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Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, Grades 4-12

Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, Grades 4-12
Step-by-Step Lessons for Respect, Responsibility, and Results

35 Projectable Lessons!, With Illustrations by Satya Moses

Additional resources:

August 2014 | 248 pages | Corwin

NEWS FLASH:  A major meta-analysis of 213 studies showed an average 11 percent gain in academic performance for kids receiving explicit social-academic learning instruction.

Turns out this “soft stuff” about creating a culture of respect and rapport yields hard and fast gains, and that’s no surprise to collaboration “gurus” Harvey “Smokey” Daniels and Nancy Steineke. Now, these authors share a yearlong plan for helping you build powerful and binding peer-to-peer interactions. The added bonus:  Your kids will meet speaking and listening standards, while you score better on classroom-engagement rubrics.

Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction taps the instructional power of slides, full-color illustrations, and super succinct directions to teach both the language and the behaviors of working effectively with others. These 35 lessons take your kids on a carefully paced upward spiral of collaboration, with explicit coaching on how to speak, listen, argue, persuade—and get along. Here’s the best part: You model and your students practice these social skills with the content of your curriculum, not in disconnected add-on exercises.  

For each lesson, there are six to 25 slides that focus on one vital academic-social skill; step-by-step teaching tips are in the lie-flat planning book. The sequence looks mostly like this:

  • The first slides introduce the skill—like being a good partner or arguing both sides of a controversial topic—then explain its value.
  • The next slides help model the skill in action, using whatever curricular topic you happen to be teaching.
  • Now, kids’ active thinking is invited as you co-create strategies to enhance use of the target social-academic skill.
  • Additional slides help kids practice the skill using your curricular content as you monitor and support.
  •  Lessons end with a debriefing to solidify new understandings.

Any way you look at Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, it’s a win-win. Your students realize better engagement in curriculum topics, higher performance, and social skills to last a lifetime. That’s really college and career ready! And our schools become safer harbors, where students know one another, respect one another, and learn together.

Longtime collaborators themselves, HARVEY “SMOKEY” DANIELS and NANCY STEINEKE have written six books together and are regular co-presenters at all the major literacy conferences. Both are former public school teachers who now work as national consultants, helping schools and districts to create friendly, supportive, and collaborative climates for young people. 

For an author-led walk-through of Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, visit

Part I. Social-Academic Skills: The Missing Link
Chapter 1. The Problem and the Opportunity
Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Engagement

What's Been Missing in School Reform

Why We Must Teach Social-Academic Skills Now

How to Address These Problems and Seize the Opportunities

All Social Skills Programs Are Not Alike

Our Theory of Action

Chapter 2. Theory and Research on Social-Academic Skills Training
Research Base


Starting With a Partner

Building a Community of Acquaintance

Building a Community of Respect, Inclusion, and Gratefulness

Taking Personal Responsibility

Teaching Interpersonal Skills Explicitly

Stages of Learning Social Skills

Positive Interdependence

Reflection and Celebration

The Bottom Line

Chapter 3. How to Use This Resource

A Guide to the Slides

Structure of the Lessons

Order of the Lessons

The Tips

Assessment and Grading

Trouble-Shooting Questions

Part II. Lessons for Building Social-Academic Skills
Chapter 4. Getting Acquainted
Lesson 1. Forming Partners

