March 2021 - Teaching Social Skills and Problem Solving

Disability Resource Library Newsletter

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March 2021 - Teaching Social Skills and Problem Solving

Teach Social Skills + Problem Solving

This month, our newsletter focuses on resources for teaching social skills and problem solving. Whether you're a teacher or a parent - or both - helping students meet behavioral goals is just one of many on the path to improving their social competence. Here, we highlight some of the resources our Disability Resource Library has to offer in helping you achieve your goals.

Please have a look at a few of the resources our Disability Resource Library provides and, as always, please feel free to reach out to Roger May, the Media Resource Specialist for the Center for Excellence in Disabilities, via email at or by phone at 304-205-6434.

Featured Resources

Arrangements for borrowing or returning resources during this COVID period can be made by calling 304-205-6434.
Browse more resources.

Acting Out Social Skills: Beyond the Basics by June Stride

Covers of Activing Out

Acting Out Social Skills: Beyond the Basics prepares students for social interaction challenges commonly found at work. Students role play, analyze, and discuss seven work-related dilemmas as viewed from the perspective of three different characters. Students are guided through a structured process to resolve each dilemma. The dilemmas address seven universal character virtues: Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Citizenship, Trustworthiness, Caring, and Civic Responsibility. The program consists of a full-color Student Book and Teacher’s Guide. The Student Book is organized theatrically with settings, actors, and scenes. Student activities focus on emotions, behaviors, and alternative methods to resolve social problems. The Teacher’s Guide includes a Student Book with all the worksheets completed.

The teacher guides include a Win/Mac CD with a PDF and a Classroom License for printouts. By June Stride, EdD. Books are covered spiralbound, 150–160 pages, full color, 2011.

You can borrow Acting Out Social Skills: Beyond the Basics now.

Easy Activities for Building Social Skills by Nancy Jolson Leber

Foster a positive classroom community and build 20 essential social skills with dozens of kid-friendly activities! In this comprehensive resource, you'll find clear background information on each skill, specific ways to model appropriate behavior, and companion lessons that use play, writing, songs, art, and movement to enrich circle time or any time. You'll also find lists of positive teacher comments, target behaviors, related reading, and more!

You can borrow Easy Activities for Building Social Skills from our library now.

Tools for Teaching Social Skills in School by Michele Hensley, Jo C. Dillon, Denise Pratt, Jacqueline Ford, Ray Burke Ph.D.

Dealing with disruptive behaviors in the classroom can reduce the time a teacher has available for academic teaching. Teachers can help prevent problem behaviors by teaching social skills to students. When children practice and learn how to behave in the classroom, they contribute to creating an environment that’s calm, quiet, and conducive to successful learning. This book provides teachers with: Lesson plans with activities that can be adapted for students in grades K-12. The plans include suggestions for discussion, activities, journaling, role play, and reading; Reproducible skill pages that you can hand out or post in the classroom as reminders to students and coupons you can use to reward good behavior; Techniques for "blending" the teaching of social skills into academic lessons in reading, writing, math, and social studies; Ideas for using bulletin board displays and individual student graphs to motivate and monitor behavior; Strategies for increasing parent support.

You can borrow Tools for Teaching Social Skills in School from our library now.

Teaching Social Skills to Youth by Tom Dowd, M.A., and Jeff Tierney, M.Ed.

the Teaching Social Skills to You

This book is a step-by-step component behaviors to 182 skills, from the basic, like following instructions and introducing yourself, to the complex, such as managing stresses and resolving conflicts.

You can borrow Teaching Social Skills to Youth now!

Learn About Life: Sexuality and Social Skills

Learn About Life is an illustrated sex education and social skills program with straight-forward, candid graphics and simple text. Effective for students who don't understand euphemisms or veiled explanations, but need to know what's going on with their bodies, what is appropriate and how to stay safe. Learn About Life makes this task easier, for both the learner and the instructor.

The instructor’s guide has six chapters: Your Body-My Body, Being a Woman, Being a Man, Having a Baby, Be Safe and Relationships. Each chapter provides up to eight lessons, 40 in all. Lessons detail objectives and teaching suggestions.

Student resources feature six laminated, full-color booklets. All concepts are tastefully but clearly illustrated. Cover-up stickers are included so you can edit the material as necessary.

Spiralbound book, 101 pages, six laminated, 9 x 12-inch, full-color booklets, 2nd Ed. 2003.

You can borrow Learn About Life from our library now.

Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs by Darlene Mannix

In this thoroughly revised and updated edition, special educator and best-selling author Darlene Mannix offers teachers and parents a unique collection of illustrated activities complete with student worksheets, discussion questions, and evaluation suggestions to help adolescents with special needs acquire the basic skills that they need to achieve independence and success in everyday life.

This book can be used equally well as an ongoing curriculum for daily life skills training in the classroom or as a go-to reference for teachers and therapists.

You can borrow Life Skills Activities from our library now.

Parent/Teacher Navigation Tips - Teach Your Student Social Interactions

(Adapted from an article by LD Online from WETA, a PBS affiliate in Washington, DC)

If you ask someone how they learned to read nonverbal cues, they may reply that they learned these things by watching family and friends; many people may reply that they don't really know how they know a person is sad or annoyed — they just know. This is because for most people, the skills needed for social interaction come 'naturally' when growing up. But for many individuals this process may not be so easy, so social skills learning might be needed. Here are a few to try:

  • Explain the need for learning the particular social skill
  • Model and role-play together what is expected
  • Review and reflect on how well the new skill is used
  • Celebrate progress

For more information and tips, continue reading the article, Practicing Social Skills: How to Teach Your Student Social Interactions, by National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd). Read the full article here.

A Child's Champion

a photo fo Jim McKay stading in front of the US Capitol building

March's Child's Champion is Jim McKay, State Coordinator, Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia.

im has worked either with or for children for most his adult life going back to being a YMCA Day Camp Counselor during my summers in college. "I was going to become a high school band director before switching my major to political science in my junior year," he shared. "For the past 15 years I’ve been working as State Coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse WV. Our work focuses on helping strengthen families and creating community conditions so that children can thrive. We accomplish our mission through partnerships and work in three primary areas: community-based prevention programs, public engagement and training, and policy advocacy."

Jim has helped found and lead various initiatives to improve the lives of children in West Virginia including the Our Babies: Safe & Sound Campaign, Partners in Prevention, Circle of Parents WV, the ACEs Coalition of West Virginia, the State Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, and the Legislative Action Team for Children and Families.

When asked about choosing this line of work, Jim shared, "I got into this work in part because of my personal experiences growing up and the challenges that faced my father and our family after he returned from Vietnam with undiagnosed PTSD. He battled alcoholism for much of my childhood. Fortunately, Dad achieved sobriety later in his life, but things were very tough for dad, my mom, me, and my twin brother. But not everyone has those same support systems," he noted. "I want my sons and all of our children to have the bright, healthy future that they deserve."

Jim added, "I have seen the results of what happens when families and communities come together to make things better for children. Seeing the positive impact of what can be achieved when people work together on behalf of all children inspires me."

Jim helped successfully advocate for the enactment of numerous pieces of legislation and state policies including comprehensive child sexual abuse prevention legislation, expanded funding for early childhood and family support programs, overturning funding cuts for family violence prevention programs, and expansion of early childhood home visitation. He's also had a hand in helping defeat many other bad bills that would have had negative consequences for children. He received several awards and recognitions including the WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence Purple Ribbon Award (2013), the WV Child Advocacy Network’s One with Courage Award (2018), the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition Champion for Children Award (2015), and the WV Alliance for Children Friend of Children Award (2018).

"One of my favorite quotes is “We all do better, when we all do better.” by the late Paul Wellstone, who was a great US Senator from Minnesota," Jim shared. "This quote resonates with me because it counters the sentiment that somehow when someone is lifted up that someone else must go down. It doesn’t have to be that way. On the contrary, efforts that hold back others hold us all back from achieving our full potential," he said.

"So many of the problems facing families are the result of structural inequities that distribute power and resources differentially across lines of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, gender expression, immigration status, and other dimensions of individual and group identity. These structural inequities have negative consequences for our communities and especially for those who are oppressed and exploited to benefit another segment of society. We will not ALL do better, while so many are held back by racism and oppression," he said.

"I am fighting for a transformed future where we ALL do better. Thankfully, there are many more who join me in this fight — those who are fighting every day and have been fighting for many years. I am grateful for their leadership and sacrifice. I look forward to a hopeful, more positive future — together," he shared.

Please help us thank Child's Champion Jim McKay for all he does for West Virginia's children!

Do you know someone you'd like to nominate to be featured as a Child's Champion in our monthly newsletter? Please let us know! Contact Roger May, the Media Resource Specialist for the Center for Excellence in Disabilities, via email at or by phone at 304-205-6434.