Work hard; play hard!

Work hard; play hard!
Consulting in Maui!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Eye Contact

So this may be a bit much, but it DID get my students' attention! They all got to take pictures with my big eyes today too. I picked them up at Michael's for $1.00. I do love a good bargain. I also love to hear the laughter of my students when I walk into a classroom and announce that we are working on eye contact with these big googly eyes on. Afterall, it is Halloween week! 
Laugh and have fun with your students; I promise you that the lessons will stick for a longer time. 
The kids each made their own stick with googly eyes on them. Then they hold these sticks to indicate where the eyes of the person that they are talking with are looking. This helps increase awareness of both the speaker and the listener as to where their eye contact is. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feedback form for social skills- mainstream reporting back

Since the students in social skills set their goals in September, it is time to check in with their mainstream teachers for feedback. Here is the form we use for them to go around and ask how they have been doing on their goal. This also helps increase the awareness within their mainstream classes. Earlier, the students had to email their mainstream teachers what their chosen goal was and what the looked like and didn't look like. This sheet is earlier in the blog. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Frog and the log- prepositions and following directions

I am always looking for fun ways to teach prepositions and following directions. Here is a frog and log set. As you see, I laminated them so you can place the frogs behind the log and inside of the log. I just used my handy dandy exacto knife and cut a slit on the inside of the log so they could slip the frogs into the log. I give each student their own set of frogs and logs so they can both give and receive directions. We sometimes put up a barrier so that they don't have the visual cues and see if their partner's frogs and logs look the same. You could also use this on your wall and label the prepositions so that your students have a visual reminders of prepositions. As you see, I also made big and little frogs so they can add those concepts to their directions. Enjoy!

Frog on the log graphics you can use.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Wish I knew where I got this from a couple of weeks ago because it works like a charm! Thanks for sharing! Wish I could give you credit. 

Figured it out! Here is where the idea came from:

Pet Rocks in Speech??

Yes, my articulation students (r group and s group) made "Our Rocks" and "Silly Stones" in our speech groups. Keep in mind that I work with middle school students! Some days they just crack me up. A couple of years ago I had an 8th grader who loved to write about her pet rock on my white board whenever she would come into the room and I wasn't there. Well, she came back to visit me this year and left the notorious "My Pet Rock Died" picture on my board. So my students asked me about the story and I told them about my Lexi and her Pet Rock. I also told her that Lexi worked on R's so I was fine that she always talked about her pet rock. It gave her plenty of times to practice her sounds. Well that gave me the idea to actually make "Our Rocks" in the R group. As you can imagine, the S Group did not want to be left behind so they made Silly Stones. 
You have to make articulation groups fun no matter what age, but in middle school you REALLY have to get creative sometimes and silly! You try saying "Our Rocks"; it takes a lot of concentration even when you DON'T struggle with the R sound! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Follow Up Statements and Questions

We are always working on increasing our use of follow up questions and follow up statements to increase conversational skills and decrease the ego-centric nature that we operate out of so frequently at the middle school level. 
I created this document for our poster in our class so we have it displayed large and prominently in our social skills classroom! The students also have created their own posters for this unit and keep them in their binders to remind us during our Weekend Wrap Up sessions that it is their job not only to share but to also engage by asking follow up questions and making follow up statements. Today they will get chips to throw in the middle for each time they make one. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Social Skills and Goal Setting

We had the students assess themselves using the Skillstreaming Checklists (you can just google it and find the checklists for students, parents and teachers). During our first month we have the students go through their own checklist. We do it question by question in class so that the students take their time filling it out and the data more accurately reflects where they are functioning in terms of social skills. Then we have them bring the parent checklist home to have one or both of their parents fill it out on them. After that we graph both results, talk about the differences, others' perspectives and the importance of know what others think about in terms of your social skills. From there we highlight any item that there is a difference of at least two points (meaning....there is a number between one rater's scores versus the other rater's scores).
Next, we develop our personalized goal areas. We take a few things into consideration; scores in the 1-2 ratings are always areas of need, scores that have a discrepancy between raters need to also be carefully considered because there is possibly a lack of awareness in this area, and finally what we as social skills teachers think are blocking them the most in the school setting.
After we have these areas talked about, we ask the students to pick their top three areas that they need to work on based on the previously listed criteria in the above paragraph. We make them go over every one of these steps out loud in class because all of them need to begin to get better at "owning" their difficulties.
Now that they have (with our guidance) picked their top three, my co-teacher and I tell them we get to pick the one that they will start working on. It is here that we explain the difference between a democratic process versus a dictatorship ;-). We find that the majority of our social skills class has a difficult time taking feedback and directives without questioning or challenging it. It is good practice for them to experience a little bit of dictatorship within the classroom.
Now we are ready to get into the "get down and grungy" work of goal setting. This is the sheet we use to understand what their objective looks like and doesn't look like. We always start with what it DOESN'T look like. The students usually have no problems with that side. Then we move to what it does look like. We go through each student's form one-by-one so that they learn through other people.
Last, we have them email their teachers, dean and parents with this sheet to tell them that this is their current social skills goal that they are working on. They then ask them to hold them accountable. This gives people permission to call them on their choices or praise them for their choices. As you can imagine, some of our students don't like this "public" accountability. We, as social skills teachers, though LOVE it! You will see much better carryover and awareness of their skills by doing this.

Common Ground- Topics and Social Skills

We used this tool this week in our social skills class to try and reduce some of the ego-centric nature of our conversations with one another in the group. We paired the students up and gave the pair a copy of this sheet. They had to talk for ten minutes and come up with at least five topics that they were only interested in, five topics that the other person was only interested in and a minimum of five topics that they both were interested in. Then we talked about the importance of not having conversations only one-sided. The kids had some difficulty at first so we asked them to think about the question, "Would you like to talk about this subject for more than five minutes?" If so, then you could put that as one of "your" topics or "our" topics.

Click here for access to the worksheet.