Using Children’s Literature Effectively to Teach Social Skills to Young Children

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Using Children’s Literature Effectively to Teach Social Skills to Young Children
Kenney, Elizabeth
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Academic learning ( jstor )
Books ( jstor )
Childrens literature ( jstor )
Classrooms ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Literary characters ( jstor )
Prosocial behavior ( jstor )
Social skills ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Children's literature
Social skills
Social skills in children--Study and teaching
Social skills--Study and teaching
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


This paper reviews and investigates how children’s literature can be effectively used by teachers to teach social skills to young children, primarily in a classroom setting. Relevant published research on social skills, teaching social skills, selecting and using quality children’s literature, and previous methods wherein children’s literature was used to teach social skills is reviewed. The findings are discussed and synthesized, resulting in a proposed new method for using children’s literature to teach social skills. An example of this new method wherein Rabbit Finds a Way (Delton, 1975) is used to teach the social skill “being kind to one’s friends” is given and its successful implementation with a small group of students in a kindergarten classroom within a professional development school is discussed. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts in Education; Graduated May 7, 2013 magna cum laude. Major: Elementary Education, Emphasis/Concentration: K-6/VE K-12 with ESOL
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Advisor(s): Caitlin Gallingane, Ph.D.
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College/School: College of Education

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Elizabeth Kenney. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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1 Effectively to Teach Social Skills to Young Children Elizabeth Kenney University of Florida


2 Abstract This paper reviews and by teachers to teach social skills to young children primarily in a classroom setting Relevant published research skills is reviewed T he findings are discussed and synthesized resulting in a proposed new method for using An example of this new method wherein Rabbit Finds a Way (Delton, 1975) is used to teach the social skill is given and its successful implementation with a small group of students in a kindergarten classroom within a professional development school is discussed.


3 Literature Effectively to Teach Social Skills Typically, when think ing of what children learn in school, one thinks of academic learning. However, learning social skills is another important aspect of what children should be learning in school. It is tim e consuming to teach social skills. Thus, m any teachers find it daunting to find the time to incorporate social learning into the classroom and choose not to and st t is important that teachers incorporate the school and later life One way of teaching social skills to students is through the integration of combine academic standards with social skills instruction and can feel more confident that, while they are addressing social skills, they are still meeting the required acad emic demands (Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). The Importance of Social Skills A variety of research has emphasized the importance of having sufficient social skills because of their effects on a cademic performance, behavior, and social emotional health. Having social competence has been linked to also having a variety o f other competencies required both in school and afterwards ( Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). W ithout proper social skills, students would not be able to function successfully within school or society as t hey would not know how to properly speak or act in social situations which negatively impacts their ability to form positive relationships with p eers and adults (National Association of School Psychologists, 2002). Social regulate have been shown to affect academic performance (Wentzel, 1991). Students who do have strong


4 social skills seem to have fewer problems within the classroom and outside of it suggesting that strong (January, et al. 2011 ). There are a variety of positive effects related to strong or established social skills including increased ability to respond favorably to stress and resiliency, the ability to express anger properly and to ask for help when feeling aggressive, and having a desire to help keep the school environment safe. Indeed, when students in a school have good social skills, the school environment is safer and more positive ( National Association of School Psychologists, 2002) Students who are socially incompetent tend to have a highe r incidence of mental health disorders and related difficulties (Segrin and Flora, 2000) Students who lack positive social skills tend to elicit negative responses from others face rejection both as children and as adult s, and have a significantly higher presence in the criminal justice system ( National Association of School Psychologists, 2002 ). Developmental Milestones in Social Skills Hundreds of social skills exist. To organize and simplify the list, a social skills in has divided social skills into four categories. The first is survival skills which includes skills that help one function such as listening, following rules, and rewarding oneself. The second is interpersonal s kills which help us form positive relationships with others. The third is problem solving skills which includes the skills of having the ability to ask for help when needed, making decisions, and accepting the results of your actions. The final category is conflict resolution skills which encompasses skills such as coping with the negative words and actions of others and withstanding peer pressure (as cited in National Association of School Psychologists, 2002).


