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Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings

I really like the Social Thinking® curriculum for preschool and early elementary.  The Incredible Flexible You is just the best! Mrs. Lindstrom’s kindergarten class is doing quite well with it.   This was our second week on Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings.

I started the session with a mini-lesson on Whole Body Listening-

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Presenting the concept visually and making it interactive is the most effective way for my students.

Next, we listened to 2 awesome songs from the music CD.

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Where You Think a Thought and Show Me What You are Feeling are such engaging songs.  We couldn’t help ourselves but to get up and dance and sing!

I use music in my whole class sessions for many reasons.  I am going to share Dr. Jean Feldman’s Reasons to Sing Every Day! Go to her website:  www.drjean.org for more information.  

  • When you sing your brain emits endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!  Emotions are critical to learning.
  • Music is multi-sensory.  The more senses you get going to the brain, the more likely the message will get there.
  • Music is powerful for prior-learning.  If children are exposed to concepts while singing, it is easier for them to learn when formally introduced.
  • Music nurtures phonemic awareness (alliteration, rhyme, etc.).
  • Songs and chants are a natural way to develop oral language and auditory memory.
  • Poems and songs lay a foundation for fluency and enhance short term memory.
  • Children are able to use their imaginations and create pictures in their brains when they sing.  This is an important part of reading comprehension.
  • Repetition is a key to learning.  It is much more fun to repeat songs than a worksheet!
  • Singing and dancing relieve stress and oxygenate the brain.
  • Through music and movement ALL children can feel successful.  A “community of learners” is enhanced when teachers and children enjoy something together.

I love Dr. Jean!

Then we read the book Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings which is part of the Incredible Flexible You curriculum.  Thoughts are in your brain and feelings in your heart.  The characters in the book show the students how we have thoughts when we are alone and thoughts when we are around others.  Our behavior affects the way others think and feel about us.

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Then I got to use my new favorite visual-  the thought bubble.

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I tell the students that I think about so many things all the time.  I show them that I am thinking of something blue.  I ask the students to think with their eyes to look around them and try to guess what I am thinking of.

The outcome from last week’s session:  It is expected behavior to say “Hi” when someone says “Hi” to you.  I have never before been greeted so sweetly.  Mrs. Lindstrom’s kindergarteners have been saying “Hi” all week.  I have had good thoughts and good feelings about those friendly students.

Happy Friday Everyone!

My Best,

Robin

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Weaving Social Thinking® vocabulary throughout our lessons and beyond the therapy room.

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The teachers who work with my students have shown interest in doing whatever they can to integrate the concepts of Social Thinking® into the classroom and throughout the school day.  I am very excited about that because I believe that consistency is the key to progress.

I am sharing the social thinking vocabulary with the teachers and support staff.   I even use the vocabulary in social conversations around school.  Go to http://www.socialthinking.com for more information about social thinking vocabulary.

In today’s Book Chat, we started with a review of the expected behaviors-

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We read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

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The social thinking concept for today was Thinking About You/Just Me.   This means that we work hard to recognize that our behavior  affects the people around us, and we try to change how we act in such a way as to keep others thinking about us the way we want them to.  In the book the mouse is very demanding.  He seems to be unaware of the effect his behavior has on the boy’s emotional state.  As the students read along and listened to the story, I used words such as feelings, intentions, unexpected, weird thought, and wondering, just to model my own thinking process.

The students are more comfortable making comments than asking questions.  I wrote down some questions as examples for the students to practice.

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Braxton asked “What zone is the boy in?”.   We determined that he was in the blue zone.  He was very tired from trying to please that demanding mouse.  Was it the mouse’s intent to make a mess or to help?

Book Chat is a great platform for building social thinking skills that support reading comprehension.

I am taking social thinking to Mrs. Lindstrom’s Kindergarten Class with

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The Incredible Flexible You is another social thinking publication.  Go to http://www.socialthinking.com for more information.

I will be adapting the lessons to work with this particular group of K students.  The first lesson will include expected/unexpected behaviors.  When we see a friend or teacher in the hall, auditorium, or community and they say “Hi”, it is the expected behavior to say “Hello” or “Hi” back to them.

