October is full of many things, Breast Cancer Awareness, Fire Prevention, Book Awareness, Down Syndrome, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Spina Bifida Awareness, just to name a few. At our school, we take time to recognize Red Ribbon Week (Drug Awareness) and Bully Prevention Month. Oh and of course don’t forget that it is also our annual trip to the Pumpkin Patch AND Halloween.
October is BUSY!!! VERY BUSY!!!
I just wanted to take a moment to talk about Bully Prevention. Our school is filled with students who use American Sign Language to communicate. Many students arrive at our school having had little or no access to language. The reasons for this are MANY but I don’t want to get into that right now. However, it has a HUGE social impact on our students. Last year our team noticed that students were largely communicating using negative language with each other. They were bullying each other, acting out, name-calling and otherwise, just not being good friends. The realization was that our students did not have a clear understanding of social expectations, nor did they have the language to communicate positively with one another.
In speaking with many teachers in other environments, I have come to realize that this is not isolated to the students in my school, but that MANY students (with and without disabilities) are lacking skills and vocabulary to interact in a positive way.
I began last year by teaching social skills based on the Bucket Filling books by Carol McCloud. If you have not experienced this books in your classroom, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting a hold of them and reading them with your students.
There are several other books that I’m sure are excellent as well, but, these are the ones that we have read so far.
However, I realized we needed to go a step further and teach specific “scripted” language, to assist students with “kind” words. So I got the students together and we brainstormed NICE things we could say to each other and this is what we came up with.
THIS WORKED SO WELL! But we needed more, so I got back to work.
This year, I created a poster system that included both NICE, and NOT NICE things that we could say. I introduced the posters two at a time and read the comment cards with the students. Students decided if the comments matched the “Nice” poster or the “Not Nice” Poster. When we finished all the posters (this took a few days) I posted them on the bulletin board in the hall near where the students line up everyday so we can review on a frequent or as needed basis.
I used the coloring pages (since several of the students are pre-writers) as contracts.
This is a contract saying that they are willing to try their best to be a good friend.
To reinforce the language, skills and determining positive and negative language, I created this game using the same language and pictures as the large posters but in game sized cards.