5 While positive social skills are something that most students tend to learn automatically as they grow, it is important for caregivers and tea chers to teach these skills directly model them, and reinforce positive social behaviors especially with the increased demands children A s with all skills, however, there are developmental milestones for social skills and children should only be expected to exhibit those prosocial behaviors that are developmentally appropriate ( National Association of Scho ol Psychologists, 2002). While the lists that follow are by no means comprehensive in general, the se are t ypical developmentally appropriate social abilities for preschool and elementary children Younger preschool children should be able to play near other children interact with other children begin to share and engage in turn taking, and start to cont rol their physical aggression. Older preschool children will start to play cooperatively, start to interact with groups and ask to join them, start to form relationships, consider fairness, follow rules, and will exhibit assertiveness ( Mental Health Foundation of Australia, 2005) At the end of preschool, children start to have a conscience and understand appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors, feeli ng guilty when they exhibit inappropriate behaviors, and they will try out various social roles and act in ways that please adults ( Institute for Human Services for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, 2007). Younger elementary students start to be abl e to exhibit empathy, compliment others, become better conversationalists and listeners, ask adults to be able to speak in front of others with self assurance and can respect opinions that conflict dation of Australia, 2005). Elementary students develop friendships, but they are situation specific. They understand the differences between what is right and wrong and use rules to guide their behavior. They develop a clearer understanding of social


6 role s and see them as unchanging. Finally, they are able to tailor their behavior to specific situations (Institute for Human Services for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, 2007 ). Best Practices for Teaching Social Skills in the Classroom There have b een a mult itude of studies conducted with the goal of see king out which practices for teaching social skills are the most highly effective within the classroom A variety of factors in social skills training have been proven to be important. In 2011, January et al. conducted a meta analysis of 28 peer reviewed journal articles about social skills training within the classroom setting. This meta analysis found that that there were certain factors that tended to make social skills training progr ams more successful. First, they found that social skills instruction was most effective for younger students, such as those in preschool or kindergarten. Perhaps this is because these students are young enough that they are not likely to have developed an y serious misconceptions about social behaviors and/or have not exhibited any serious behavior problems and thus the instruction can more easily lead to appropriate behavior and social competence. The study also found some success with students who are e ntering adolescence, but the effect sizes were not as large as those for younger students; perhaps this is because adolescence is a time of social change with peer relationships fluctuating and is a time wherein students need to adapt their social skills t o continue to t hrive Second, they found that the more exposure that students have to the social intervention, the more positive effects the intervention has. Third, they found that programs in which students are actively engaged in learning the social skills were the most successful. Finally though not many studies reviewed involved any family or community members, researchers noted that this can be an important factor. Accordingly, Henmeter, Otrosky, and Fox (2 006) express that, to help


7 children exhibit social comp etence in all areas of life, social skill s learning should be fostered in schools, at home, and within the community. In 2001, Durlak, Dymnicki, Taylor, Weissberg, and Schellinger conducted a meta analysis of school learning. They examined six different outcomes: social emotional learning skills, attitudes, positive social behavior, conduct problems, emotional d istress, and academic performance. The authors found that social skills training programs that had positive effects on all six outcomes used a variety of interconnected and sequenced activities to meet the skill objectives, involved active learning, includ ed at least one instructional component specifically meant to improve personal/social skills, and targeted a specific social and/or emotional skill. They also found that i nterventions taught by the classroom teacher were the most successful at having an im pact on all six outcomes. A final finding was that prog rams had to be implemented well; that is, in order to be successful, there must not be any major problems related to the design or how it was conducted. Additional factors found to be vitally important to the successf ul instruction of social skills are reported by Forgan and Gonzalez DeHass ( 2004 ) and include incorporating social skills into academic instruction, continually providing skills training, providing for chances to lea rn cooperatively, providing prosocial modeling, and providing multiple opportunities for practice. The National Association of School Psychologists has its own list of recommendations of what social skills training programs should include. They advocate in creasing positive behaviors while decreasing negative ones; using modeling ; guided practice, role playing and positive feedback ; using positive, not punitive, approaches ; providing for opportunities to practice in various settings an d with various groups o f people; using assessments to determine


8 which students need help and the skills with which they need help; and aim to increase the frequency of positive behaviors ( National Association of School Psychologists, 20 02) When designing and implementing the in struction of a specific social skill in the classroom, one should review all relevant literature and the corresponding best practices and then should use as many as is feasible. Using literature to help teach social skills as Womack et al. (2011) points out, is not a novel idea The concept is based upon the strategy of bibliotherapy, which generally involves using literature to help someone solve a problem they are having. Paradek (1994) explains that bibliotherapy involves using books as an intervention to help young people deal with life changes along with emotional difficulties or mental illness Bibliotherapy as an intervention follows a consistent sequence First, the practitioner implementing the bibliotherapy has to identify the needs of the client. He/she should ask questions like, What problem is the client having? or What experience is the c lient having that they are having difficulty coping with? Next the practitioner should select relevant and appropriate books which portray the problem accurately. After an appropriate book has been chosen, it is presented to the client in a way that allows the client to identify with a character (Abdullah, 2002) Th e prior knowledge should be built by having the practitioner introduc e the book, its theme, and the main characters The practitioner should engag e the client in a prereading discussion wherein he/she make s predictions about what will happen and s tart s to compare situations in the book to his/her own li fe Then, during the reading the practitioner should ask questions to help the client summarize the important ideas (Sridhar & Vaughn, 2000). Finally, the practitioner and client should engage in a post reading conversation that allows the client to discuss the problem as it was presented in


