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.
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.
You can reach the the full set by clicking the button below.
I decided to update the 3 Sentence Sequence Cards that are in the Expressive Language Section. This activity is for students who are able to make complex sentences from 2 given sentences and are ready for a little more difficult task. It requires the student to hold the meaning and sequence of 3 sentences in their memory and condense it into one complex sentence. This is a prerequisite skill for getting the main idea and useful for taking notes in class. I have used the task cards mainly with 5th and 6th graders so I tried to make pictures less childish. I also added a backside to the cards that provide example sentences. However, One of the sentences is not correct so students will need to decide which one it is and correct it. If your students are motivated by technology you can use the QR codes that are provided to check their answer. You can read a QR code with an app you down load on one of your electronic devices. There is an answer sheet if you are unable to do this. I’ve also thought of using my pen with the invisible ink to highlight the wrong answer. Because I appreciate the feedback I get from my blog readers, I am putting 8 free double-sided cards here so you may try them out.
free 3 sentence sequence cards
If they work well for your students and you would like more, there are an additional 12 pages for a total of 32 double-sided cards at the TPT store. You can click on the button at the top of the page.
I 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.
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.
It is Spring Break for me. I have time to get some creative juices flowing. Just before break, we had our annual book fair. One of the hot items was a “Top Secret UV Pen”. I was lucky enough to get one before they sold out, although teachers were saying it was one of the main items they had to confiscate later after multiple reminders to put it away. Maybe I should have just waited and one would have come my way. Anyway they are pretty inexpensive, in the $3 range. Book fairs are not that different from school to school so maybe you have seen the pens too. I know you are itching to try it out so I am providing the perfect opportunity.
When I saw this item an idea came to mind. I knew my students enjoyed a Super Duper item that had a decoder light. I thought I could make some of my cards more motivating by using it in the same way. It would be perfect for my before and after cards. Many of my students have difficulty with the semantics of when to use before or after. I made a deck of before and after cards with pictures for my non readers quite a few years ago. They were lost in my move last Spring and I dearly missed those cards. Unfortunately they weren’t digital. This pen motivated me to make another set. This time I left a frame where I used the UV pen to write before and after depending on the sentence. The students can light up the answer to see if they are correct. The cards are still very useful even if you don’t have the UV light.
I made a free set of 9 cards on 3 pages for you to try out. If you have the UV light you can add the light the answer feature. I am not sure if the UV will work if they are laminated. I’ll have to see when I get back to work. Anyway try out these free cards and if you want more I’ll have a set of 30 at the TPT store. Click on the button at the top of the page and it will take you directly there.
WordPress before and after free set of 9 trial cards
I have five days left before Spring Break and I realized Easter is coming faster than I thought. It will be done when we come back from Spring Break and I haven’t even pulled out the plastic Easter eggs. The Easter eggs always add a little variety to the speech therapy sessions. In preparation for this, I updated the Descriptive Sentences Activity that is in the Expressive Language section. It now has 20 basic sentences and I added color and visual cues to the spinner. It is free at the TPT store here. I will print out the basic sentences and insert them in the eggs. The students will pull them out and spin the spinner to make more elaborate sentences. If they succeed they will keep the egg. If not, it will get thrown back into the basket. I will give some sort of little prize to the person with the most eggs.