Monday, September 28, 2015

The Toughest Crowd...

I'm teaming up with my friends, the Frenzied SLPs, to talk about materials and motivation for the toughest crowd I know - MIDDLE SCHOOLERS! 

I worked in a K-8 school for 12 years, and I work with 5th graders on a daily basis so I sort of know a thing or two about this hot topic. I blogged about it almost 2 years ago so please forgive any overlap :) 

When doing therapy with middle schoolers, it's all about making skills fun without insulting their intelligence or their pride (aka using baby stuff!) 


Time and time again I get requests for products older students- upper elementary, middle and high school.  Well, I try really hard not to make my blog into an advertisement for my products, but I wanted to let you know what kinds of things I use with my older students.  They happen to be perfect for middle schoolers! 

I think it's really important to find out what your middle schoolers love AND USE IT! Right now I'm pretty sure they all love their cell phones and text messaging, and I use that as much as possible in therapy.  Want students to be interested and invested?  Speak their language! Cater to their interests. Cross over to their world.

Here's a few of my products that do just that while addressing lots of language skills (and even carryover of articulation and fluency skills)  

I use my Reading and Responding, Interpreting Language & Much More packet ALL THE TIME. It uses actual text message conversations to work on reading for details, drawing conclusions, using context clues, making predictions and inferences, reading emotions and mood, and comparing/contrasting.  This one could easily be used all the way through high school with our language impaired students. 

Not to mention, it's a great way to discuss text message etiquette and appropriate conversations, etc.  

The very first product I ever put in my TpT store was Making Inferences/ Drawing Conclusions Role Play activity freebie and I still use the heck out of it- so much so that I made a sequel -  Making Inferences/ Drawing Conclusions Role Play Activity PART 2 . They are both easy activities that involve you having strategic but fake conversations on your cell phone to teach language skills. It's a great intro activity to the skills of making inferences/ drawing conclusions. Upper elementary and middle school students are required to read and making inferences but our students often need practice with skills solely in the verbal realm. Just whip out your smart phone and have at it- I promise your students will love it and beg for more making inferences!! 

And because I'm SERIOUS about using what motivates them...more text messages!! Now that you've introduced making inferences and drawing conclusions orally (and practiced the skill), it's time to move on to reading.  Ahhh the dreaded reading passages.  Kids hate 'em- especially our struggling readers.  What they don't hate is reading text messages.  For real. 

Text messages are short enough that they don't get frustrated trudging through them and they are relatable to our kids.  Because are relevant to them, they are also interested in them Let the teachers dole out the passages; I are keeping it real in the speech room.  This Making Inferences/Drawing Conclusions with Text Messages is one of my favorite activities for that. 

When we do have to get down to the nitty gritty and READ, I like to use short, high-interest passages.  Short but fun passages keep frustrations down, motivation up and allow us to get lots of reading done in our short therapy sessions.                                                                

When I couldn't find the types of passages I wanted, I started writing my own. I have many reading and responding packets in my TPT Store.  A couple of them that have really fun reading are Easter Around the World packet and Mardi Gras Reading & Responding packet.  

They contain 22 short non-fiction passages with strategic questions to require recalling information, comparing/contrasting, reading for details, sequencing, context clues, inferencing, predicting, main idea, and the list could go on forever. 

Oh, and the packets have a few lagniappe activities as well (for grammar, writing or just plain fun).    Lagniappe is just another word for bonus / extra  here in Cajun country, y'all.   

When November arrives, I'll be using a non-fiction packet about the history of Thanksgiving (just the weird parts of history that middle schoolers tend to like) and funky facts about turkeys and football.  It actually keeps my students motivated to read;  I've used it in inclusion for many years.
I have one for just about every holiday.  The Lucky Charms, Christmas and Groundhog Day ones are big favorites with my older kids.  

 If you really want to delve into literacy with your students, try a novel!! For the past 2 years,  I have read My Louisiana Sky with my oldest students and they've really been into it.  You can even let them help choose the novel.  


I think if you're getting on their level and making learning fun, that will be motivation enough.  Getting to use their smart phones is even EXTRA motivation....let them text each other the answers to the questions you pose and then read each others' answers! Even better, let them take selfie videos explaining their answers and play the videos for the group. Let them post their therapy activites on instagram if they'd like.  Teaching main idea? Let them tell the main idea by making a hashtag for it! 

This year I bought these little owl scratch off reward tickets from Oriental Trading...

They're so easy to use! You just write the name of the prize on the scratch off card and hand them out as rewards.  Students scratch them with so much enthusiasm that you'd swear they were actual lottery tickets.  Some of my rewards include "pick the game," hot fries, skittles, "special request," hot cheetos, "listen to music in speech," an extra day of speech or a soft drink.