9 the book and how the character dealt with it, ultimately allowing the client to learn from that experience This general process of conducting bibliotherapy has been adapted in a variety of ways and has successfully helped clients solve problems, but it tends to be more of a reactive approach (Abdullah, 2002 ). Literature can be used in more proactive ways, such as when it is used to teach and reinforce social skil ls. teaching social skills. Books can be attractive to students for a variety of reasons. Picture storybooks can be especially attractive to young students, since the pict ures can be vivid and enticing and can be a supportive resource in a text for those who are too young to read. Children turn to books for adventure, humor, and entertainment. Reading (and listening to) a book can be both interesting and informative. Therefore, simply using a book as a tool in instruction can immediately increas Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). Books are also a very attractive tool to teachers. literature within their curriculum and instruction. Thus they already have the skills needed t o extensive additional training to do so for teaching social skills (Morris, Taylor, and Wilson, 2000) Since incorporating books involves using the reading and questioning skills a te literature into an instructional method for teaching social skills should be attractive to teachers and it will help make adopting a new method less daunting. skills instruction. As there are a wide variety of books available and they cover a wide array of topics, using books as an instructional tool within social skills instru ction inherently means that there are a multitude of tools available for the instructor. There are a variety of real life situations


10 portrayed in books that can mirror situations that students either have experienced or will experience. The characters in b ooks serve as role models of various social skills and of how to act within social situations With the wide array of characters that can be found in books, along with the various characteristics and backgrounds they have, all students, regardless of their diverse backgrounds or exceptionalities, can find a character they can relate to and that can therefore serve as a role model. Furthermore, a reader is inner thoughts, emotions, and motives surrounding an event or s ituation ( Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). A child can become emotionally involved with the characters in the book and e ven if a child is unable to accurately identify their own emotions or motives, they can relate to a character in a book and further lear n how to understand themselves (Bjerk, 2005). As La mme, Krogh, and Yachmetz explained, readers are able to engage in perspective taking when they read/listen to a story and can start to develop empathy, which will extend not only to characters in books, bu t to people in the real world as well (as cited in Cartledge & Kiarie ). Being empathetic can automatically lead to being more prosocial and compassionate towards others ( Cartledge & Kiarie ). In addition, students can actually respond to these characters. T eachers should ask a variet y of questions while reading the book and should prompt the students to not only recognize what the characters are experiencing, but also to respond to them and even offer the characters advice and share opinions with them (Ohan ian, 1993) As the characters cannot respond to these opinions or advice, offering them is non threatening and students are safe to say whatever they are thinking. For many years, stories and books have been used as a means to teach about a particular topic Folktales, for example, are often created to explain or demonstrate something ( Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). Books are continually being written with an underlying message or moral and/ or


11 to teach a specific concept. Books can supplement almost any typ e of instruction, if only one takes the time to look for relevant resources. While the act of reading (or listening to) a book by itself may not be an effective enough process to teach a concept or skill to a student, incorporating books into instruction c an be extremely useful and can enhance a lesson. A lesson on social skills is no exception and there are a wide va riety of books available for teachers to choose from How to Select Appropriate Books for Social Skills Instruction When choosing a book for use with social skills instruction, there are many factors to consider. One of the greatest factors, especially since these books are being used with younger students, is that the books used should be picture storybooks. Picture st orybooks are different from picture books in that in picture storybooks, both the text and the pictures p lay a part in telling the story (Brame, 2000). When the students have realized that the pictures are just as important as the text and that looking at visually appealing pictures can aid in comprehension students pay better attention. Also, they are able to better visualize the story and the situation presented as they can see a vivid illustration of it. Brame (2000) explains that she found that pictur e storybooks are not only attractive and useful for use with younger stude nts, but they can be preferred by older students as well All students can enjoy and learn from picture storybooks. When choosing storybooks, one first needs to consider the social skill that is being taught and any related behaviors that need to be exemplified in the book. There needs to be a strong match between the social skills objectives for the lesson and what is presented in the story. The story chosen shou ld present the social skills and the prosocial behaviors in a way clear and simplistic enough that the targeted students are easily able to identify them ( Cartledge & Kiarie 2001) The plot should include several examples of the social skill and/or several events that


