Links Module 6

SECTION 2: Strategies for Customization

Adapting and Making Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The following resources provide guidance on working with students with a variety of disabilities. The resources provide information about adaptations that can be made to instructional techniques and accommodations that can be provided to increase inclusion in the classroom.

Teaching Students with Disabilities
Source: Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching
Link: cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/disabilities/

Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities
Source: Learning Disabilities Association of America
Link: ldaamerica.org/successful-strategies-for-teaching-students-with-learning-disabilities/

Teaching Students with Disabilities
Source: Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Washington
Link: www.washington.edu/teaching/topics/inclusive-teaching/teaching-students-with-disabilities/

Teaching Students with Disabilities
Source: University of Rochester
Link: www.rochester.edu/college/teaching/teaching-guidance/students-with-disabilities.html

Etiquette for Working with Students with Disabilities
Source: Best Colleges
Link: www.bestcolleges.com/resources/disability-etiquette/

Students with Disabilities in the College Classroom
Source: HEATH Resource Center at the National Youth Transitions Center
Link: www.heath.gwu.edu/students-disabilities-college-classroom

College for Students with Disabilities: A Guide for Students, Families, and Educators
Source: Maryville University
Link: online.maryville.edu/disabilities-guide/

Tips for Teaching Students with Disabilities
Source: The University of Wyoming — University Disability Support Services
Link: www.uwyo.edu/wind/echo OR www.uwyo.edu/wind/index.html

Invisible Disabilities and Postsecondary Education
Source: DO IT Center, University of Washington
Link: www.washington.edu/doit/invisible-disabilities-and-postsecondary-education
Related Video – Captioned and Audio Described (18:44 minutes)
Link: www.washington.edu/doit/videos/index.php?vid=36

How to Teach and Accommodate
Source: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Link: www.umassd.edu/dss/resources/faculty-staff/how-to-teach-and-accommodate/

23 Ways to Communicate with a Non-Verbal Child
Source: Special Needs Resources
Link: www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2013/04/16/23-ways-to-communicate-with-a-non-verbal-child/

Instructional Strategies
Source: Understood: for Learning & Attention Issues
Link: www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies

At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations for Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
Source: Understood: for Learning & Attention Issues
Link: www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-nonverbal-learning-disabilities

Customizing the Lesson Using Presentation Material and Interactive Exercises

There are three sets of resources provided that can be woven together to customize the learning experience, depending on your goals as a facilitator for this particular lesson on Skills for Successful Employment (e.g., providing a very simple introduction versus teaching the basics as a platform for having students engage in deeper learning about complex examples). These include: (1) advance preparation material that students can review; (2) a set of PowerPoint slides that can be used in a presentation and discussion format; and (3) a set of interactive exercises to stimulate applied learning, creativity, and deeper thinking about the concepts.

1.    Advance Preparation Material for Students

This lesson provides a very simple, high-level overview of Skills for Successful Employment. The goal is to introduce students to hard and soft skills. Suggested resources for advance preparation include readings about skills for successful employment.

As noted, these materials can be provided in advance to students, or if the class session is long enough, they may be used in class prior to presenting the PowerPoint slides and getting into a specific discussion of the skills for successful employment. Alternatively, they could be used as both advance preparation (pre-homework) and repeated in class to reinforce the learning.

2.   PowerPoint Slides

The PowerPoint slides can be used in class to provide an overview of skills for successful employment. Combined with the interactive exercises, the presentation can be extended to cover a long class session or multiple smaller class sessions. The slides can also be presented on their own as part of a short lesson on Skills for Successful Employment.

3.   Interactive Exercises

Several interactive exercises are provided to engage the students in considering specific examples that relate to the material in “Skills for Successful Employment.” For example, while the presentation material explains hard and soft skills and discusses the importance of these skills, an interactive exercise leads the students to practice how to develop these soft skills. Therefore, the exercise provides a concrete lesson on the soft skills and allows an opportunity to practice developing these skills.

