Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Game Changer

Tomorrow is a big day.  
School started last week, but it's been full of meetings and back-to-school business. 
I found all of my students and gave them hugs. 
I listened to the "what I did this summer" stories. 
 I took some baseline data, and I even made a schedule.
I wrote a few IEPs for my new students.
OH, and I moved into a new teeny tiny room and got it therapy ready.
I read student records and typed up tally sheets. 
I even wrote a lesson plan. 
I'm feeling quite accomplished but, 
tomorrow is the first day of real deal therapy. 

Tomorrow I will hunt and scavenge for my babies as they scurry off to PE or enrichment, and haul them back to my teeny tiny room. 
I will introduce myself to new faces and go over my rules catch up with the old faces.
OH and I will see if my schedule works. 
If you're an SLP you know the first day of running through the "first attempt" schedule is always.....
well, let's just say it's interesting. 

Then once the dust has settled, I will talk to my students about their baseline data (where appropriate), and we will BEGIN our therapy adventure together.  

For a long time, I felt like I was the one who was "all-in" when it came to those little boogers' progress.  I felt like therapy was something I was imposing on them. 
 I wanted them to be as invested in it as I was. 
Well, all of last year and some of the year before that, I've tried something new in articulation therapy.  I've been using this so so so simple but handy little tool that I created. 
I don't know why in tarnation I've never shared it here on my blog before.  
(as a side note....tarnation sure is a funny word...)

BUT I digress... 
Only one printed page has really changed things. 
Each student and I are a therapy team now. 
I changed the way I was doing things and it's changed everything. 

Don't laugh. It's not rocket science, but this was the game changer....

This little paper pinned to my bulletin board... it's not much....but it is.
My students are so much more self aware about their place in the articulation therapy process. 
They can talk about their progress and goals, and they can self-assess at a glance. 

Therapy doesn't start with an activity anymore.  It starts with the steps to good speech...

For new students, I explain to them where they are starting in the therapy process (which is usually at isolation at the bottom of the staircase) and the steps we will go through as they learn sounds in longer and longer chunks of speech . . until the ultimate goal of “graduation” (which they are all excited about until it actually happens and they realize they can no longer attend therapy :)  

Before each therapy session, students (along with my help if needed) identify which “step” they are on, and we discuss that day’s “learning target” which coincides with it.  Then we pin them up on my magnet board.  I write their names next to their targets also.  

I use "I will" statements, but I also have "I can" statements.  You can find my learning targets at HERE and HERE.  Sometimes we need to discuss that they may be on different steps for different sounds they are addressing in therapy.
Okay, so I bet you're wondering what I do for language, fluency, etc. students! 
I'm trying something similar, but that will be a blog post of its very own.  (Patience is a virtue:) 

After the session, we re-assess, and if that day’s progress resulted in moving on to a new step, we note and celebrate that milestone. This continuous self-assessment helps students to become more aware of their goals and motivates them to move up the staircase! They also come to realize which steps are more difficult than others.  My board is up and ready for them to write and add their A-HA moments and milestones on! (another fun way of boosting self-awareness in the little guys). By the way, you this board is just a piece of foam board from Hobby Lobby with fabric wrapped around it.  The "today is a great day to learn" download can be found HERE

This little visual has also made my little guys try harder!!  
Nobody likes getting stuck on a step for too long!  

It has also brought me some satisfaction knowing my students are invested in and knowledgeable of their therapy process.  I feel that my students and I have become more of a team - working together to improve their speech skills! 
If you want to try it, you can download it (for free!) HERE.

  Wanna know an other added bonus??? Administrators love that I am implementing self-assessment.  
It's also an easy way to explain the articulation therapy process to parents at IEP meetings and such. 

Hey, who knows.....maybe it could be a game changer for you, too! 

If you have a secret weapon that helps kids get "all in" I'd love to hear about it! 


  1. That chart is so stinkin' cute! I use something similar in my classroom and the kids are so serious about it! They LOVE getting to move up the chart.

  2. Thank you so much! I think even my littles will be able to understand this cute graphic!

  3. I love everything you do! Simply amazing!


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