12 relate to the target skills or behaviors. In many stories there will be some sort of conflict surrounding the social skill and obstacles that have to be overcome in ord er to find a resolution. Some books will even have nonexamples of social skills or prosocial behaviors Nonexamples can be useful tools for instruction as well and can prompt discussion (Womack, et al., 2011). When choosing stories, try to make sure the stories are brief. Stories that are too long may become boring or uninteresting for the students. Also, teachers may not have a lot of time for their social skills instruction, especially if it is not integrated into academic instruction in another area, s uch as reading. By choosing shorter stories, they allow for more time to be spent on discussion and related activities ( Cartledge & Kiarie 2001). The stories should also contain characters and situations/experiences that are relatable to the students (Wom ack et al., 2011). It is important that the students are able to identify with the characters in the story, along with the situations they face, so th at the students are able to apply the social skills to their own selves, the situations they face, and t heir behaviors (Brame, 2000). Generally, the books that are chosen should be books that depict characters or situations that can easily prompt discussion and will be meaningful to the students. Another important consideration is choosing diverse works of literature. It is important that the stories represent a variety of racial and ethnic groups and that they are written by authors who represent a variety of cultural groups. Also, books should portray people who have a variety of exceptionalities and should show main characters representing both genders This need for incorporating diverse literature is significant for two main reasons. First, as our society continues to become more diverse, it is important that students learn about other cultures and other types of people and that they learn to respect and appreciate differences (Cartledge & Kiarie, 2001)


13 cultures gender, and/or their exceptionaliti es need to be directly depicted in at least some of the stories that are used. When looking for books that represent diverse groups, a good place to start is looking for award winning books that have won awards such as the Pura Belpr Award (Latinos/as), t he Coretta Scott King Award (African Americans), and the Schneider Award (individuals with disabilities). It should be noted, however, that these awards were not given with any though t to the social skills/prosocial behaviors represented in the books. Ther e are also many other non award that tell great stories and that also depict a diverse group, especially those written by an author who is a member of that group. If the students themselves are expected to read the stori es, the text needs to be at each commonly used with students who are in preschool or kindergarten, typically the teacher reads the book aloud to the students. Doyle an d Bramwell (2006) have suggested that there are some book characteristics that one should avoid when choosing books for social skills instruction. First, avoid books that solve conflict through revenge, exerting power over someone, or violence. Second, mak e sure that the children do not have to solve difficult problems on their own. Third, make sure that the models in the story are appropriate; books should not contain adult models who are exhibiting inappropriate behaviors. Fo u rth, make sure that books do not reinforce stereotypes, especially books that are depicting diversity. Fi nally make sure that within the story and that children are not being embarrassed or put down by adults. Overall, if all of the above criter ia are considered, one can be sure that the book they have chosen will be well suited for use in social skills instruction. A variety of researchers and practitioners have published lists of books that they find to be appropriate for use with teaching


14 soci al skills. For some of these lists, see Cartledge & Kiare (2001), Womack et al. (2011), Doyle & Br amwell (2006), Webre (1994), Bra m e (2000) and Lamme and McKinley (1992) Other practitioners teach social skills and various prosocial behaviors. One such example is by Cartledge and Kiarie (2001) which was specifically created to help any students with a disa bility and/or a student who has a social deficit Their method starts with choosing and reading a story to the students. Then, they review the concepts of the story with the students, primarily through questioning, to make sure that all students have been able to fully understand what happened in the story. Next, the teacher explains the skill in relation to the events in the story, trying to get the student s to distinguish the prosocial behaviors exhibited. After, the teacher has the students engage in ro le play, reenacting the skill and related behaviors. Then, the teacher encourages the students to use this skill in real life situations. If she sees instances wherein this taught skill can be applied, she recommends it, and if she sees it being applied, s he re wards it. Finally, the teacher further aids in s kill by continually choosing and reading other storybooks that connect to the skill t hroughout the school year. Another model is that by Womack et al. (2011) and is meant to be used when teaching the whole group of students in a classroom though the skill review components shoul d occur in small group settings. This method was specifically designed for use with students who have learning disabilities. In their mo del, the first thing the researchers advise is to identify a skill in which a student or multiple students have a de ficit This is done through observations of the student s in social situations analyzing these behaviors, and prioritizing the social skills/behaviors in order of importance After the skill is chosen, the teacher find s two to four


15 books that deal with the targeted social skill (the number of books chosen depends upon how much instruction the teacher thinks the students need in regards t o the specific skill) One book will be used during each week of instruction for that skill usually up to four weeks but again, depending upon student need Within each week, instruction follows a specific pattern. During the first teaching session, the teacher introduces the story and reads it to the class. During the second teaching session, the skill is taught using explicit instruction. The teacher names the skill, describes it and its importance, and models it using one of the scenes from the book. T hen he/she has the student practice naming the skill and exhibiting the skill. Next, he/she has the student join with a partner and, using another scene from the book, role play the skill. During this time the teacher will provide any assistance needed and provide appropriate feedback. Then, the teacher has the students engage in a discussion about potential situations where they could use this skill appropriately. Yet another model is that by Brame (2000) wherein picture storybooks are used to supplement a n established social skills training program. This method was created specifically to help special needs students and, a s the students are expected to write in journals, is targeted for older elementary or middle school special needs students. The teacher starts the planning process by identify ing before a lesson and can be done simultaneously with the teaching of a social skill as the teacher s c ompetence in regard to the skill before, during, and after instruction. and instructional needs and has decided which skill will be taught for this lesson, he/she carefully chooses a picture storybook tha t relates to the targeted skill a nd the planned lesson After the skill and the book have been chosen and all preparatory work has been completed, the teacher conducts a social skill lesson which is


16 independent from the book Brame (2000) cites and recommends the social skills training method presc ribed by Olsen and Platt wherein a skill is introduced and defined, the steps are outlined and modeled in a variety of situations, and then the skill is generalized. After this method has been followed the teacher then read s the related storybook to the class, stopping at various points to question the students about a variety of topics including the source of a actions. Then, he/ she relates the so cial skills that the students learned previously story book. Finally, the teacher concludes the lesson by having students write in their journals respond ing to the book and how the social skills were exhibited. There are a variety of other examples of published methods and ideas for incorporating method of dial ogic reading with books that have social emotional content in order to help students develop social skills. Dialogic reading is a method of reading aloud that includes using extensive deliberate questioning and dialog between teachers and students while r eading a book together (Doyle & Bramwell 2006 ) Others have discussed blend ing various specific social skills into the problem solving that is done when conducting bibliotherapy with children ( Forgan & Gonzalez DeHass, 2004; Prater, Johnstun, & Dyches, 20 06). In 1994, Cartledge and Kleefeld created a method and corresponding curriculum that involves utilizing folk literature as a means of teaching social skills entitled Folk Literature (as cited in Forgan & Gonzalez DeHass 2004 ). Each of the methods has advantages and disadvantages for use with various populations of students.


17 Taking into consideration all of the above concepts, relevant previous research, and personal experiences in preschool and elementary classrooms, the author of this paper has ills. This method is meant for use in a general education classroom, whether inclusive or not, and is meant for use in preschool or kindergarten. The ten steps to her method are described as follows The first three steps are preparation for the lesson and t he remaining seven are the steps of the instruction. Choose the Small Group of Students The social skill instruction should take place in a small group setting within the classroom. There should be about three to five students in each group. As the method incorporates both social skills instruction and reading/emergent literacy, it could easily be incorporated into center or workstation rotations during a reading block Teaching social skills to a small group has many benefits. Morrow and Smith (199 0) found that children who were read to in small group settings, as opposed to individual and whole group settings, showed better comprehension Students who hear a story in a small group tend to have more opportunities to answer questions and participate in other ways Also, teachers have more opportunit ies to get to know the student s, lea r n about their prior knowledge about the skill, and learn about their past experiences with the targeted skill In the small group setting, students will have more opportunities to work with their group members and various partners within the group. Through these interactions, students are learning social practices such as turn taking, listening skills, and how to talk with peers in academic situations (Doyle & Bramw ell 2006 ) Children learn social skills formally and informally when social skills are being taught in small groups. There are a variety of considerations to make when choosing which members should be