SECTION 3: Suggested Advance Preparation for Facilitators

Readings

Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success (PDF)
The “Soft Skills for Workplace Success,” curriculum focuses on preparing youth, including those with disabilities, for readiness in the workplace. Created for youth development professionals as an introduction to workplace interpersonal and professional skills, the curriculum is targeted for youth ages 14 to 21 in both in-school and out-of-school environments. The basic structure of the program is comprised of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor (ODEP)
Link: www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/individuals/youth/transition/soft-skills

List of Soft Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
Source: The Balance
Link: www.thebalance.com/list-of-soft-skills-2063770

Why Soft Skills Matter
Source: Mind Tools
Link: www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_34.htm

Keeping a Job Resources from the PACER National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.
Source: PACER National Parent Center on Transition and Employment
Link: www.pacer.org/transition/learning-center/employment/keeping-a-job.asp

Understanding Your Child’s Trouble with Organization and Time Management Resources from the PACER National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.
Source:
Understood – For Learning & Attention Issues
Link: www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/organization-issues/understanding-your-childs-trouble-with-organization-and-time-management

Helping Youth Build Work Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families
This InfoBrief addresses the need for youth to acquire work skills and offers strategies parents and families can use to work with their youth to develop skills that lead to success on the job. This InfoBrief also includes information on how to incorporate work skill development into school documents, such as the Individualized Education Program and the Summary of Performance.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/publications/helping-youth-build-work-skills-for-job-success-tips-for-parents-and-families/

Helping Youth Develop Soft Skills for Job Success (Podcast Series)
This podcast series provides ideas for parents and families on activities they can do at home and include in their child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) to ensure he or she develops skills needed for job success by the time he or she completes high school.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/podcast/helping-youth-develop-soft-skills-for-job-success

Helping Youth Develop Soft Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families
This InfoBrief discusses the importance of soft skills and offers strategies parents and families can use to help their child develop skills for employment success. (Also available in Spanish).
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/publications/helping-youth-develop-soft-skills-for-job-success-tips-for-parents-and-families/

Helping Youth with Learning Disabilities Chart the Course: A Guide for Youth Service Professionals
This InfoBrief describes challenges faced by youth and young adults with learning disabilities as they reach adulthood, while highlighting strategies youth service professionals can implement to help youth to transition successfully into the workplace.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/information-brief/helping-youth-with-learning-disabilities-chart-the-course

Working with Employers – Workplace Success
This guide describes how to create successful work-based experiences for youth and their employers that foster adult employment success for all youth, particularly for those with disabilities.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/publications/working-with-employers-workplace-success/

Working with Employers – Workplace Success Quick Reference Guide
This guide describes how to create successful work-based experiences for youth and their employers that foster adult employment success for all youth, particularly for those with disabilities.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info/quick-reference-guide/working-with-employers

Websites

Skills You Need
Whether you’re at work, a job seeker, a student, a teacher, or a parent, or you’re just interested in developing your key skills, you will find plenty of information here about essential life skills.
Source:
Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability – Youth
NCWD/Youth is a source for information about employment and youth with disabilities. Partners — experts in disability, education, employment, and workforce development — provide high quality, relevant information.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info

Dyslexia Help
A project of the University of Michigan, this website is designed to help you understand and learn about dyslexia and language disability.
Source:
University of Michigan
Link: dyslexiahelp.umich.edu

VR4 Hearing Loss: Everything You Want to Hear
This website will help orient VR professionals to the range of needs and possible services for persons who are hard of hearing or late deafened. These services lead to enhanced workplace success and improved quality of life for consumers. Developed in 2012 under a grant from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) & University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Source:
VR Hearing Loss
Link: vr4hearingloss.net

 

SECTION 4: Suggested Advance Preparation for Students

The following advanced reading assignments and video excerpts can be assigned to students to prepare them for learning about Disclosure, Self-Identification, and Discussing Your Disability

Readings

How to Use Your Transferrable Skills to Make Yourself Irresistible to Employers
Source: Brazen.com (Blog)
Link: www.brazen.com/blog/archive/job-search/use-transferrable-skills-make-irresistible-employers

List of Soft Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
Source: The Balance
Link: www.thebalance.com/list-of-soft-skills-2063770

Top 10 Communication Skills for Workplace Success
Source: The Balance
Link: www.thebalance.com/communication-skills-list-2063779

Improving Communication Skills in Your Work and Personal Relationships
Source: The PACER Center
Link: www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/effective-communication.htm

Dyslexia Help
A project of the University of Michigan, this website is designed to help you understand and learn about dyslexia and language disability.
Source:
University of Michigan
Link: dyslexiahelp.umich.edu