Lesson 2. Interviewing Your Partner

Lesson 3. Home Court Advantage

Lesson 4. Friendliness and Support

Lesson 5. Classroom Climate Posters

Chapter 5. Building Collaboration Skills
Lesson 6. Quiet Signal

Lesson 7. Using Quiet Voices

Lesson 8. Asking Follow-Up Questions

Lesson 9. Think-Pair-Share

Lesson 10. Good Partner Traits

Chapter 6. Advanced Partner Work
Lesson 11. Active Listening

Lesson 12. Extending Conversation

Lesson 13. Expanding Acquaintance With an Appointment Clock

Lesson 14. Mingle Jigsaw

Chapter 7. Moving Into Small Groups
Lesson 15. Group Membership Grid Interviews

Lesson 16. Sharing the Air

Lesson 17. Saving the Last Word

Lesson 18. Write-Arounds

Lesson 19. Gallery Walk

Chapter 8. Ongoing Discussion Groups
Lesson 20. Establishing Group Ground Rules

Lesson 21. Overcoming Off-Task Triggers

Lesson 22. Goal Setting for Group Improvement

Lesson 23. Reinforcing Collaboration With Table Cards

Lesson 24. Compliment Cards

Chapter 9. Arguing Agreeably
Lesson 25. Text Nuggets: Finding Evidence

Lesson 26. Human Continuum

Lesson 27. Where Do You Stand?

Lesson 28. Hearing Everyone's Ideas First

Lesson 29. Arguing Both Sides

Lesson 30. Civilized Disagreement

Chapter 10. Small-Group Projects
Lesson 31. Developing an Assessment Rubric

Lesson 32. Planning Group Projects

Lesson 33. Keeping Individual Project Logs

Lesson 34. Midcourse Corrections

Lesson 35. Being an Attentive Audience Member

Appointment Clock

Membership Grid

Group Meeting Procedures

Thin-Crust Cheese Pizza Rubric

Project Rubric

Group Work Plan Form

Individual Group Member Work Plan Form

References and Further Readings
About the Artist


"Collaboration and cooperation do not emerge magically. We must explicitly teach kids the social strategies of collaborative behavior: to listen attentively, ask follow up questions, and disagree agreeably. Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction does exactly that. Through a series of engaging slides, lessons, and activities, kids learn and practice important SEL strategies that will lead to more learning, greater achievement, and an inviting and fun classroom environment where kids work collaboratively, independently and develop a sense of agency. . . . Teachers need it and will love it, but more importantly, so will kids!” 

STEPHANIE HARVEY, Coauthor of The Comprehension Toolkit

 “Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction recognizes the importance of establishing an emotionally healthy classroom---a classroom where students have been taught to manage their emotions, to build relationships, and to work effectively with one another. The easy-to-use lessons in this book connect with students by giving them more responsibility, more control, and more choice. As Daniels and Steineke say, the best classrooms are those in which students are treated like the people they want to become. This book helps teachers to build those classrooms. I highly recommend it.”

KELLY GALLAGHER, Author of Write Like This

"Harvey 'Smokey' Daniels and Nancy Steineke write with humor and common sense about the challenges of bringing a diversity of students into harmony each school year. . . . This book holds the research and the tools to change the way classrooms operate. With 35 lessons (one for each week of school) and the systematic guidance of thoughtful, smart colleagues to explain the importance and likely obstacles to each lesson, teachers will learn to guide student groups in productive, dynamic ways.”

PENNY KITTLE, Author of Book Love

 “Do you cringe when it’s time for small-group work? Do you find that work time gets too unruly when students have a chance to discuss with partners? If so, you need this book. Smokey and Nancy, the king and queen of conversation, guide teachers in setting up systems and structures that allow for purposeful talk to happen in the classroom. Teachers pondering how to prepare students for the CCSS speaking and listening standards and, more importantly, as effective communicators for the world outside of school will truly appreciate all this book has to offer.”

CRIS TOVANI, Author of So What Do They Really Know?

“Group work no longer begins and ends in the classroom—it’s a reality—a life skill. My favorite part about the book is that it works with whatever content you’re teaching. The lessons are focused on the students’ interactions while the content of the work is reflective of what is happening in the classroom. So it’s not ‘another’ thing to do on your already long list of things to teach. Clever and creative, this is a valuable resource for teachers of all disciplines.”

AIMEE BUCKNER, Author of Notebook Know-How

Sample Materials & Chapters

Lesson 12_Extend_Convo.pps

Daniels Lesson 12

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ISBN: 9781483320311

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