Social Skills Updates

28 Jul

The In Spontaneous Speech blog is in the process of much needed reconstruction and updating. The adventure started when I recently updated the Social Skills products on my Teachers Pay Teachers Site. This resulted in the free sample products not matching here on the site and needing updating. Of course it then became a cascading effect of changes, some external and some internal. However, I think you will like the changes. I will move on to the other headings later on, and I will keep you updated. Please read on to discover the changes.

First I updated the free product samples on the Social Skills Page, and they are ready for downloading. I started with the Social Skills Page since many of those cards were the oldest and seemed the most outdated. I used new clip art and added additional cards to some of these products.

When you have a chance, download the new free samples and replace your older ones. You can check out the new free samples by clicking on Social Skills on the index strip at the top and following the page down. You will notice the new buttons.

I switched the down load storage site so it should be easier to do downloads. In the past you may have encountered a two step process to get to the down load and sometimes may have received a message that the site had reached its maximum downloads. This was another complicating factor of the old infrastructure. When I started many years ago, I used Keep & Share, Photobucket, and a few other places as data storage sites. I had links going to 3 or more places and some of those places have since added restrictions. It made it difficult to figure out where problems were occurring if something stopped working. It became quite an undertaking to keep the links going.

Thank you for your product support because you have kept this site going and helped with the improvements since it’s conception. Very little is free in life so I am sure you aware that this site costs a bit to operate. The product sales have allowed me to get to a self hosted site with download capability within the site. This alleviated the need for multiple storage sites and all those links. I have been switching the links as I get to them.

This adventure also started because I started to cringe at some of the cards from those older sets. My clip art was less than stellar. Originally, I made them for my use and didn’t have time for frill. Now I have more time to explore digital art which was another interest of mine.

When I first started making task cards, I didn’t have experience with digital art or drawing tools you use on computers. I began drawing my own clipart because I couldn’t always find the clip art I was looking for. I wanted figures that were relevant to the content of the card and not the same figures everyone else was using. I didn’t want the clip art to depict very young children, because I know some of the students using my cards might be older than average for a grade. I knew older children may get put off by clip art that appears to depict young children. I also needed some very specific actions and objects.

Within the last year, I have acquired a notepad and stylet. I have been making digital art using the free app, Auto Desk Sketchbook. After trying other programs, this one seems to make the most sense to me. I love drawing without buying all those supplies that go with it. I discovered how to use layers, which allows you to revise drawings multiple times without having to start over, which is a real plus for me.

Before I close, a reminder to those who have purchased the full card sets on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will be able to download the updated versions free by just getting another download on the TPT site. They are all listed under the original titles. The card sets in the Social Skills Communication Bundle are all included in the update and can also be purchased separately. To get to the TPT site, click on the picture below.

I am ending this post using the thought process of Bad Thing and Good Thing. Bad Thing: Updating is a real headache and overwhelming after 7 years of building a foundation on trial and error. Good thing: Hosting a Blog has been a great hobby and learning experience. There was something cathartic about writing it all down. It gave me a boost and support at work when I forgot materials going between multiple work sites. I could bring up what I needed on a lap top or iPad. It was a great creative outlet. Finally, it forced me to look at my data files and create a better filing system.

With any such endeavors, there are a lot of chances for errors. Please let me know if there are errors on products so I can make corrections. It seems like a few always slip through. Constructive suggestions are always welcome.

A Flexible Brain Revisited

10 Apr

 

 

I published a post quite a few years ago about making a flexible brain.  It was a very popular post at the time. I decided to re-publish this post because for me the jello brain lesson tended to come up in the month of April and is relevant for many today when using the popular Superflex  program by Michelle Garcia Winner who is author of Social Thinking Curriculums.  For those who do not know the program, There is a character, Superflex,  who conquers Rock Brain who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing and being rigid in his thinking pattern.

The lesson required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in an ever changing environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible brain. The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain and the mold itself for the inflexible version.

I was able to order a brain mold from a Halloween prop store.  Now there are quite a few alternatives where you can order a mold on line.  Just do a search for brain molds.  It was fairly inexpensive and I used it multiple times.

The manual did not give actual directions or a recipe for the mold.  I have a bad history with Jello molds from the 1970s. My jello would stick to the mold and never turn out and lose it’s shape. There was also the problem of trying to work in the time line of classes  at  two different  sites. I needed to be able to transport it.  I figured the Jello would melt and be over the table before the first session was up.

I researched Jello brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid even if it wasn’t in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  So I settled for the following recipe. It worked well.

You need the following ingredients:

3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporated milk (12 ounce can), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable oil spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its shape for several hours. In between sessions I slipped it back into the mold and put it back in the refrigerator.

For the lesson, slips of paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns pulling  these out and talking  about them.

I debated the best method of getting the papers in the Jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold. This worked better than pouring the jello mixture over them. This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain kind of resealed itself and was in good shape after the papers were removed.  I reinserted the laminated papers into the same locations for the next group and used it again.

No one asked if they could eat it.  I wouldn’t recommend it after all that examination with tweezers and handling of papers.

I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.  The photo at the top is my original jello brain.

Social Skill Activity Using Tangram Puzzles

1 Mar

A Tangram Puzzle is an old Chinese tile game that consists of seven geometric shapes called tans.  The tans usually consist of a square, 5 triangles and a parallelogram. The shapes can be used to form various shapes and designs.  I used the original square but also developed a Shamrock puzzle because this lesson was presented  in  March. I would do the shamrock after the square because it tends to be more difficult.

I have used these puzzles when working with my social groups as a cooperative activity.  It is a good activity to work on problem solving, seeing another person’s perspective, using directive language and cooperating within a group.   Hopefully you have had a chance to work on some of these skills before this activity and this will allow you a chance to observe and encourage their development.

To begin the activity you need a square puzzle printed out on cardstock for each student in the group. They cut the square apart into individual shapes. At its simplest level each student mixes their pieces up into a pile and then puts them back together into a square shape. The difficulty and need for interaction can be increased by having students mix their pieces of the puzzle with other students.   They choose puzzle pieces from the mix  and then try to put their square back together again. This forces students to look at the pieces they have and what other students have.  They then need to negotiate and trade for the pieces they need to make the original square.

There are two free downloads for this activity.  One is the square pattern and the other is a shamrock pattern .  I hope your students learn from and enjoy this activity.

                                                Square Tangram pattern

 Shamrock Tangram pattern

 

Recently I found I have Irish in my DNA so I leave you with this Irish saying.

Life is like a cup of tea,
it’s all in how you make it.

Sustainable Web Hosting by Canvas Host

Sustainable Web Hosting by Canvas Host

 

 

Free Sample; Unexpected and Expected Behavior Task Cards

29 Apr


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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.

sweater sleeve bag

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.

 

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Free Trial: Reply to a Comment Task Cards

31 Jul

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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.

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Reply to a Comment trial set

 

Quick link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

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