Dyslexia Help: Stay Organized & Manage Your Time
Source: University of Michigan
Link: dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/tips-organization-time-management

ADDitude Magazine
Strategies and support for people with LD, ADD, and ADHD
Link: www.additudemag.com

Strategies for Managing Time and Money
Source: ADDitude Magazine
Link:
www.additudemag.com

Resources for College Students and Young Adults with ADD
Source: ADDitude Magazine
Link:
www.additudemag.com

Assisting Students with Disabilities
Check out the sidebar on this webpage for resources that help college students improve specific soft skills.
Source:
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
Link: www.uwec.edu/equity-diversity-inclusion/edi-services-programs/services-for-students-with-disabilities/

Skills You Need
Whether you already have a job, or are a job seeker, student, teacher, or parent, or just interested in developing your key skills, you will find plenty of information here about essential life skills.
Source:
Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com

Improving Communication: Developing Effective Communication Skills
Source: Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/improving-communication.html

Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills
Source: Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/conflict-and-mediation.html

Websites

Skills You Need
Whether you’re at work, a job seeker, a student, a teacher, or a parent, or you’re just interested in developing your key skills, you will find plenty of information here about essential life skills.
Source:
Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability – Youth
NCWD/Youth is a source for information about employment and youth with disabilities. Partners — experts in disability, education, employment, and workforce development — provide high quality, relevant information.
Source:
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD)
Link: www.ncwd-youth.info

 

SECTION 5: Presentation

Pre-Module for the Training Facilitator:

Facilitator Note: There are certain skills needed to do a job, such as operating a machine or using a computer program. These are called “hard skills” because you will have to have these skills in order to do the specific job. Also, there are “soft skills” that are more general and useful across different jobs that make the workplace more productive and help people to work more smoothly. What do you think some of these soft skills in the workplace might be? Let’s make a list of what we think of as soft skills. (Save this list for an activity at the end of this module.)

Today we are going to learn about soft skills in the workplace, and how these soft skills contribute to success on the job.

Facilitator Note: Use the Module 6 PowerPoint slides, Pathways to Careers… Skills for Successful Employment.

Module 6 PowerPoint slides, Pathways to Careers… Skills for Successful Employment

Slide 1 – Pathways to Careers…. Skills for Successful Employment

Slide 1 Notes – Pathways to Careers…. Skills for Successful Employment

Objective: The student will learn about Skills for Successful Employment

Facilitator Talking Points:

Today we are going to learn about Skills for Successful Employment

 

 

Slide 2 – “Hard” Skills on the Job

Slide 2 Notes – “Hard” Skills on the Job

Objective: The student will learn the basic definitions of hard skills.

Facilitator Talking Points:

Unless you have experience doing a particular job, the first thing that will happen is you will be trained how to do the work.

If you have been hired to change oil in a car, for instance, someone will show you the steps you follow to do that job.

If you have been hired to operate a piece of equipment, someone will have to show you how to operate that machine.

These are called “hard skills”. They are the things we need to know to do a job. We learn hard skills in many different ways. Sometimes we have a trainer who will show us how to do a job. This is often called formal training. Other times, we may have a co-worker show us how to do something — that is informal training.

Slide 3 – “Soft” Skills on the Job

Slide 3 Notes – “Soft” Skills on the Job

Objective: The student will learn the basic definitions of soft skills.

Facilitator Talking Points:

Hard skills are pretty straight forward, but there are other skills, called soft skills, that you need to learn. Soft skills are hard to define and not as easy to learn as hard skills.

Soft skills include how to work as a team and how to get along with other people, including your co-workers.

Soft skills are things like being on time for work. This includes what time should I set my alarm or what time does the bus come?

Soft skills include finding answers to problems. This includes knowing when to ask for help. For instance, what do I do if I oversleep? What do I do if I miss the bus?

Employers agree that the two things they look for in a good employee are people who arrive on time and can work in a team. What do you think it means to work as part of a team?

Prompts include listening to others, being respectful of other opinions, not to become angry when things do not go your way, being friendly, and sharing your ideas about how to do things better.

Slide 4 – #1 Work is Important.

Slide 4 Notes – #1 Work is Important.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regards to responsibility.

