Monday, December 3, 2012

Don't Squeal Unless it's a Big Deal

Do any of you have problems with tattling?  I have a student who tattles all them time for everything...and gets super emotional about everything too!  And to be honest, I think about half the time, he is getting kids in trouble on purpose so he can tattle.  For instance, last week I saw him step in front of a kid (who has problems with his vision) so that he would get bumped into.  Then he instantly tattled to me that the other kid pushed him.  Hmm...I'm thinking this is a combination of a couple things.  First of all, I'm assuming some of these behaviors are serving the function of wanting attention.  Also, I'm thinking this student doesn't have the skills to know how to 1) problem solve with other kids and 2) how to ask appropriately for attention.

If you work in special ed, I'm sure you have seen this over and over.  So many of our kids are lacking in basic social skills and the only way for them learn these skills is through explicitly teaching each skill, providing tons of practice opportunities, and of course lots of reinforcement! 

So this past week, I started a little mini-unit with 2 students who tattle often.  We read this book about tattling.  The two kids I am working with had enough language to be able to understand what "tattling" means. 

When we finished reading the book, we brainstormed real life examples in our classroom when an issue is a "big deal" or a "little deal."  For instance, one example my kid came up with was that someone looking at him was not a big deal, but one of my other students stealing candy would be a big deal.  

Next, I had the two students talk about some things their classmates do that bug them.  We made a little list of these things since they are things they might want to tattle about.

 Lastly, we made a list of things they could do when a friend bugs them.  These cover things the kids can do on their own as well as how to get an adult to help them.  We actually wrote out the ideas on paper, but I later typed them up and added visuals so we can look at them on a daily basis.  I posted it in our room and put a copy in my students' individualized binders (by their daily schedule and calendar). 

 We read this book and did this mini-lesson in the morning.   That same afternoon when we were coming in from recess, one of my kids came up to me and said "I learned that from the book Don't Squeal Unless it's a Big Deal."  I asked what he was talking about and he told me a kid had been bothering him at recess, so he took a deep breath and told the boy to "please stop."  Woohoo!  Don't you just love when you see a skill you taught generalizes so quickly!!


  1. This is excellent! I love that you're doing "mini lessons" as well. my school is all about "mini lessons":) This is one that I can use with several of my students and hopefully it will be as successful as you!

    Thanks for the great idea

  2. Is there a way to post the 5 steps for when people bug you on TpT? That would be great

  3. Do you have the 5 steps for when people bug you on TPT

    1. It is not yet on TPT, so if you send me an email (, I will send it over to you.

  4. This visual as well as teaching activities to go with it are now available on TPT: