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Roundtable on Social Skills Issues at TAER 2012

In a session on Social Skills at TAER 2012, the participants were asked to brainstorm activity and lesson ideas to help incorporate social skills lessons into their instruction.  In 10 minutes, they came up with  a whole exciting range of proposals.  Maybe these ideas will help spur your creative thinking!

Miscellaneous: Table etiquette, social obligations, hosts

  • Make tactile placemat with spoon, knife and fork placement. Have students set table.

  • Go to restaurant (or set up in your classroom). Practice etiquette at the table (e.g. table setting, ordering, manners, tip, pouring, passing food around).

  • Plan a game night. Make phone calls. Invitations. Shopping.

  • Passing food – Utensil placement. Family style serving.

  • Practice polite conversation, contacting a friend.

  • Practice appropriate manners (e.g. utensil use/accessibility, closed mouth while chewing, not everything is finger food, napkin in lap, perhaps pulling out chair for friend)

  • Payment arrangements

  • Phone etiquette

  • Role play in cafeteria


Dating: Expresses interest in spending time, accepts or refuses offer for a date, aware of payment options.

  • Discuss variations of flirting.

  • Discuss questions to ask to get details (e.g. location, time, transportation, etc.)

  • Politely accept/decline (e.g. Using polite excuses, letting someone know you just want to be friends)

  • Folding bills.

  • Discuss payment options (e.g. guys offering to pay, planning ahead to go Dutch, budgeting, etc.)

  • Different forms of payment (e.g. cash, debit/credit/check).

  • Role Play (e.g. Mock date, practicing with teacher – face-to-face, phone, texting, practicing unrehearsed with a peer in scenarios previously practiced with teacher.)

  • Outlining costs of a date (e.g. food, ride, movie ticket, etc.)

  • Means of communication (e.g. exchange phone numbers)

  • Discuss appropriate attire for specific date situation (grooming, matching, etc.)

  • Discuss appropriate personal space (e.g. appropriate touching, etc.)

  • Discuss appropriate conversation (i.e. conversation starters, open ended questions, listening skills, etc.)

  • Discuss eating etiquette

  • Skill building activities (e.g. Have a girl get together a “fashion party,” create an “interest inventory” – go to different venues to establish interests, creating opportunities to discover similar interests)

  • Real life practice: debriefing with teacher afterwards


Social Courtesies: Compliments, thank you, apologies, introductions, telephone etiquette, answering the door

  • Telephone etiquette: Invite a friend over for snacks



  1. Role play with teacher in classroom with phone. Script it (face to face).

  2. Call teacher/aides using a real phone at school.

  3. Call a peer  (an older student they can practice with).

  4. Record practice sessions and review.

  5. Problem solve (e.g. travel, date, time, potential wrenches: wrong numbers or answering machines)

  6. Practice other real calls on speaker phone with adult for real needs (e.g. Needing braille notetaker repair)

  7. Prepare arrangements (e.g. date, time, address, phone number, etc.) before calling to invite.

  8. Wrap up and review with teacher – How did it go? Questions?



  • Introductions



  1. Social skills practice (e.g. When meeting someone, extend your hand and introduce yourself, “Hi. My name is Helen.”)



  • Answering the Door



  1. Social skills practice (e.g. Student knocks on classroom door to ask if fellow student is ready for field trip, student knocks on front door to ask if fellow student is ready to go, etc.)



  • Relevant Activities



  1. Planning a field trip

  2. Student calls to make arrangements

  3. Requests information about landmarks

  4. Requests braille or large print menus

  5. Practices making reservations

  6. Ordering pizza – giving delivery address and payment arrangement


Requesting Sighted Assistance

  • Teach in a familiar environment (e.g. The mall)

  • Role play (e.g. asking politely, etc.)

  • Check for knowledge (e.g. Do they know their location? What’s the destination?)


Self-Identity: Understanding of visual impairment, awareness of personal competencies and limitations, self advocacy, appropriate assertiveness.

  • Relevant Activities



  1. Writing an ability statement (group or individual)

  2. Creating an “about me” video (e.g. two students Q&A)

  3. Researching their visual impairment (e.g. JAWS activity)

  4. Making a portfolio/powerpoint with information on visual impairment, modifications, adaptations (e.g. Making a student presentation for teachers during a transition time – Middle school to High school)

  5. MIVI – check for understanding via verbal explanation regarding visual impairment (activating prior knowledge)

  6. Role play (e.g. appropriate assertiveness – practicing alternatives to yelling, pushing & shoving.)

  7. Leading nonverbal communication (e.g. sign, gestures, symbols, etc.)

  8. Make a story book (e.g. Why Stacie’s Fingers See – include tools used and pictures of the eye, share with peers).

  9. List creation (e.g. What you are good/not good at, what you would like to do but feel you can’t due to limitations

  10. Self advocacy practice – Derail students’ modifications (e.g.braille or large print copy not available – problem solve).


Sharing: Possessions, interests & responsibilities

  • Lower elementary: What is sharing? Why is it important to share? How can it benefit you and others to share?



  • Role play: Level 1 – with teacher; Level 2 – with peer; Level 3 – within a classroom game



  • Follow up discussion: What did you like? What did you dislike? What worked well? What didn’t work that well? What could improve?


Participates in Recreational or Social Activities: Contacts others, adapts behaviors to particular situation.

  • Building Social Skills: Cafeteria



  1. Asking if seat is empty at a table

  2. Asking if (s)he can join the table

  3. Following the lead of others’ conversations (chiming in)



  • Adapts behaviors to particular situation



  1. Appropriately joining a conversation

  2. Learning to decline gracefully (reduce egocentricity)

  3. Requesting to assist in planning



  • Relevant Activities



  1. Tea party lesson: Review the history of tea parties, attain materials (e.g. tablecloth, napkins, sugar cubes, etc.), practice appropriate attire.


Social Activities: Plays with children of similar age; goes with friends to social events; participates in clubs, lessons & organizations

  • Relevant Activities


Superbowl party (HS age) – create invitation list & invitations, create budget & menu (shopping list), plan transportation, secure shopping assistance, utilize optical devices to retrieve items, make purchases, reverse route, prepare food, PARTY!


Scouting – listening to activity instruction, learning pledge/motto, role playing group activities (e.g. circle time), practicing service projects (e.g. build a birdhouse – turn taking practice, planting flowers

Summer Professional Development Opportunities for ...
Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans

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