C.T.A.G. Grant

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Barbara Weil, Principal
Claudia Jimenez, Karen Falchetta,
John Sherman Mills, Implementers

Project Title:
Teaching Critical Social Skills to Middle School Students

This project shares our educational successes at E.D.M.S. by means of an Internet web site, which will provide teachers with resources to incorporate social skills training into their instruction of the language arts California School Frameworks.

1. Description of Project:

The project shares the successes in student learning that have resulted from including social skills training into the middle school language arts curriculum.

The project will positive impact student learning by the following goals:
• to increase student time spent on-task in the classroom
• to increase student productivity
• to enhance the learning environments of the classrooms and school
• To improve student self-esteem and personal gained from knowledge of how to interact positively with their peers, teachers and parents.

The educational strategies of the project involve:
• Students are engaged by role-playing conversations and dialogues using (non-working) cell phones in the classroom in real life situations, such as calling for an appointment.
• Students act out dramatizations of situations in which the rules of social skills must be followed.
• Lesson plans follow the elements of instruction and best practices. The skills are introduced and modeled correctly by the teacher. The skill is practiced several times by role-playing with different students. Additional breakdown of tasks are provided for special needs students.
• The options are identified for variations in the delivery of the lessons to differentiate the instruction and provide scaffolding when needed.
• Directions for creating a “prop box” are provided. Students can be allowed to choose from a set number of costume items to create a character in role-playing.
• Teacher made worksheets are provided for inclusion in a portfolio-like collection, which can be used for review. Word banks and other accommodations are provided for special needs students.
• Students are provided with a survey to rate the skills they feel are most important in their lives.

The 180 different social skills addressed in this project include:

• Interactions with parents and family such as
*Accepting no for an answer
*Accepting criticism
*Giving compliments
*Making an apology

• Classroom behavior and academic performance
*Following instructions
*Disagreeing appropriately
*Accepting consequences
*Asking questions
*Following rules
*Dealing with an accusation

• Friendship and dating
*Showing respect to others
*Visiting a someone who is ill
*Introducing someone or yourself
*Getting another person’s attention
*Turn taking

• Interpersonal conflict and disagreement
*Developing anger control strategies
*Resolving a conflict with someone
*Ignoring distractions
*Apologizing to someone
*Interviewing for a job

This project has been successfully implemented in five language arts classrooms during the past two years. According to school records the number of office referrals in these classrooms has decreased by more than 50 percent. The playful, fun atmosphere incorporated into the teaching activities engages students.

This information will be disseminated via a web site which will describe classroom and individual activities that enhance students’ social skills while teaching the curriculum of the California Frameworks for language arts in both written and oral communication.

• The comprehensive web site will contain lesson plans, classroom strategies and Internet resources.
• Computerized student activities employing a multimedia format (Hyper Studio stacks) will be available to use online or to download for individual or small group instruction.
• The web site will include assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of the program.

To achieve the goals of this project the three teachers will attend professional development classes to learn how to move their solution into a web product. They will also participate in seminars and/or conferences in social skills training by an authorized agency, such as Girls and Boys Town. A budget item will provide release time. For reference purposes, a small library of literature will be acquired and assembled at our school site. The collection will be made available to other members of our teaching staff. Although one teacher has experience in web site development, some funding will be used for attendance at advanced courses in order that the potential of the web site of this project will be maximized. Hardware, peripherals and software will be acquired to construct the web site, to maintain the web presence and to develop computerized student experiences.

The teachers of this project will mentor other teachers at our school, using the web site as a resource. The web site will be modified as needed to be as effective as possible in assisting teachers with their need to teach social skills.

Several steps to evaluate the impact of the web site and of the project will be implemented

2. What Student or Teacher Needs are Addressed?

• Research has identified that teaching social skills improves academic performance, student self-esteem and classroom management. R.V. Burke, Ph.D. at Ohio State University in February of 2002, for example, published his study that took data sampling from more than 1000 observations in a public middle school. Roughly 25% of the classrooms had between 10% and 25% of the students off-task due to inappropriate peer interactions. Following the introduction of a program that included social skills training, a significant reduction occurred in classroom and school-wide behavior problems, student time spent off-task and office referrals for disruptive students. Frank Gresham, Ph.D. of the University of California-Riverside concluded from his research in 1997 that “social skills represent a class of behavior that is perhaps the most important and functional for children and youth. Social skills interventions (Furst & Christie, 1997) seem especially important for special needs students.

• The inclusion of social skills training has been used in five English classes for the past two years. During a recent survey of the staff eight other teachers indicated they wanted to be mentored and introduce the training into their curriculum. Although office referrals were reduced in the targeted classes, a school wide need exists. Currently our administrators at our site as many as 60 offices referrals a day.

• Social skills training can be easily infused into the curriculum teachers must address in the California language arts Frameworks. Students will write a personal letter using correct grammar and syntax. (Writing 1.1, 1.2 & 1.5). Students will learn the oral counterparts of the above by the role-playing in the classroom personal expression and reactions to a variety of situations. Students will express themselves using appropriate tone, mood and emotion. Students will relate the speaker’s verbal communication with the speaker’s non-verbal message. (Listening and Speaking Strategies 1.1, 1.2, 1.4 and 1.7).

