Taking Turns in Conversation – a Social Skills Lesson
For this week’s blog, I wanted to walk you guys through a lesson from our iPad app, Let’s be Social. I use the app as a launching point for my lessons. Often the app facilitates role playing and group discussions.
A lesson I’ve been using a lot lately is Taking Turns in Conversation. Some of my kiddos who have autism or developmental delays have trouble picking up on the social cues of others around them. Specifically, in conversations one person does all the talking which makes other students mad. The chatty student doesn’t perceive their feelings so they keep talking over people. Let’s be Social is a nice way for me to teach students how to have a conversation where everyone is involved. I’ve used it in groups ranging from 3-6 students.
Setting the Scene
I began our lesson by talking about conversation skills. I reviewed body language and eye contact and gave examples with my body. I explained how we use listening eyes to look at the speaker and keep our bodies facing them. Then I compared a conversation to a game of catch. I even brought in a ball to show them that a conversation should be like throwing the ball back and forth. One person makes a comment or asks a question and then another person goes. We practiced throwing the ball back and forth and letting whoever caught it speak. Then I jumped into the lesson on the iPad. To start I chose one student to read the summary out loud and then I read it again, pausing at salient moments. This is a nice place to support the student’s comprehension by asking them who is in the story, what their problem is, and how they feel. You don’t have the break down every part of the summary because the questions do that, but it is important to make sure they understand what the story is about.
Breaking it Down
Next we went through the questions and answers. I took a lot of time here to talk about the illustrations and the action in the story. I asked, “Who do you see, what is happening, and how do they look?” You might have to repeat the question multiple times and highlight aspects of the picture (Look at his face and body language… or look at what he is doing here). Help the students out by showing them what to look for. This way, they can start to use these skills in their own life. Once they select an answer, don’t just move on. Take the time to talk about why the answer is correct or incorrect. When a student picks the wrong answer, the app lets you go back and try again. My student enjoyed passing the iPad around and taking turns to read and answer questions. We discussed every page as a group but the students liked having the hands on experience of using the iPad themselves.
After you’ve gone through all of the questions you’ll end up back at to the summary page. This is where I review what we learned. I don’t always read the whole story again. Instead I check the student’s understanding by asking what the problem was, how did it make others feel, and how the characters fixed the problem. If my students had a particularly difficult time with one question, I scroll back to the questions so the student can see part of the story again. The visuals really help the students out because these discussions are pretty language heavy. I also try to tie the story to my student’s life by role playing. Everyone takes turns being the actors and then we all discuss what the unexpected behavior was and how to correct it. In this case, I asked one actor to be the person doing all the talking and the other to look bored. My students could see that the behavior of too much talking was causing the other person to feel bored.
Once the lesson is finished, I always praise my students and tell them which part they did a nice job with. The app helps out by giving visual positive reinforcement at the end of every lesson. Gold stars pop up which are shaded in for every correct answer they got (I usually record the number they got correct). I can see how proud my students look, which is an awesome feeling.