My students are NUTS for them! Now these owl ones are a little juvenile, but I saw that Amazon has a ton of scratch labels that you can just adhere to cardstock. I think these more sophisticated versions below would be very motivating for middle schoolers!

Check out all of the tips about middle school materials and motivators from my fellow bloggers by clinking on the links below.  We'd love if it YOU would link up, too, and share your words of wisdom.

For all of you working with this tough crowd, may the odds be ever in your favor!" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Practical Tips for Speech and Language Therapy in the Classroom

If you're a regular reader, you already know I hang out in classrooms a LOT! 
If you're new here, check out my previous blog posts about how I provide therapy in the general ed. classroom here, and here  :) 

Over the years I've found that there are lots of ways to make therapy in the classroom work for everyone involved! Here are a few ideas! 

1) Plan with your co-teacher(s) to implement learning stations.  Stations work great for topics that have multiple parts to teach such as genre, text features, story elements, parts of speech, types of poetry, types of figurative language, etc.  Plan ahead to use all of the educators in the classroom to each teach a skill involved in the lesson. For example, when 4th grade has to teach about genre, the gen. ed. teacher, special ed. teacher, and myself each teach about 1 or 2 genres.  We each set up a teaching station in the room with a short activity we've planned to teach those genres. Then we divide the students into 3 groups (or even 4 if the paraprofessional is in the room). The groups of students rotate through each of our stations for 10-15 minutes (using a timer!) I might teach about realistic fiction and historical fiction while the special ed. teacher teaches about fantasy and mystery.  Meanwhile the gen. ed teacher may do a mini lesson on fairy tales and fables. Each student in the room gets each mini lesson on genre and spend face-to-face quality time with each educator.  It really works! 

2) Strengthen student understanding of the weekly skill by giving it a speech and language twist!  Teachers use tons of text to teach and practice skills- especially ELA skills like main idea, context clues, inferencing, cause/effect, and so on. They require students to read and respond and express knowledge through writing. That text load and demand is often very difficult for our students. Well, we SLPs all know that they first must be able to listen/comprehend, respond and express knowledge orally before being able to do so along with the challenge of reading and writing.  Bring a twist to the classroom by teaching, practicing and assessing skills orally only.  If we can help our students be more successful (and confident) in doing that they will be more prepared to apply the skill once it's paired with text.  Using this strategy, I model and teach to the whole group, we practice altogether, and then I pair or group the students. I then give the groups or pairs an oral language task related to the weekly skill. Once that's in full swing, I work with the group or groups that contain my students.  As a wrap up, I often have each group present their ideas to the class...simply because, in my opinion, kids just don't get to express their knowledge through oral language enough in school! It's a crucial prerequisite to writing! 

3) Implement Word of the Week or Idiom of the Week so that your influence lingers after you walk out of the room. For years, I implemented  word of the week. I had the word of the week posted outside my therapy door - a place where all students walked past.  For teachers who wanted to jump on board - and in classrooms where my students were- each week I introduced it to the class.  It was a big hit in upper elementary grades 4 and 5.  I tried  to choose a substantial word but one that they could actually use at school that would also be a nice addition to their repertoire.  During the week, if they used the word appropriately during class discussion or in any way in their wriring, they would write their name on the board (the teacher had to give them the go ahead). At the end of the week, whichever student's name was written the most times, got a prize from my prize box.  For those grades I used lots of candy, chips and privileges they covet (like taking off shoes or sitting in a rolling chair that week).  Since I've discovered Idiom of the Week (by Speech with Sharon) I now use that instead.  

It works the same way but boosts their figurative language! I post (and talk alllllll about) the Idiom of the Week to the participating classrooms, and whichever student can use it the most gets the big prize. 

4) Can't make it into ELA?  Become your students' tool to dig deep into comprehension in the science and social studies classroom. This is something that's come about for me out of necessity. Scheduling has been tough this year, and I've found that what my 5th grade students are struggling the most is science and social studies. I've worked in these classes with them a little and discovered that it's a great place to help students tackle new concepts and language comprehension.  Sometimes students just need your body next to them and your help to decipher new vocabulary and comprehend  new ideas. 

5) Be a bridge to carryover for your articulation and fluency kids.  Your presence in the classroom is beneficial for your articulation and fluency kids, too!! I've been very lucky that my administration has been on board with trying to put my articulation students in the classese where I do inclusion or at least cluster them in a class or two in each grade level. I've loved going in their classrooms to help them prepare for oral presentations, and to be their visual reminder to apply the strategies that they learned in the classroom in their actual classes.  I like to think of it as a gentle speech harassment :)  When they are ready to carryover skills to the classroom, I hang around like a pest and, when needed, give them a visual cue a reminder in class (teeth clenched for /s/ and /z/, big breath for fluency reminders to "belly breathe," a tap to the throat as a reminder for /k/ and /g/) but my plan is to soon put Peachie Speechie's prompts on a stick to use in the classroom! 

