by Judy Bonne
Singing "Keep the Peace," dancing to "Please Don't Put Me Down," role playing "Tell the Truth"; these are some of the activities you'll find occurring regularly at Grayling Elementary School in Grayling, Michigan. A third through fifth grade school with a population of 430 students, Grayling Elementary is committed to helping students improve their ability to use appropriate social skills to build positive relationships and problem solve and to practice the concepts of respect and personal responsibility.
In 1996 the school became one of the five schools in the Crawford-AuSable School District to seek North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) outcomes endorsement. At that time Grayling Elementary piloted the POWER SKILLS program as part of its School Improvement Plan. Based upon the musical, inter and intrapersonal components of the theory of multiple intelligences, the program is in its third year of schoolwide implementation. And the results are significant. The NCA team evaluated the program in December 1998. They found the interventions powerful enough to improve learning. "Faculty are committed to integrating the interventions into the regular instructional program . . . All teachers use and fully support this program. They have seen a positive change in the students attitude, self-esteem, demeanor and method of dealing with conflict," commented the team.
School Social Worker and songwriter, Clyde Holzbauer, has been instrumental in making this happen. Monthly, in a schoolwide assembly, using singing, skits, puppets and role playing, Holzbauer introduces one of the ten social skills of the year. Twice a month he visits each of the schools 19 classrooms for "Drop and Sing." He reviews the song highlighting the monthly social skill and also facilitates the integration of that skill into the classroom themes. All students are given their own individual tape that includes each of the ten skill songs and a POWER tee shirt. Staff development is conducted monthly and assessment is continuous. Teachers use the POWER SKILLS tapes, skill posters and supporting materials to reinforce the social skills in their classrooms. Parents and community members participate in the monthly assemblies. Parents are encouraged to become active partners in the program and provided materials to guide them. Power citations are awarded daily to students demonstrating the "skill of the month." These citations along with monthly classroom assessments provide the basis for individual and grade level awards at each assembly.
The core curriculum for the social skills program at Grayling Elementary School is developed within the lyrics of the POWER SKILLS songs. These ten original songs stimulate memory and long term learning. The songs include: "YOU'VE GOT THE POWER," an anthem conveying five messages about pride, order, work, energy and respect. The anthem is represented by the acronym, P.O.W.E.R.
"KEEP THE PEACE" provides students with three options in a conflict; walk away, speak your mind, or find someone who can help.
"TELL THE TRUTH" encourages making honest responses even when the immediate results might seem difficult.
"PLEASE DON'T PUT ME DOWN," better known as PDPMP, emphasizes empathy and reminds students that name-calling and put-downs are hurtful and harmful.
"LIKE A RIVER" highlights the spirit of cooperation as well as the value of maintaining good health, thinking independently and setting goals.
"WORK AND PLAY" promotes a healthy balance between work and recreation and stresses the importance of each.
"IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO" reinforces the importance of making good choices and resisting negative peer pressure.
"EVERYBODY'S DIFFERENT" encourages appreciating individual differences and celebrating diversity.
"TAKE YOUR TURN" conveys the importance of patience.
"SKILL POWER" serves as a lyrical summary of the other nine social skills.
Grayling Elementary's discipline program is captured in two words, POWER SKILLS. Says the NCA team evaluating this program, "This is an exemplary program that addresses different learning styles, brings the program into the home and makes it a part of everyday living for students, teachers and parents."
Judy Bonne is the principal of Grayling School in Grayling, Michigan. For more information, materials and songs contact Clyde Holzbauer, Social Worker at Cholzbauer@vista.casd.k12.mi.us or Judy Bonne, Principal at Jbonne@vista.casd.k12.mi.us . Funded in part by a Safe and Drug-Free Schools grant.
Copyright © January 2000
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