We will also talk about being flexible when something unexpected happens.  Is there any cat more flexible than Pete?

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When Pete steps in strawberries, blueberries, and mud while wearing his white shoes he does not whine or cry.  He just keeps walking along and singing his song.

Oh, the possibilities!

My Best,

Robin

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Building Social Competencies

 

The We Thinkers! group at the JCC Preschool had their final session of the school year yesterday. As we reflected on our time together we talked about how our thinking had changed. The children expressed their thoughts on “a group plan” and a “shared imagination”. I was excited to hear them talk in terms of concepts, such as “expected vs unexpected” and “flexible thinking”. We are proud that this group is heading to kindergarten with new social competencies.

For more information about the We Thinkers! curriculum go to:
www.socialthinking.com

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We Thinkers! Social Problem Solvers Curriculum

I have been having so much fun at the JCC Preschool working with some sweet five year olds. The We Thinkers! Social Problem Solvers Curriculum is providing a wonderful framework to extend social learning.  In the fall, we started with the Incredible Flexible You covering Social Thinking® concepts such as whole body listening, the group plan, and thinking with your eyes.  Now we are working on even more complex concepts like hidden rules and making smart guesses.  The teachers in the classroom have given me positive feedback about how easy it is for them to use the social thinking vocabulary throughout the day.

 

 

Understanding social thinking concepts supports our ability to demonstrate social skills.

 

 

 

 

I learn so much from the Social Thinking® conferences.   In addition to learning how to use the tools, I get great ideas for books and games that enhance the teaching of each concept.  I leave the books and games behind at the preschool so that teachers can follow through during the week until I return.

 


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Next week we will learn about flexible thinking and stuck thinking.  When we are flexible thinkers we can keep moving forward.  Flexible thinking means trying it another way or changing your plan to stay in step with what someone else needs you to do.

 

I’ll be using this youtube video created by http://Prekautism.com

 

 

 

And I will be using  my flexible thinking script that I created using Custom Boards a Smarty Ears app.

 

In the words of Pete the Cat, “It’s all good”.

Best,

Robin

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It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

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Everyone makes mistakes.  That’s how we learn.  Some of us have to learn that it is okay to make mistakes.  The Flexible First Graders are awesome!  Throughout the school year they have added so many great strategies and coping skills to their self-regulation toolbox.  Dealing with mistakes the right way is a very important addition to the toolbox.

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A social script/story is a must have in the classroom.  When someone makes a mistake it is important to know what they “can” do as well as what “not” to do.  The above social story is available at: http://teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kid-Codes.  One of my go-to resources!

These Unthinkables invade our brains and challenge our flexible thinking.
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Perfect Pete- makes people think that everything they do should be perfect.  He gets them to think that nothing they do is ever good enough.  Perfect Pete may even get them to yell at themselves or others when they make a mistake.

Perfect Patty- makes people feel like they always have to be perfect…at EVERYTHING.  They have to be perfect at school, homework, writing, EVERYTHING!  Perfect Patty makes it hard for people to make mistakes, move on with their work, and stay social because they’re so focused on being perfect.

Can’t Be Wrong Rita-  gets people to worry about being wrong and gets them really upset if they make a mistake.

While reading The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, we used our Unthinkable sticks to show how these three lurk around Beatrice and make it hard for her to make mistakes.  In the story, Beatrice learns to defeat her Unthinkables and what a relief it is!

Find out more about these Unthinkables in the book Social Town Citizens Discover 82 New Unthinkables for Superflex to Outsmart! by Stephanie Madrigal, Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.

Flexible First Graders is one of my favorite groups!

Robin

 

 

 

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We Are Lovin’ This App!

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Executive functions are basically a set of mental processes that help us organize our experiences, information and actions.  When a child has an executive function issue, any task that requires planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking becomes a challenge.  The following information is from http://smartappsforspecialneeds.com.

In school, at home or in the workplace, we’re called on all day, every day, to self-regulate behavior. Executive function allows us to:
– Make plans
– Keep track of time and finish work on time
– Keep track of more than one thing at once
– Meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions
– Evaluate ideas and reflect on our work
– Change our minds and make mid-course corrections while thinking, reading and writing
– Ask for help or seek more information when we need it
– Engage in group dynamics
– Wait to speak until we’re called on

A student may have problems with executive function when he or she has trouble:
– Planning projects
– Comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
– Telling stories (verbally or in writing), struggling to communicate details in an organized, sequential manner
– Memorizing and retrieving information from memory
– Initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently
– Retaining information while doing something with it, for example, remembering a phone number while dialing

 

For my students working to improve executive function skills, this app is the bomb!  A playful take on the classic Towers of Hanoi puzzle, players move a stack of animals from a tree stump on the left to one the right by moving one animal at a time. Only smaller animals can stand on the backs of larger ones!  To be successful, players must carefully plan and execute moves as the clock ticks.  They don’t even realize that they are planning and organizing!

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Happy Thursday!

Robin

 

 

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Negotiating

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Conflict is a normal part of children’s everyday lives.  Some of the typical ways that children respond to conflict include arguing, tattling, physical aggression or backing off and avoiding each other.  If we do not negotiate with children then they will not learn this important skill.  The ways in which adults respond to children’s conflicts effects their behavior and development in powerful ways. Modeling how to negotiate is necessary to teach children and young adults how to do it the right way. Coaching children through conflict resolution and social problem solving helps them to feel a part of the process.  It shows them that it can work so that they can start to build their own skills.  If we help children to see conflict as a shared problem to be solved, then we can support them in guided practice.

What are the skills required for effective negotiation and conflict resolution?

  • Be a good listener.  Listen to what the other person wants and needs.  Consider their perspective on the matter.
  • Be flexible.  Flexible thinking is necessary to achieve a win – win.
  • Manage strong emotions.  Anger and anxiety can get in the way of negotiation.  Calm down first before problem solving.
  • Identify the size of the problem and match an appropriate reaction.
  • Compromise.

 

Children learn the meaning of the word conflict in this video

 

This video is a great conversation starter on the need for flexibility when negotiating.   The story is from the book

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I am looking forward to Candy’s (our Elf on a Shelf) return from the North Pole.

My Best,

Robin

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New Super Fun Games!

We love games.  When we play games we practice the skills we have learned.  If you have not played these 2 games with your students, give them a try.

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Tapple requires self-control and fast thinking.  When we play, I hear self-talk (“I need to keep that word in my head for my next turn, not give it away”). The Lunch Buddies are tempted to “blurt” and they give in to that impulse sometimes but the more we play the more opportunities we have to practice controlling that impulse.  We also practice voice modulation while playing Tapple.  It is easy to get out of control as the letters are eliminated and the excitement builds.

 

 

So much fun!  So much flexible thinking!

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The Lunch Buddies are finding it difficult to decide which of the newest games they like best!

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The fun begins with choosing team names.  The teams then work together to solve a set of 10 clues.  The “Buzzword” is contained in the answer to each clue.  We are not using the timer because everyone has a different processing speed.  Maybe we will start using it soon.

BTW- as of yesterday, this little blog has been viewed over 250,000 times.  I remember how excited I was when I got 1000 views!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Best,

Robin

 

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Planning

Sun flat stamp, vector illustration eps 10    If you are like me, you are always thinking and planning for the next school day, week, or year. It is difficult for me to turn off my work brain and relax. So, this morning as I enjoy my coffee on the deck, I am thinking about next school year. My caseload will change in a big way next year, and my focus will need to change as well. Many of the Lunch Buddies who have participated in social thinking skills groups are moving; some will go to a new city, some to middle school, and some to private schools.  For those students who remain on my caseload, what changes can I make to ensure that I am supporting them and their academic progress?

Flexible thinking will be a key strategy as I make a new plan and set new goals for myself and my students. Here are some results from my early morning brainstorming:

  • Be strategic.  I remember learning from Wayne Secord that third grade and beyond, my focus should be on helping students to be strategic.
  • Self-monitor.  Students should begin to learn how to self-check and self-monitor their behavior and work habits.
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Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

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Read my “What was your flexible thinking moment today?” blog post at http://autasticavenues.com/blog

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