Practical Tips for Emotion Vocabulary and Social Language Skills
Work? Who, me? If you have a student population who is, shall we say defiant, then you’d probably be happy to get the polite rejection of the student in the photo.
After working with students who fit in the mainstream, switching to students with social/emotional disorders who need occasional hospital visits can be quite a change. Especially when they are middle schoolers, a trying time for all of us when we were there!
I’m not making any claims about perfection, but I certainly learned a few helpful tips.
1. Give your students some control over the content or the activities they are being asked to learn.
2. This opens the door for practicing language for negotiating and compromising, as well.
3. Take care of your students’ needs first. They probably have a lot going on in their heads that they have to work through, anyway, before they can begin to focus.
4. Make sure to build a connection with every student that you can, even if they aren’t on your caseload. Next year, they might be!
5. Don’t bother trying to find just that right materials that will excite them into learning. Your relationship with them may help them be able to start the learning process.
Are You Jumping Hurdles?
If every session feels like they are making you jump hurdles, then maybe try incorporating their speech/language goals into activities that allow them to reflect on the issues that are filling up their thoughts.
How about vocabulary for identifying and expressing the intensity of the emotion they are experiencing at that moment? This blog article has a great Emotions Wheel with tons of words to choose from!
Use Some Hands-On Activities
Your students can do some hands on activities for learning the chosen vocabulary.
- Make a personalized dictionary.
- Play games with photos of different facial expressions or situations.
- Find images to make a picture dictionary.
- Look up synonyms using a great online student dictionary.
Do Some Social Problem Solving
‘How big is your problem?’
Students who explode over every small incident need lots of varied vocabulary for angry emotions to be able to think about the severity of the problem.
Explaining their reasoning for their answers helps them internalize the language and thinking skills for their own future use. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help you get started!
This website has a wealth of information on problem solving, including problem solving steps, a video of this in action (with a lovely Aussie accent), scenarios and some downloads.
This is an animated YouTube video about the steps to problem solving. The voice is a bit mechanical, but students may like the animation.
Check out the Problem Solving section of my store for more help!