Figurative Language is Tricky! Help Your Students Learn to “Figure” it Out!

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The English language is filled with figurative language. Many have been used for so long and are so common that people often don’t even consider them to be abstract! If you work with students who struggle understanding abstract and figurative language or who have poor executive functions, they likely miss a lot of meaning during conversation and when reading.

I found that with my clients, they often understood and had been taught basic figurative expressions such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but struggled with the more commonly used phrases and slang. You might be surprised if you ask your students to define some of these common phrases. When a student is having a bad day, tell them to “hang in there” and then ask them if they can explain what that means.

I recently spent a few weeks compiling a list of the most commonly used expressions that aren’t obviously figurative. I used those 90 phrases and made a basic card game to be used with any game or activity. I also incorporated executive function skills and use of context clues in the instruction to help students learn to use self-talk, or their inner voice and to consider the context to help them figure out the meaning.

You can find it here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Figurative-Language-Use-Self-Talk-and-Context-to-Figure-it-Out-3379550

In my search for the most commonly used phrases, I discovered a useful site called idioms4you.com. Although, use with caution, because it does contain many pop up ads, some which are inappropriate for children.  I like it because it offers an audio definition of the phrase and quizzes. Here is the link:

http://www.idioms4you.com/new/new.php

I hope you and your students will “get a kick out of it”!

The Creative SLP

 

Executive Functions: Help your students develop and strenghten their own inner voice

If you’ve visited my blog before, you know I love using commercials to help get a conversation going with students about a topic. So, when I saw this Nike commercial it reignited my interest in helping students develop and strengthen their executive functioning skills. Use this video to help explain and teach executive functions to your students.

 

A few years ago, I was part of a team that developed a program to help middle schoolers learn how to use “self-talk” to navigate social situations and problem solve situations on their own. What we discovered in the process was that many students lack the inner dialogue necessary to effectively complete school tasks, figure out social situations, and get to where they needed to be on time and with the necessary materials.

The culture in schools is slowly changing, but for the most part, executive functions are not directly taught in schools. And, many school-aged students simply have not developed the skills necessary to get their work done and be socially successful in school.

So my advice to parents and educators would be…

DO NOT ASSUME children have fully developed organizational systems to complete tasks or socially savvy inner dialogues to navigate nuanced situations.

It’s your responsibility to explicitly teach them and provide opportunities for them to develop and refine these executive functioning skills.

I have found many resources out there to help students become more aware of the ability to use an inner dialogue to help them problem solve and successfully navigate the social world. See one of my favorites below.

The Zones of Regulation

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I’ve also created many activities and resources for building executive functioning skills. Check out my two most recent creations.

BUNDLE Build Social Skills with Executive Functioning Activities

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Executive Functions Informal Assessment Questionnaire 

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When you’ve taken the time to help your students build stronger executive functioning skills, use your own “self-talk” to tell yourself, “Good job.” ; )

 

 

 

What You Say Isn’t Always What You Mean

I love using witty commercials to get a conversation going with my clients about the importance of social skills and these two Citibank commercials are perfect!

I love Citibank’s tagline: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said what they meant? 

For people who struggle with social skills, life would be easier if everyone said what they meant.

This is especially true when dating. People want to avoid awkward moments, so they mask their true intentions with niceties. Most people want to avoid hurting others’ feelings so they tell “white lies”.

Some cultures use more direct language but here in America, our language is filled with indirect and implied language in order to reduce awkward situations and appear more polite and agreeable.  So, it’s important to think about others’ thinking to figure out people’s true intentions.

After you show these commercials, use examples like this to keep the conversation going about the need to think about others’ thinking:

This is a conversation that happens on a regular basis in my home. My husband gets a lot of practice thinking about my thinking just to figure out what’s for dinner! The implied language is in parentheses.

Husband: What should we eat for dinner?  

Me: I doesn’t matter. (It does matter)

Husband: We could make hamburgers.

Me: We could… or we could make tacos. (I don’t want hamburgers)

Husband: What about steak?

Me: We already have the ‘fixins for tacos. (I don’t want steak either)

Husband: Ok… Tacos it is.

Me: Perfect! That was easy.

Husband: It SURE was. (It was NOT easy. Why didn’t you just say you wanted tacos in the first place?)

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Use this visual to help your students or clients think about the thinking of others. Help them learn to pick up on clues from context, tone of voice, and body language to help them figure out what people REALLY mean. Then, ask them to come up with their own examples of how people don’t always say what they mean.

Get creative and have fun!

Michelle Garcia Winner  has a great book that contains many useful worksheets related to indirect and implied language. I couldn’t do my job without this book!

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You can purchase it here:   Social Thinking Thinksheets for Tweens and Teens

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers site for more social skills activities. You can find it here: The Creative SLP

It’s Time to Talk to Yourself!

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Students these days are very fortunate. When I was in school, I was never directly taught social skills, how to study, or even how to organize my work. Today, teachers and other education professionals have started to learn effective ways to help students become more independent thinkers and problem solvers.

The list of skills that executive functions are involved with is very long. It can be overwhelming to try to understand how to address and improve these skills. Most people understand that executive functions are related to organization, but the skills involved include so much more than just that. Executive functioning is everything! So check out the blog article I wrote for the awesome company I work for, Carolina Pediatric Therapy . I love how they are always looking for new ideas and ways to help educate the community. This is the first article I’ve written for them and there are many more to come. Enjoy!

5 QUESTIONS EVERY PARENT SHOULD ASK BEFORE SENDING THEIR CHILD BACK TO SCHOOL

2 Questions for YOU and YOUR Students

The beginning of a school year is a great time to do some self-reflection and goal setting, for both students and teachers. This year, try a more creative approach to help them reflect and set goals for the year. Instead of the boring, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What do you want to accomplish this year?” show your students this video and have them answer these 2 questions:

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Daniel Pink’s book, Drive has been out for years, but I still get the best ideas from it and apply it to my work with children and education. I’ve been thinking a lot about executive functions lately and this video fits perfectly with the use of “self-talk”. Asking your students to think about their own life and encouraging them to ask themselves what they want to be remembered by will help motivate them throughout the year.

After they write their own sentence, help them create a visual art representation of it to feature their sentence and display it in the classroom. At the end of the week, have them reflect back on their week and answer the 2nd question. Have them write a few sentences and answer what went well and what they could have done differently. When I worked in a school, my teacher friend and I actually submitted a video with our sentence and our students’ sentences. Daniel Pink used a few of them in this video! See if you can spot me in it at 1:43  : )

What’s Your Sentence?: The Video from Daniel Pink on Vimeo

Here’s my sentence for this year:

“She helped teachers and students develop and discover a love for creativity and passion.”

What’s yours?

 

Discover more great ideas from Daniel Pink here: http://www.danpink.com/