Facilitator Talking Points:

Let’s talk about some of the most important soft skills. The first skill is to understand the importance of work and value the work we do. An employer pays us because we do something that benefits the business. The employer values the work we do. We should always appreciate the opportunity to work and earn a wage. Some ways we do this is by:

  1. Arriving on time to work. The movie director, Woody Allen once said, “80% of success in life is showing up.” You should always do your best to be on time and go to work. You should also have a backup plan in case your transportation does not always work out. Let’s face it, cars break down or sometimes we oversleep and miss the bus. You should have a plan for when these things happen.
  2. Sometimes a school or business will have a “dress code.” A dress code contains rules about what you should wear to work. This can be tricky because a dress code is not always easy to recognize and often it is not written down. As a rule, you should wear clean clothes that are similar to what other people at work are wearing. When you start a new job, it is always a good idea to notice what people at the business are wearing. If blue jeans and polo shirts are what others are wearing, then that would be ok. However, if the dress code requires employees to wear dress pants and button-down shirts then wearing jeans and a polo would not be appropriate. It is always a good idea to ask your boss about what you are expected to wear. You should always wear clean clothes to work. Dress codes might also include rules about body art (tattoos) and body piercings. During an interview for a new job, you should cover your body art and remove piercings that might be distracting. The focus should be on why you would be a good employee, not on your body art or piercing. If you have tattoos that are visible when you wear certain clothes, it would be a good idea to let the person you interview with know and ask if the business has a policy on body art. If you have piercings, other than your ears, you should ask if your piercings are ok for work.
  3. Do your best every day. Since your employer is paying you for the work you do, it is important that we do the best job we can. There may be times when a co-worker might try to get you to skip work or goof around rather than getting your work done. Sometimes, we might have to stand up to our friends if they try to get us to do something we know is wrong. That can be a hard thing to do.
  4. You should always be honest. Employers will understand that sometimes the bus runs late or you oversleep. Lying about things like this is never a good idea. Also, you should never steal from an employer. A work relationship between an employer and employee is based on trust. Stealing from your job hurts the business and will hurt you. Stealing will also likely mean you will be fired. Being fired from a job will make it more difficult when you look for a new job.
  5. All of these things add up to being responsible. As you grow up and take on new roles, you have new responsibilities. When you take on new responsibilities, you become trusted to take on new and exciting things.

Slide 5 – #2 Working Together as a Team is Important.

Slide 5 Notes – #2 Working Together as a Team is Important.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regard to teamwork. (Teamwork)

Facilitator Talking Points:

Whenever you are working with others you are expected to work as part of a team. Being part of a team means the entire group is working toward a goal. The goal may be a short-term goal like getting a task done in a day or a week or it could be a long-term goal that could take months or years.

Achieving a big goal always involves successfully completing several short-term goals. Smaller, short-term goals are steps to completing your big goal. A basketball team is a good example of a team. If each person is doing his or her own thing and not playing together, the team likely will not win. But, when team members plan a strategy (or a play) and everybody is involved, then the team will score.

A short-term goal is winning the game. A long-term goal is winning a season championship. Everybody on the team has to get along together to work toward the goal.

Like the cat and dog in the picture on this slide. The cat cannot get to the water alone but when the dog and cat work together they reach their goal.

Each member of the team has a gift or skill they bring to the team. The cat is too short to get to the water but the dog is taller. That is a gift he brought to the team.

In working together, teams have to communicate. This involves both sharing your ideas, but also listening to the ideas of others.

Slide 6 – #3 Communication is Key to the Workplace.

Slide 6 Notes – #3 Communication is Key to the Workplace.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regard to communication.

Facilitator Talking Points:

I mentioned in the last slide that a team works best when members share ideas and listen to each other. This is called communication. Communication can be done in many ways.

There are many ways people communicate.

People, for instance, who are deaf or hard of hearing may use sign language to communicate.

We also communicate by writing things down. This includes emails, text messages, or it might be a big report.

Signs and pictures also communicate things to us. Dangerous areas, for instance, will be marked with a warning sign. Pictures also communicate messages to people.

Also, the way we sit or the eye contact we make or do not make communicates messages. Often, we do not even realize we are communicating. Crossing our legs and folding our arms over our chest may mean we are being defensive. If you bite your nails, you may be nervous or unsure. Standing up straight shows you are confident.

In order to get an accommodation, you need to be able to speak up for yourself. It is important to tell an employer or college that you have a disability in order to get an accommodation. Accommodations allow you an equal opportunity to be successful.

Being a good self-advocate takes practice. You will have to ask for what you need and stick to the point. Sometimes people will try to change your mind. They may not really listen to you. They may not think your opinion is important. You, more than anybody, know what is best for you. Do not give up!

Slide 7 – #4 Having a Good Attitude at Work Helps Everyone.

Slide 7 Notes – #4 Having a Good Attitude at Work Helps Everyone.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regard to one’s attitude. (Attitude).

Facilitator Talking Points:

Attitude is everything! I cannot say it enough. People who are cheerful and willing to help others are thought of positively by others. Encouraging others with whom you work or live with can have a tremendous effect on how they feel about themselves and how you feel about yourself. Working with other people in a positive way is one way to display good teamwork. People who get along with each other and work towards a common goal make good team members.

Another important soft skill involves displaying the willingness to try new tasks or new ways of doing things. Employers think positively of employees when they are willing to learn new jobs.

Slide 8– #5 Being Organized Allows You to Do Your Job Well.

Slide 8 Notes – #5 Being Organized Allows You to Do Your Job Well.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regard to organization.

Facilitator Talking Points:

Employers like it when employees are productive. The best way to be productive is to be organized in your work. This is a skill you likely have been working on all through school. In order to get your homework submitted on time, you have to be organized.

Being organized includes setting aside time to do the work. It also involves knowing where to find the supplies that you need to do the work. It is frustrating to sit down to do your homework when you cannot find a pencil!

Today, many people have become obsessed with looking at screens. Many stop to look at their phones or are tempted to open social media “just for a minute.” The problem is we lose focus on our work tasks; a quick look can easily turn into a half hour of unproductive time.

Writing down deadlines on calendars is a good way to stay organized. That way you know when things are due. Some people like to make lists.

Making lists is a good way to remember what needs to be done when you are working.

Finally, always put things away when you are done with them. Doing this will allow you to know where something is when you need it again. It will also be appreciated by co-workers who may need the materials for their own use.

 

 

Slide 9 – #6 Learn to Solve Problems.

Slide 9 Notes – #6 Learn to Solve Problems.

Objective: The student will learn about soft skills that are essential to job success with regard to solving problems.

Facilitator Talking Points:

We cannot expect things to run smoothly all the time. Machines break. Co-workers get sick. Sometimes our jobs change to meet new challenges at work. An important soft skill involves being able to adjust to these changes. Change can be hard for anybody. Sometimes, you may not have any warning that things are changing. It is important that you do not become frustrated when the change happens.

It is a good idea to ask questions when change happens. The more you know the easier the change will be. You can also rely on your co-workers to help; they are part of your team.

During times of change, always strive to be optimistic. Keeping a positive attitude is important. Try not to get down on yourself or feel discouraged.

Everyone with whom you work is affected by change as well. If you work together the change will be easier for everybody.

Post Module for the Training Facilitator:

Facilitator Note: After you have completed the PowerPoint and learning activities, summarize the session(s) with the group. From the Pre-Module activity, post the list of skills for successful employment and ask the group what they would like to add to the list.

“Now that we have learned about soft skills in the workplace, let’s go back and look at our original list to see if we can add anything. Can you think of any soft skills that are missing from our list?” (Use a different color to add to the list or note the additions to the list in a similar way.)

 

 

SECTION 6: Learning Activities

For the Training Facilitator:

Facilitator Note: Learning activities have been designed to reinforce the content from the PowerPoint presentation. A menu of activities has been provided. You may choose one or more activities based upon the time that you have to present the material and upon the needs of the students. For each interactive activity designed to reinforce the content from the PowerPoint presentation, suggested time frames are included below. Please keep in mind the age of your youth as well as the individual skill levels and specific disabilities to allow time frames that are appropriate for your group.

Activity #1: Group Discussion

Facilitator Note: Please allow time frames for these discussions and activities that are appropriate for the size of the group and the nature of the makeup of the group. Please be flexible if the discussion or the sharing is productive, and the participants are actively engaged.

Activity: “Let’s Work Together!”

Facilitator Script: “In the workplace, we often work as a team to get the job done. What are some soft skills that will help you to work as a member of a team? Let’s see how many soft skills we can name that will help us with teamwork on the job.”