I would LOVE to hear how YOU provide great therapy in the classroom. 
Please comment and share ~ we can never have too many ideas! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hide And Seek: Field Trip!

Thirteen bloggers are hiding--hiding on different blogs and hiding in the school. They're here to give you tips on how to do therapy all around the school!  Read and hop from blog to blog. While you're there, jot down the author's blog and school location listed at the bottom of each post to enter our big giveaway! 

I had the honor of meeting Anne, from Beautiful Speech Life, this summer at the TpT Conference in Vegas. She's hiding out and guest blogging on my blog today! Enjoy!


Looking for a natural functional environment to provide speech language therapy?
Go on a field trip!

 I work with three special needs classrooms at my school.  Community trips are an important part of their curriculum.

Every year, I try to go with at least one of the classrooms for a fun community experience.

It takes a little planning and schedule juggling but it's worth it for so many reasons.
 There are so many language opportunities.

1. Buddy Up

I usually "buddy up" with one student for the bus ride. This a great time to practice social skills and make predictions. For example, on a trip to the zoo, one little girl had so much to tell me.  She pointed out where she lived, McDonald's, Burger King and Food City. As we got closer to the zoo, I asked her to tell me some of the animals she thought we would see.

On the bus ride there, many students point at the things they see out the window and ask questions.

2. Take Photos

Take lots of photos during the field trip to use in future sessions.  You are gathering contextual, functional therapy material.  Plus students usually want to see the photos, so they have to request and comment.

You can extend the learning in future sessions by using the photos. Create a simple story with the pictures; something like "My Trip to the Zoo". Or create an adaptive book matching symbol to picture.

3. Talk during snack-time

If there is food involved, that can be another time full of language opportunities with labeling, requesting and commenting. Many times adults try to anticipate the desires of a child with special needs, giving him what they think he wants without giving him the opportunity to express it himself. Here's a chance for you to model language and wait time.

4. Practice Social Skills

Social skills opportunities are everywhere on a field trip. Saying hello to others, standing in line, saying thank you and please can be practiced in a different setting.

5. Observe

You have the opportunity to see how students communicate outside of the classroom or speech room setting. Take this time to observe a student with his peers> Iis he fitting in socially with his classmates? Does he have friends that want to sit with him on the bus or walk next to him in line?

Going somewhere new on a field trip usually generates lots of curiosity. Is your student paying attention, is he following along, and does he ask questions. If not, here is an area where you can provide some prompts and models. Remind him "eyes of speaker". Encourage him to raise his hand and ask a question.

6. Think outside the box

It would be tough to justify going on a field trip with just one student; but if you have a group of 3-4 kids in a classroom you might be able to do it. Just for a once a year, fun, bonding, real life experience.

Can you think of a group at your school that this might work with?

Anne’s home base is Beautiful Speech Life but today she’s on the: Bus on a Field Trip!

Collect the names of the participating blogs and where they are hiding and enter them here
You could win these awesome therapy materials:


Keep hopping! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Talk Like a Pirate!!

One of the most fun days of the year is coming...
September 19 is Talk like a Pirate Day!
I'm really bummed that it's falling on a Friday so I'm declaring the whole entire week Talk like a Pirate Week in my speech room! 

I'm linking up with my friend, Tracy, from Gold Country SLP to share...
...what's going down in my speech room this week!

1) OF COURSE we're playing POP UP PIRATE in articulation therapy 
(one of my all-time favorite games!) 

2) My little ones are also earning gems for their treasure chests during articulation drill!
 (I got these from Lakeshore Learning) 

3) We are using my simple but oh-so-addictive Pirate Quick Drill game for all skill drills this week.  

Putting the cards in my treasure chest amongst the jewels and gold coins makes it even more fun, and naturally we are drilling with the pirate words included for each phoneme.  

4) We are addressing goals and collecting treasure with my Pesky Pirates game, too! 

4) My older students have learned some strategies to decipher unknown words- in this case- pirate language! I've been using my pirate-themed context clues packet with my 4th and 5th graders and in inclusion!  It's made that tough skill so much more fun AND my kids were really motivated to find out what all the wacky pirate words and phrases meant. 

You can find my pirate style lesson in context clues in my TpT store :) 

Some of my students even asked for a copy of the included pirate dictionary so they can really be ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I think my students and I may just start talking like pirates year 'round.  What do you think? 

I've got my eye on Kayla SLP's Pirate Articulation on TpT!  My kids would love to feed the pirate! 

Please comment and tell me how YOU are celebrating! 

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget