User Spotlight: Terese Manalansan


At SiLAS, we know how talented and passionate our users are. That is why we are committed to showcasing these amazing educators and how they’re using SiLAS to improve student learning!

This post’s User Spotlight is Terese Manalansan. Terese is a Speech Language Pathologist who supports students in both large and one-on-one integrated classroom settings at the Center for Lifelong Learning in New Jersey.

Below are Terese’s thoughts on SiLAS: 

  1. What was your first impression of SiLAS? 

My first impression of SiLAS was that finally a social skills program I can use with a lot of my students, because it covered so many bases from the basics to the advance. From building relationships to vocational settings. 

  1. How do your students/clients feel about SiLAS?

My students love SiLAS! They love role playing, acting out the comic strips and acting out situations though their avatars. They love the autonomy on changing their identity through their avatars; picking the backgrounds and situations their avatars will act in and they love hearing their voices through them.

  1. What component of the curriculum is your favorite? 

My favorite component is the flexibility of the lessons and the range of skills it can teach. Different students of different ages are able to benefit and learn from the lessons outlined. The support provided per lesson facilitates understanding of abstract social concepts that is typically difficult to teach.

  1. What has been your favorite SiLAS story or experience? 

A lot of my students come alive when using the Avatar feature of the program. On a regular basis they are frequently prompted to engage in conversation. They require prompting to initiate, and maintain a conversation and other social skills. Ryan, one of our students, particularly uses different voices and intonations to make his character come alive. Last year he won a pizza party for his classroom where his classmates were able to watch the movies they all made and Ryan’s winning entry. It was such a proud day for Ryan and the parents were also thrilled.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I look forward to more curriculum development in the future!


Teacher Tips!

Behavior is the most basic form of communication. When our students are unable to use words to express their thoughts and feelings, they instead act out in inappropriate ways. The most effective way to increase desired student behavior is to build relationships. Students who feel respected and heard are more likely to reciprocate the actions. Below are examples of strategies to increase your students’ success! 

Any Time Accommodations

  • Statements Not Questions: Many times when giving students directives, we ask the students in the form of a question instead of communicating the expectation through the use of a statement. You may have found yourself asking, “Would you like to go to math?” When we ask a student if they would like to follow a directive, we provide them with the opportunity to say “NO!” Instead state, “It is time for math.” 
  • Wait Time: As teachers, it is our nature to fill every moment with words. Silence tends to make individuals uncomfortable. Providing students “wait time” to comply with a directive or allow students the opportunity to answer a question relating to either their behavior or academic subject. Helpful examples; “I know you are upset. I will set the timer for two minutes, then we will talk.” 

Building Relationships

  • 2×10: Building relationships is the best way to increase positive outcomes with at risk students. A simple trick to assist in building relationships is the 2×10 strategy. Spend two minutes each day for 10 days in a row just talking with your student about anything…but school! 
  • Q-TIP: Most times, a student who is acting out knows your “buttons.” He or she knows exactly what to say or do in an attempt to escalate your behavior as well. An easy reminder, Q-TIP, Quick Taking it Personally. The more we can avoid engaging the student during the undesired behavior, the less the student will exhibit the behavior. 

Lights! Camera! Action! 

Now it is your turn to show us your positive behavior strategies in action!

  1. Choose an “Any Time Accommodation.” 
  2. In small groups or 1:1 with students, create a dialogue including the accommodation. 
  3. Submit your movie by Nov. 30th.
  4. The students that create the best movie will receive a pizza party.  The teacher/s will receive a $25 Amazon Card!

User Spotlight: Cari Neal

At SiLAS, we know how talented and passionate our users are. That is why we are committed to showcasing these amazing educators and how they’re using SiLAS to improve student learning!

This post’s User Spotlight is Cari Neal. Cari is a Special Education teacher for students with emotional/behavioral challenges at Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) in Huntington, Indiana.

Here are 5 questions with Cari Neal:

1) What were your first thoughts after seeing SiLAS?

Upon first seeing SiLAS, I knew it was something that would engage my students and allow for a great deal of flexibility to meet our needs. 

2) How are you using SiLAS with students?

Students participate in weekly lessons utilizing the SiLAS curriculum. After completing the lesson, students enjoy making animations. Animations are shared with others in a variety of ways. We have SiLAS Skills Showcase posters hanging in the hall of the school with QR codes for students to scan and view. We have hosted a SiLAS Celebration in which district leaders were invited to preview student animations from a variety of topics. Animations are uploaded to YouTube and links are sent out for parents to enjoy.

3) What do your students and parents think about SiLAS?

Students LOVE SiLAS and enjoy being the star of the show when we preview them as a class. Parents enjoy receiving the animations and being able to discuss with students what they have been learning. Parent sheets are now being utilized to send home as well.

4) What has been your favorite SiLAS story or experience? 

I have enjoyed seeing the students’ excitement when they are working on their SiLAS lessons. It is amazing to see them work together to create a final project.

5) What do you think other teachers should know about SiLAS?

The possibilities are endless with SiLAS. Just take the first step and give it a try.

Thank you to Cari for sharing the amazing ways he is using SiLAS in the classroom!