Small Group Social Skills Instruction
Small group social skills instruction provides another layer of intervention for addressing skill deficits. Often small numbers of students are at risk for or have difficulties mastering the same skill and can be grouped together for efficiency and provided additional instruction. We recommend several resources for structuring small group social skills instruction. Topping our list is Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems by Jed Baker.8 Baker includes not only teacher-friendly lessons and activities but also helpful advice for structuring the sessions, managing behavior during them, individual student assessment for determining what social skills to work on and what instructional strategies are most effective, and many reproducible forms.
Choosing Curricula: A Case Study
Some of my colleagues and I (Kaye) went through a process of rating social skills curricula for the purpose of choosing the most cost-effective program to purchase for use in a public school district that others may find helpful when making similar decisions. We chose six curricula to review: (1) Connecting with Others, (2) Getting to Know You, (3) Second Step: Violence Prevention, (4) Skillstreaming, (5) PATHS, and (6) Super Skills. Five of them were chosen because they had been previously reviewed by the Heartland Area Education Agency 11 in Johnston, Iowa (www.aea11.k12.ia.us) to determine if they were supported by research and given either a gold, silver, or "promising" rating. The sixth curriculum was chosen because it was specifically designed for students on the autism spectrum. Most publishing companies send educators a copy of their curricula to preview for four to six weeks at no cost.
We created a rubric (Table 4.2) for the purpose of rating each curriculum, and five experienced behavior and autism specialists completed the rubric in six areas: (1) preassessment, (2) direct instruction activities, (3) guided practice activities, (4) video examples, (5) generalization activities, and (6) supporting children/youth literature. Results of their rating are shown in Table 4.3, and general information, including price and where to order each curriculum, is shown in Table 4.4. Other resources and curricula that we have found helpful for small group social skills instruction (and many would also be helpful for individual replacement training that we will focus on in the next chapter) are listed in Table 4.5.
Children's literature provides an effective avenue to opening up discussions about various social situations and captures student interest. Over the years, we have developed a large collection of children's literature on various social skills topics, which is provided in Table 4.6 at the end of this chapter.
Key Points to Remember
- Schoolwide and classwide social skills instruction provides the foundation for addressing basic skill deficits. It is imperative that behavioral expectations be directly taught.
- Social skills instruction can be embedded into the school day in several ways through class meetings, mini-lessons, and planned feedback.
- Frequent positive feedback provides social skills instruction by frequently letting students know exactly what behaviors are expected.
- Shoot for a ratio of at least four positives to every negative or redirection to encourage a positive, encouraging learning environment.
- Any feedback given should be specific to the behavior being performed to be meaningful and effective.
- Classroom rules should (1) be limited to three to five general expectations that cover all common behavior problems, (2) involve students in the making of them whenever possible as this promotes student buy-in, (3) be stated positively in terms of what the students should do instead of what they should not do, and (4) be posted in multiple places where they can easily be referred to.
- Teachers need to provide direct instruction, reinforcement, and precorrections for common classroom and schoolwide routines.
- Students with similar behavioral skill deficits can be grouped together for small group social skills instruction.
- Children's literature can be a valuable resource to illustrate prosocial behaviors in social skills lessons.
Discussion Questions and Activities
- Holding regular class meetings is one way to embed social skills instruction into the school day. Give examples of issues that could be discussed in a class meeting. How could class meetings be used to resolve conflicts?
- In this chapter, some guidelines for setting up school or class rules were outlined. What are your classroom rules? Do they meet the criteria outlined in this chapter? What do you like about your rules? How could you improve them?
- Many examples of classroom routines that need to be taught were given. Identify some routines specific to your classroom or school that need to be directly taught but were not included as examples.
- Think of a children's literature book that is familiar to you. Are positive behaviors modeled in that book? How could you use the book in a social skills lesson on those behaviors?
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Problems With Standardized Testing