Facilitator Note: Reinforce responses such as sharing ideas, paying attention to verbal and nonverbal communication, being organized, adapting to change, adjusting to different situations, solving problems, respecting others, being willing to help others, cooperating with others, listening to others, having a positive attitude, taking on new tasks, encouraging others, being on time, etc.

 

 

Activity #2 Art Projects & Musical Expression

Art Projects

Facilitator Note: If your group is especially engaged by art activities, such as drawing, painting, collages, murals, etc., you might use art materials to do the following. Please keep in mind the age of your youth as well as the individual skill levels and specific disabilities to allow time frames that are appropriate for your group. If you have members of your group who will have difficulty manipulating art materials, such as a youth who has difficulty using scissors due to limited hand dexterity, consider working in partners or small groups.

If your group is made up of students with varying levels of vision loss, consider having students with low vision work as partners or in small groups with students with total vision loss. Using materials such as magazines, advertising flyers, brochures, pamphlets, etc., have the students with low vision audio describe the pictures and words that the partners or small groups might decide to use in a collage or mural. If your group is made up of students with total vision loss, consider using the Musical Expression activity with your group.

Activity 2A: “Teamwork: Our Story in a Mural”

Time: 15 or more minutes

Facilitator Note: Divide the group into three teams of six or more individuals each. Give each team a large piece of paper and some assorted art supplies. Each team will decide on a story to tell on their mural. Two or more team members will be responsible for the beginning of the story on the first large piece of paper. Two additional team members will be responsible for the middle of the story on the second piece of paper. The remaining two team members will be responsible for the ending of the story on the third piece of paper.

To tell their story, the team members can use drawings, words, or pictures cut from magazines, cartoons, symbols, etc. The only rule is that the team must work together to tell the beginning, middle and end of their story, with at least two team members working together on each large piece of paper. When the teams are finished or when time is called, display all three panels of the team’s story on the wall to create a mural. Let each team share their mural’s story.

When each team has had a chance to share about their mural, ask the question, “What soft skills did your team use to get the job done to create your mural?” (Reinforce responses that identify soft skills as listed above.)

Activity 2B: “Teamwork: Our Message in a Collage”

Time: 15 or more minutes
Facilitator Note: Divide the group into teams of three or four individuals each. Provide each team with a large piece of paper and art materials including reading materials to be deconstructed (e.g., magazines, newspapers, flyers, etc.). Also include drawing paper, construction paper, scissors, and glue sticks. Each team will create a collage that has a message about one of the topics below, or a topic chosen by the team. Each member of the team must place something on the collage. The items could be words, symbols, drawings, cartoons, pictures, or words torn or cut from the reading materials.
Possible topics for the message in the collage might be:

  • Entertainment
  • Transportation
  • Working
  • Social Media

When the teams are finished or when time is called, let each team share the team’s message in their collage.

When each team has had a chance to share about their collage, ask the question, “What soft skills did your team use to get the job done to create your collage?” (Reinforce responses that identify soft skills as listed above.)

Musical Expression

Facilitator Note: If your group is engaged by musical expression, you might want to use activities such as singing, simple musical instruments, percussion instruments, drumming, etc. The activity of drumming can be done using plastic buckets or containers or using hands on tabletops. Please keep in mind the age of your students as well as the individual skill levels and specific disabilities to allow time frames that are appropriate for your group.

Activity 2c: “Building a Musical Story”

Time: 10 or more minutes
Facilitator Note: Using any object as the “Musical Wand,” each person in the circle or group can only “perform” when that person has possession of the Musical Wand. The first person who receives the Musical Wand sings one or more thoughts or sentences that begin the story. Then the first-person hands off the Musical Wand to any other person in the circle or group, and the second person has to quickly sing one or more thoughts or sentences to continue to build the musical story to tell what happens next. Then the second person hands off the Musical Wand to anyone else in the circle or group, and the third person must continue to build the musical story in the same way. Continue to give everyone a turn to contribute to the musical story or continue until the musical story seems to have arrived at an ending. If time permits, start all over with a new member of the circle or group who would like to sing a beginning to a new musical story.

Facilitator Note: When the group has finished the Building a Musical Story activity, ask the question, “What soft skills did you use during this activity to get the job done to build your musical story?” (Reinforce responses that identify soft skills as listed above.)

 

 

Activity #3 Dramatic Arts

Facilitator Note: If your group is especially engaged by dramatic arts, such as role plays, skits, improvisation, etc., you might use dramatic arts activities.

