E in the box for them to check. There is also a QR code for those who would prefer to use a scanner. My students find this motivating and they can self check if they are working in small table groups.
The draw bag is an easy thing to make. I took a sleeve off an old sweater and sewed across the bottom. The cuff makes a nice finished opening and the bag is stretchy. It has got to be the easiest bag I have ever made.
In my TPT packet, there are 28 expected cards and 28 matching unexpected cards side by side. They are meant to be printed on card stock, cut on the horizontal lines and folded back to make a double sided card. I put a box on each card so I could write with my UV light pen a U or E in the box. Students can light the answer up. I also put a QR code for those who like that option. The QR code is from http://www.qrstuff.com/. When scanned it will read expected or unexpected to correspond to the side it is on.
I am putting 2 pages of the cards below for you to review as a freebie. If you like them consider getting the full set at TPT. Just click on the cover page button at the top for a direct link to the product. Your patronage covers the cost of this website and keeps it advertisement free, except for me I suppose. I am trying to keep the commercial aspect down and provide resources. I know most of us are on really tight budgets.
Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale on Aug 4th and 5th. If you are waiting for the right time to get back to school materials, now is the time. Don’t forget to use the Promo code when you check out to get the full discount.
In a previous post I mentioned how I worked with students to recognize comments and questions and how they should make a reply. I made comment and reply cards last Spring. I have since updated them to include pictures. I’m putting a trial set here for my readers to try out. If they look like something you could use, the full set is on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Reply to a Comment trial set
Quick link to Teachers Pay Teachers.
Students are sometimes referred to Child Study Team (CST) because of difficulties relating to peers. Concerns revolve around the student saying inappropriate things, being picked on and starting fights on the playground. When you talk to the student, you may find they have limited interests and talk excessively on one topic. They have difficulties taking turns during a conversation. In their attempts to enter a conversation they say something that can be perceived as an insult or bragging. This results in a fight or peers not wanting to interact with them. The student then feels picked on or shunned.
Sometimes these students have a diagnosis of Aspergers or high functioning autism and are on our caseloads. They may need direct instruction on how to have a conversation. Learning the art of having a conversation can help alleviate some of the difficulties. However, it is a very difficult skill to teach without structure. Left to their own devices, the a session may go something like this. A student will start a topic of high interest to them. The other students interrupt to make off topic comments. One student dominates the topic with multiple comments until another student manages to derail to another topic with multiple comments. It becomes a competition to control the topic rather than enjoy an exchange of information. No one feels they have been listened to and arguments occur as they interrupt each other. Each student feels that only their topic and comments are right. I have actually had a student say they won because they had the most papers out.
How do we provide structure so it becomes a learning task? It is important to break down skills in in smaller increments so they can understand and practice. I have used colored paper shapes as visual cues to illustrate turn taking, topic changes and questions and comments.
Can you guess which conversation is interactive with multiple people talking about a topic. Which conversation is more likely people talking for themselves?
During this process I have discovered many of our students do not know how to start a conversation or recognize when another student is giving them an opening to start a conversation. They may not see the differences between a question and a comment and do not understand the hidden expectations of both. When a comment is said, they may misinterpret its intent and not respond appropriately. I made comment and reply cards so that my students could work on this directly. There is a full set at the TPT store. You can reach them directly by hitting the button at the top of the page or the button below.
There is also a set of trial cards here.