Capstone/Dissertation Title

Teaching social skills to urban students

Term

2006

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Abstract

I am a fifth grade teacher in an urban charter school working with "at risk" students with social behavioral problems. I wanted to know how to create community with in the classroom because I feel a safe and welcoming atmosphere is necessary for students to learn. I wondered if student interactions would become more positive with the teaching of social skills. My research question was, "What is the impact of teaching social skills in an urban fifth grade classroom?" Several researchers have influenced and supported my interest in teaching social skills. McGinnis and Goldstein (1997) suggested schools needed to create opportunities for students to participate in rule setting and to accept responsibility; students must be taught the skills necessary for prosocial participation in these activities. Jackson, Jackson and Monroe (1983) believe social skill training programs are needed because many children do not acquire critically important social abilities without them. Charney (2002) stresses teachers need to establish an on going curriculum in self-control, social participation, and human development. Lane, Menzies, Barton-Arwood, Doukas, and Munton (2005) state social skills are a necessary component of a student's educational and social success. McGinnis, Jackson, Charney and Lane are just a few researchers that influenced and supported my interest in teaching social skills. I action researched by teaching social skills to my fifth grade students using "Skillstreaming the Elementary School Child: New Strategies and Perspectives for Teaching Prosocial Skills" by McGinnis and Goldstein as my curriculum. I implemented my action research plan in ten days. The first and last days were spent giving a questionnaire survey. The rest of the days I taught the social skills: listening, problem solving, dealing with anger, and apologizing in eight forty-five minute lessons. Two days per social skill. The data I collected was student opinions from the questionnaire surveys and observations before, during, and after the teaching of social skills. I wanted to know if teaching the social skill lessons would have an impact on the students' interactions with each other. The results of the surveys were less dramatic than desired. Ideally, I wanted to see all students increase their use of social skills I taught. Listening increased, problem solving and apologizing stayed the same, and anger management decreased. In the students' opinions, problem solving, dealing with anger, and apologizing were the most useful skills to learn. From my observations, problem solving was the most useful and utilized social skill used by the students. I had two predictions for the outcomes of my study. One prediction was that teaching my students social skills would improve their interactions with each other. The other prediction was improved student interaction would create a stronger learning community, thus creating more time for learning. In my opinion, both of my predictions were accurate. According to my observations, student interactions and time for instruction did improve.

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