Activity 3A: “Teamwork: Building a Tall Tale”

Time: 10—15 minutes
Facilitator Note: Create a “Talking Stick” using any convenient object, such as a ballpoint pen, an eraser, a paint brush, or any interesting or unique object. Form teams of 6 to 8 members. Have each team make a small circle in the front of the room when it is their turn to build their story. When the facilitator hands the Talking Stick to someone in the team, that person must begin telling a story. When the Facilitator calls “Pass,” the Talking Stick must be quickly passed to another team member who continues to build the story starting from where the previous team member ended. The rule is that each team member must have a first turn with the Talking Stick before anyone gets a second turn. Each time the Facilitator calls “Pass,” the Talking Stick must be quickly passed to another team member, and the story must keep going.

When time is called or if the team finishes the story, ask the following questions:

  • What soft skills did you use with your team to build your story?
  • How were you listening to your team members, and what were you listening for?

Activity 3B: “There Are No Words for This!”

Time: 10—15 minutes
Facilitator Note: Ask the question, “What are some examples of nonverbal communication?” Make a list of their responses to post in front of the group. Include responses such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, body movements, eye contact, touch, physical space, etc.

Facilitator Script: “Nonverbal communication often tells how a person is feeling without using any words. We are going to draw a feeling from this hat, and then act out that feeling using only nonverbal communication.” This will be similar to the game “Charades” or “Pictionary.”

Using index cards or slips of paper, put the following words that you would like to use on a separate index card or slip of paper. Put the cards or papers in a hat, bag, box, or similar container to allow each person to draw out a word. The person will act out this word. The rule is that each person has to act out the word by using nonverbal communication. There are no words or verbal communication allowed. Use any words from the following list:

AfraidFrustratedSad
AngryHappyScared
AnxiousInterestedShocked
BoredJealousShy
ConfusedLonelyStressed
ContentOffendedSurprised
CuriousOverwhelmedThankful
ExcitedProudWorried

 

Facilitator Note: If you feel that the members of your group would be more comfortable acting out the nonverbal communication in a small group rather than in front of the whole group, please form groups of 3 to 4 people. Have one person in each group draw from the hat and start when you say, “Go!” Once the nonverbal communication is correctly identified, another person in each group draws from the hat and acts out the nonverbal communication until everyone has had a turn or time is called.

Remember: There are no words or verbal communication for this activity!

Activity 3C: “Communication Is a Two-Way Skill”

Time: 10—15 minutes
Facilitator Note: Working in pairs, have each partner choose one of the characters in the scenarios below. The partners need to create a skit to try and resolve the problem. Remind the partners to ask questions to clarify what the other person means, and to be specific in both requesting and giving information.

Scenario #1: Sarah and Her Grooming Job

Sarah has a job bathing and grooming dogs. She has several customers. Today, she is going to Ms. Zee’s house to groom her large collie, Cupcake.

When Sarah arrives, Ms. Zee is in a terrible mood. Ms. Zee complains, “You’re late!” Actually, Sarah is on time. “You didn’t do a very good job with Cupcake last week! I think she looked terrible! A real mess!”

  • What can Sarah do to make this situation better?
  • What specific information should Sarah request in order to better understand why Ms. Zee is so upset?
  • How can Sarah find out what went wrong?
  • How can Sarah fix the problem?

Scenario #2: Antonio and His After-school job

Antonio has an after-school job stocking shelves at the grocery store. He has to rush to get to work on time and he is often late. Today, his supervisor, Ms. Tee, meets Antonio as he rushes in. She says, “You’re late again! Antonio, you are 15 minutes late today. You are scheduled to work for 4 hours after school, but you are often not here to start on time. What are we going to do about this?”

  • How can Antonio fix this problem?
  • What can Antonio request so that he can still do his job?
  • What should Ms. Tee ask of Antonio in the future?
  • What will make both Antonio and Ms. Tee feel like the problem has been resolved?

Facilitator Note: After 3-5 minutes have been used for the partners to create a skit, have each pair act out their skit for the group. Reinforce the importance of communication skills as each pair shares their skit with the group.