18 in the groups. All students in the class should rece ive relatively the same amount of social skills instruction overall unless a student has an exceptionality that will require them to have extra instruction. Stude nts who are obviously included in this instruction more often could be negatively stigmatized Groups can be chosen based upon a variety of factors including but not limited to ability level (whether the ability levels of all members in the group are the same or are mixed), personality, language skills, and social relationships. Groups can and should be changed from lesson to lesson and thus can be based upon different factors at different times. Most lessons should be applicable to all of the students in the class and thus every group can receive the sam e lesson until e very student has learned the targeted skill Identify the Target Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior Once the target audience has been chosen, whether it is the whole class broken up into small groups or it is only one specific small g roup with specific students, the teacher can choose the target social skill and/or prosocial behavior. When choosing the skill, the developmental readiness and skill appropriateness should be considered. relevant prior knowledge and exp erience, along with their current skill level, should be considered. Select Picture Storybook When choosing a picture storybook, consider all of the factors listed in the above section entitled How to Select Appropriate Books for Social Skills Instruction Generally, make sure the events and characters strongly match the targeted skills and behaviors, select a book wherein the pictures add to the story, consider diversity, ensure that it is not too long, and think about the book level and the ty pes of language and vocabulary words used within the book. Introduce the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior


19 When starting the lesson, introduce the skill and/or behaviors to the students. Name them, briefly describe them, and, if needed, provide a st udent friendly definition. This is a good time for the teacher to ask students about their previous experiences with and prior knowledge about the social skill and the related behaviors. Especially a s there are a small number of students in the group, each student should have an opportunity to share. T hen explain that the storybook to which they will be listening will address this skill and/or behavior. Read the Picture Storybook Before the book is read, the teacher should briefly i ntroduce the book This shou ld include reading the title, discussing the picture on the front cover and giving a short description Then, the teacher should read the book fluently matching the tone of the content to the tone of his/her voice, using a slow reading rate, and reading with inflection. The teacher should stop to elicit r esponses from the students so they are actively engaged in the reading. The teacher should engage in strategic questioning. He/she should ask questions about the important actions, the social skills exhibited, and the prosocial behaviors demonstrated. The teacher can ask about anything they deem as important to the story and the portrayal of the social skill and behaviors. He/she can also choose to have the students use various reading skills and strategies to further link the social skills to literacy skills. For example, the teacher could have the students use the reading comprehension strategy of inferring He/she could have the student s make inferences ab out the main and have them give evidence to support their inferences by providing the relevant events or actions or any other


20 clues which led the students to choose those feelings After the book has bee n read, the teacher should quickly summarize the book and elicit feedback on what the students thought about the book. Discuss the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior as it is Depicted in the Storybook Next, the teacher should engage the students in a discussion about the social skill and/or the prosocial behaviors. He/she should directly relate this to the relevant events in the book and should discuss in more depth. The discussion should address how th e social skill was used in the given situations and why. Model the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior in a New Situation and Setting After this discussion, the teacher should tell or read about a new situation in which the skill and/or behavior are a pplicable. He/she should first discuss the setting a nd the situation and then whether through role play individually role play with another adult or through another appropriate me thod (i.e. a puppet show ) should model the positive social skill and/or p rosocial behavior in this new setting and within this new situation. T he situation should be one that the students c ould relate to. This should be a relatively quick modeling process so that the students do not lose interest. Have the Students Practice t he Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior with Guidance Next, the teacher should read a new situation, which should be in yet another setting, to the students. The students should then have an opportunity, whether through partnered discussion, small group discussion, or even role play to discuss the situation and the appropriate use of social skills and/or prosocial behaviors. The teacher should listen to students and provide any guidance or assistance that is necessary. He/she can ask the students questi ons as they go to help clarify their conceptions, point out specific aspects of the situation or to guide students


21 thinking in some way. The teacher should continually provide positive and constructive feedback. Have the Students Practice the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior Independently Next, the students should hear one more situation, in one additional setting, and should be expected to determine the appropriate use of prosocial behaviors or application of social skills on their own. Again, this knowledge can be demonstrated verbally through a discussion or through a role play situation. The teacher should avoid providing assistance unless it is desperately needed and should use this opportunity to asses s The teacher shou ld again give the students positive and constructive feedback. Review the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior and Discuss Generalization The lesson starts to come to an end. The teacher should briefly re review the skill/behavior. He/she can retell how it was depicted in the story to remind the students. He/she can also quickly remind the students of the other examples that were given. Then, the teacher can ask the students whether they can think of any oth er situations that they have encountered whe re the skill/behavior could be relevant or whether they can think o f any situation that may come up where they would also be relevant. When each situation is given, the teacher should emphasize the appropriate skill use and the appropriate behaviors. This will conclude the lesson. The New Method in Practice : An Example I, the author Elizabeth Kenney, was able to implement the above proposed method for a kindergarten classroom within a Professional Development School near Gainesville, Florida in which at the time, I served as a preintern. Choose the Small Group of Students


22 As I was going to pull the students I worked with from their literacy workstati ons, I chose students who would be in the two most peripheral workstations for this social skills instruction so that they would not be missing out on any core reading activities to learn about social skills. As this method involves integrating literature into the social skills instruction, the social skills lesson fit well into a literacy workstation. Identify the Target Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior Once I knew which students I would be working with, I tried to think of what skill I thought they would most benefit from. After much consideration and some consultation with the student primary teacher, I decided to teach about being kind to your friends. This is a social skill that the students should have experience with, which makes this lesson somewhat of a review. However, I feel that these students have not mastered the skill of being kind to their friends and could benefit fr om some direct instruction Select Picture Storybook When choosing a storybook, I consulted the literature and found that Webre (1994) recommended the book Rabbit Finds a Way which was written by Judy Delton (1975) and has pictures by Joe Lasker for teaching about kindness. I obtained a copy of the book and made sure that it matched the above criteria for choosing a quality book. I really like the illustrations in the book Rabbit Finds a Way and think that they do enhance the text and increase comprehension. There are multiple examples of the characters bei ng kind to one another through various prosocial behaviors such as saying nice things and doing favors for one another. Thus, it was a good match for the chosen skill. It did not contain any nonexamples of the sk ill. The story was not too long; it had 27 p ages and there was not very much text on each page. The situations in the book are very simple and thus the students l ikely


23 can relate to them While the characters in the books are animals, there are a variety of types of animals in the book and they are all friends who are kind to one another, despite being different animals. Thus, this book does represent diversity I read the book to the students as they are kindergartners with very basic reading abilities, making the reading level irrelevant. The writi ng style and word choice is suitable for young children to easily understand and the content is appropriate for kindergarteners. I applied the same evaluation system to a variety of other books that the literature recommended, and ultimately thought Rabbit Finds a Way was the best, high quality book I could choose for my group of students and chosen social skill. Introduce the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior To start the lesson, I told the students that we would be talking about being kind to your something similar to the idea that being kind to your friends meant doing something nice for them, like doing a favor for them or helping them, and general ly being nice to them. I explained that you can be kind in lots of different ways. Read the Picture Storybook After introducing the topic, I told the students that we would be reading a book that showed a character who was often kind to his friends. I br iefly introduced the book, showing the students the front cover, and explaining that it is about a rabbit named Rabbit who is going to his then read the book fluently, monitoring my tone and keeping my rate slow, to the students. Along the way I stopped and asked a variety of questions. Below are the questions I asked, linked to the page numbers.


24 Questions to ask on pages 3 4. Why did Duck invite Rabbit to come in and eat a cherry tart that he baked? What do you notice about their faces in the pictures? How do they feel? Questions to ask on pages 7 8. What decision do you think he will make? Why? Question t o ask on page 9. Questions to ask on page 10. How do they look now? How would you feel if you were Squirrel? Rabbit? Question to ask on page 11: Why did Squirrel invite Rabbit in for lettuce salad with turnip greens? Questions to ask on page 16. How do you think Rabbit is feeling right now? Why do you think that? Questions to ask on page 18. How was bear treating Rabbit? Rabbit is obviously upset that he is not going to be able to get his carrot cake. Did he become mean to Bear? Why not? Question to ask on page 19. Why did Squirrel say he was sorry? Was that a nice thing to say?


25 Questions to ask on page 21. What did you t hink about this conversation? How do you think the characters are feeling? Are they mad at each other? Why do you think that? Questions to ask at the end of the book: Did Bear give him the recipe? Why? Was that a kind thing to do? Discuss the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior as it is Depicted in the Storybook menti oned examples of kindness we read about in the book. Students were able to come up with their own examples they remembered hearing examples which they may not have thought about. I then asked the question Why was it about kindness and why it is important to be kind. I called upon each student and gave some prompting so the students could see why it is important to be kind to your friends. We discussed how your friends deserve kindness and how sometimes, when we are not kind to our friends, they are not kind to us and this upsets everyone involved. Finally, to help the students see that kindness causes positive f eelings and happiness, I asked sion through asking questions, they students could see that all of them could and should participate. Model the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavio r in a New Situation and Setting