• The project fulfills a need for teachers to have a medium of instruction that draws students into a commitment to learn new skills. The language lessons are centered around the students’ experiences, such as making a get-well card for a friend who is injured or composing an invitation to a party.

3. Value of Web Solution

The project will use a web-based medium as an online resource for teachers, both here at school and an expanded audience using the Internet.

• The web site will be divided into specific sections for lesson plans, assessment tools, student record-keeping systems, links to outside Internet Resources.

• The web site will also feature multimedia student activities in “Hyper Studio” stacks created by the authors. These can be either activated online or downloaded for distribution to other computers.

• The web site will use advanced authoring features of Dreamweaver and Fireworks to create an original and dazzling contribution on the web. Student pictures demonstrating applications of the skills will engage the viewer. A search of the Internet has indicated that no such resource currently exists.

• A portion of the web site will be devoted to special needs students and those needing modifications or accommodations, such as braking tasks down into smaller units of behavior.

• The web site will host a bulletin board on which teachers can post feedback, ask questions and share successes.

• The web site will contain an updated bibliography, as well as a listing of upcoming courses, seminars, conferences and in-services on teaching social skills.

• The web site containing the information described above will be registered with several search engines, such as Yahoo. (The authors sought information on the Internet about teaching social skills and discovered a lack of resources relevant to educators.) The site itself will be added to appropriate web rings to attract traffic. The web site will have school related pictures (with parental permission) to create a visually interesting presence. Animated cartoons and background music will enhance the visitors’ experience.

• Streaming multimedia will be a feature of the student activities created with Hyper Studio. These can be downloaded as well as teacher lesson plans. These will contain that images and animations designed as having a high interest value to students, which will be significantly more engaging than a traditional, paper/pencil medium.

• The online bulletin board, update posting of appropriate courses and library of relevant links will supplement the project’s effort to be an effective resource.
• Teachers will feel motivated to duplicate the activities of this project, because the lesson plans will be clearly understandable and readily adaptable to the California frameworks for language arts. The web site will provide a bibliography that will convincingly document how incorporating the teaching of social skills into their curriculum will result in improved classroom management, increased academic performance, reduced office referrals for disciplinary action, extended on-task behaviors and enhanced learning environments.

4. Evaluation

• The project will measure the outcome of this grant by a method frequently used in other studies, the analysis office referrals (Thompson, Ruma, & Nelson 1998). Data will be compared between statistics from this year and next year. Not only will the school administrators will analyze the number of referrals, but also the reasons that required their interventions. Among the data to be analyzed will be fewer disciplinary problems, referrals to Saturday schools.

• The Walker-McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment for Adolescents will be utilized to secure a numerical rating of the school’s learning environment before and after the implementation of the project.

• A measurable outcome will be the number of visitors to the teacher resource web site and the comments left in the guest book.

• Our principal at a district-wide meeting of administrators will share the results. The teachers will present at a district wide meeting of special day class teachers.
The findings will be shared with all teachers in the MDEA union newsletter.

• Further, evaluative statements will appear on the website.

5. Professional Development

• 25% of the budget will be used on professional development. The grant will allow several teachers with release time and monies to attend training in web site construction at the C.C.C.O.E in Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

• Teachers will also attend seminars on teaching social skills in the classroom. A small library of reference materials will be created for use among the staff members.

• The project will use a computer, connected via the Internet through the district’s trunk line. A scanner will be acquired and the school’s digital camera in order to place attractive images on the web site. The teachers will use software such as “Front Page” to create the web site. The staff will also use two other computers loaded with “HyperStudio” to design computerized student learning activities. Students at our school will use the programs prior to them being added to the web site.

• The teachers take professional development classes to learn how to make an effective web site. This will involve acquiring skills in web page design and site maintenance, using “Dreamweaver.” The site will include special features like a bulletin board, guest book and traffic counter. At least one of the teachers will learn how to make “Hyper Studio” stacks for use in the web site. The two staff member who have computer experience will share his knowledge of digital cameras, scanners and stacks. The web site. will be registered with several search engines to promote its presence on the Internet.

• All teacher-partners are included in the professional development plan.

7. CTAG Budget

CTAG Grant

4 Hewlett Packard Desktop Computers…….$ 6,000…….CTAG Grant
2 Hewlett Packard Printers………………….$ 1,000…….CTAG Grant
4 Macromedia Web Suite …………………..$ 600…….CTAG Grant
2 Flatbed Scanners……………………………$ 400…….CTAG Grant

CTAG Total $8,000

Matching Funds
1 Hewlett Packard Desktop Computer …$ 1,200...PTSA Fund
4 Tech Integration Classes….$ 600…School Tech Fund
2 Conference fees for Social Skills…$ 400…Principal Fund

Matching Funds $ 2200

In Kind Funds
Teacher Release Time...$ 1000……….SIP
Reference materials...$ 200...Corporate donation
1 Intermediate Web Page class...$ 75...Site Tech Fund
3 Social Skills Inservices…$ 225…Spec. Education
Cables and wiring....$ 300… District Tech Dept.

In-Kind Fund…$1800

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