 

Activity#4 Role Models

Facilitator Note: For young people with disabilities, it is very important to identify with role models who are people with disabilities living independently in the community. Sources for finding role models that may serve as guest speakers in class include:

Activity 4A: “And Now, A Word from the Real World”

Time: 5–15 minutes
Facilitator Note
: Invite a speaker or a small panel of 2 to 4 people with disabilities to briefly share about their job and the importance of soft skills in the workplace. Encourage the speaker or the panel to share examples from their day-to-day job routine that show how they rely on the use of soft skills in the workplace. Then allow time for the group to ask questions and dialogue with the role model(s).

Activity 4B: Virtual Reality—”A Word from the Real World”

Time: 5 – 15 minutes

Facilitator Note: Using Zoom or a similar platform, invite a speaker or a small panel of 2 to 4 people with disabilities to briefly share about their job and the importance of soft skills in the workplace. Encourage the speaker or the panel to share examples from their day-to-day job routine that show how they rely on the use of soft skills in the workplace. Then allow time for the group to ask questions and dialogue with the role model(s).

SECTION 7: Handouts or Materials Needed

  • Audiovisual equipment for PowerPoint presentation and/or videos.
  • Art materials, blank paper, colored pencils or markers.
  • Photocopies of PowerPoint slides, including alternate formats such as large print, Braille, and electronic formats such as a USB drive for students with visual or print disabilities.

SECTION 8: After Class

Homework Possibilities

Interview a person who is working in the community. Ask the following question.

  • Besides the technical skills that you use to do the duties of your job, what are 3 of the “soft skills” that you think are the most important on your job

For example, soft skills include being organized, solving problems, being on time, listening to others, working as a team, communicating with others effectively, sharing ideas, treating people with respect, etc. You might want to make a list of soft skills to take with you in case the person you are interviewing asks you what you mean by “soft skills.”

During our next session, we will share our lists of the most important soft skills identified in these interviews.

Facilitator Note: You may wish to identify several people in the community who would be willing to assist with this homework assignment. Refer to Section 9 – Community Organizations for possible contacts. Students may also want to interview someone they know such as a family member or friend. The contacts for the exercise may be people with and without disabilities.

Quiz Questions

Use these quiz questions to reinforce learning by giving this pop quiz at the end of class, as a homework assignment, or at the beginning of the next class session. Correct answers are noted with an asterisk (*).

  1. The term hard skills refers to skills that are hard to learn.
  • Yes
  • No*
  1. Being on time for work is an example of a soft skill.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Respecting the opinions of others is an example of teamwork.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Speaking is the only way we communicate.
  • Yes
  • No*
  1. People like to be around individuals who are willing to help other people.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Making a list of things you need to do is a way for you to be organized.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Being willing to try new things is important on the job.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Working as part of a team means working together to get a job done.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. A good soft skill involves controlling our emotions.
  • Yes*
  • No
  1. Keeping organized is a soft skill.
  • Yes*
  • No

SECTION 9: Resources for Students

Additional Reading and Videos

Dyslexia Help
A project of the University of Michigan, this website is designed to help you understand and learn about dyslexia and language disability.
Source:
University of Michigan
Link: dyslexiahelp.umich.edu

Dyslexia Help: Stay Organized & Manage Your Time
Source: University of Michigan
Link: dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/tips-organization-time-management

ADDitude Magazine
Strategies and support for people with LD, ADD, and ADHD
Link: www.additudemag.com

Strategies for Managing Time and Money
Source: ADDitude Magazine
Link:
www.additudemag.com

Resources for College Students and Young Adults with ADD
Source: ADDitude Magazine
Link:
www.additudemag.com

Assisting Students with Disabilities
Check out the sidebar on this webpage for resources that help college students improve specific soft skills.
Source:
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
Link: www.uwec.edu/equity-diversity-inclusion/edi-services-programs/services-for-students-with-disabilities/

Skills You Need
Whether you already have a job, or are a job seeker, student, teacher, or parent, or just interested in developing your key skills, you will find plenty of information here about essential life skills.
Source:
Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com

Improving Communication: Developing Effective Communication Skills
Source: Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/improving-communication.html

Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills
Source: Skills You Need – Helping You Develop Life Skills
Link: www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/conflict-and-mediation.html

Americans with Disabilities Act Information Center

ADA National Network

Phone: 1-800-949-4232 (toll free)

Website: adata.org

Facebook: facebook.com/adanetwork

Twitter: twitter.com/ADANational

National Resources

Community Organizations

The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
Link: www.april-rur

Scroll to Top