26 ousin was making a pie for our T hanksgiving meal. He had a recipe but he did not have all of the s license and the store is far away. What could I do answered my own question while talking out loud in order to model my thinking. I said something like I really want to be kind to him and help him out. Let me think. Well, I have my license, so maybe I could offer to go to the stor e with him! Yes, I think I should do this I can have him help me make a list and can go to the store and buy his needed ingredients. He can even come with me if he wants! with the ingredients, I left him in the kitchen. Ten minutes later I see that there is black smoke coming from one of the pots on the stove. H e is obviously having trouble and has burnt part of the pie. I have made this pie before and did not have any trouble. What can I do to be kind and would help him out ? really wanted to make the pies himself, it would not be kind of me to say that I would take over and h e should stop. However, maybe I could ask him if I can work together with him and help him make the pie. Then, I can be kind and share my knowledge about how to make the pie and he can still say he made it Have the Students Practice the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior with Guidance Next, I introduced a scenario and asked the students questions to he lp guide them to figuring out how to be kind in the given situations. I said classmate is in EDEP after school working on homework and is having trouble. You had no problem getting your you ignore them and go play on the playground? No? Could you go over to them? What would


27 him/her complete his/her homework. Then, I introd uced a second scenario. The scenario was: keep playing or should you stop and comfort them? Why? When the teacher sends them to the should go over and comfort their friend because he/she is likely upset. They can also be kind by going and getting the teacher to come help Then, they can escort the student to the clinic to get help from the nurse. Have the Students Practice the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior Independently Finally, I introduced the next scenario which c ontains a problem for them to solve pair share approach. I had the students stop and think about the problem. Next, I had the students turn to a partner and share their response with them. Finally, I had one student from each group tell what they talked about. I wanted them to say they would go over and talk to the lonely student. I then asked about one more scenario to give them further independent practice. I said notice that one of your friends did not get a piece of cake. What is something kind you can do to nk pair share. There were a couple of possible kind things they could have done in this situation. They could give them their (uneaten) piece of cake and get a new one. They could directly get a new piece of cake and bring it to their friend. Or, they coul d be kind indirec tly by telling an adult that he/she does not have a piece of cake.


28 Review the Social Skill and/or Prosocial Behavior and Discuss Generalization Finally, to review the skill, I prompted discussion by asking of time s that you have be students share with the group some examples. I then continued to review the skill and promote generalization by asking about many times and situations where you can be kind to your friends. Can yo u think of some other times that you could be kind to someone that we did not talk about to give examples and we discussed why these would be good times to be kind to someone. I ended the discussion by asking ly be kind to your friends? Who else should you while this lesson was about being kind to your friends, in reality we should be kind to everyone. The New Method in Practice: Discussion of the Example After implementing I can substantiate that I believe this proposed method works very well. The students were engaged in the lesson throughout and when I asked the students how they liked the lesson aft er it was over, all students answered positively. The social skill friends was not a brand new concept for the chosen group of students. However, it is one that, from experience, I think the students need to review and practice. I have seen these students saying unkind things to their friends and fighting with them. This shows that this method can be used both for review of a social skill and to teach a skill for the first time. The book I chose was clearly a good book for the s ocial skill as I was able to ask many questions related to the social skill. Also, it seems to have been a good b ook for the group of students. T hey were very attentive and engaged during the reading and answered all of my


29 questions about the book In fact the questions used throughout the lesson seemed to be well written and well suited for both the students and the social skill. I learned, through my implementation that it is usually easier to write good questions when you know the students you will be w orking with well and when you have a firm understanding of the social skill. During this implementation, s tudents at least attempted to answer all of my questions. S ome of the responses were unexpected F or example, when asked what they could do to help the student who did not have cake, with the goal being to go get him/her a piece, the students remarked that they could go home and bake him/her their own cake However, over all responses were valid and showed that the students were engaged and were thinki ng critically about the answers of all of the questions. questions were needed as the lesson progressed, which shows that the students were becoming more confident in their knowledge about the social skill and they demonstrated this increased confidence by answering more quickly and with less help. One thing I noticed that I did not expect was that the students often brought up non examples of the social skill. For example, when I ask ed for examples of times when they were kind to a friend, they started to give me examples of when they had a friend be unkind to them. We then discussed what their friend could have done that would have been kind instead. Because of this, I would recommen d that the teacher address some non examples of the social skill in th eir teaching a s well as examples This can easily be done through questioning during the review section, or even earlier. For example, if the book contains non examples, the instructor c ould talk about it then. This inclusion of non examples is the only addition I think should be made after having implemented the lesson.


30 Overall, this new method worked very well for my students and for the chosen social skill. Especially after implemen ting it with a group of diverse learners (the students have different learning styles and one student is an English Language Learner) within a general education classroom I feel confident that it would work in any classroom and with any students, though a ccommodations may need to be made depending upon any special needs the students have. I w ill definitely continue to use this new proposed method in the future


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