Showing posts with label Mixed Groups. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mixed Groups. Show all posts

5 Tips: Finding What Works for Mixed Speech/Language Groups

5 tips for Mixed Groups & Making Your Material Work for You- Looks-Like-Language
It's time to get all of the tips together and put them to use! I usually don't have posts about specific products, but I received some requests to give more information about how to use some of my packets. Let me know if you like this or not!

5 tips for Mixed Groups & Making Your Material Work for You- Looks-Like-Language
Look for materials that include multiple skills! I'm using my newest packet to show you some ways that it can be done. There are language goals (sequencing, WH questions and narrative retell), articulation goals (carryover of R, S, and L,) and social skills goals (emotions, inferring, problem solving and perspective taking) for each short story!

Find a central theme to have all of the students in the group share in the activity. In this example, it is a short story that was designed to work on the social skill of understanding multiple perspectives in a problem. It was developed with an abundance of words that contained one sound (/R/) in all positions to elicit carryover. 

Use synonyms for more artic practice! Tips from Looks-Like--Language
You can do this with any story or book, though.  Give your speech sound students a list of words with their sounds that are close synonyms for words in the story. During the first reading, they have to listen and write (or underline if they have a copy) the words that are synonyms. When re-reading or during the activities, they have to substitute the word with their sound for the synonym in the story.

Collect materials on a central theme! Tips from Looks-Like-Language
Gather an abundance of materials related to that central theme! It is time consuming to find and adapt multiple pages to fit the same theme, but it is possible. Of course, buying one that is all done lets you spend your precious time doing what you love!

Use the templates! Tips from Looks-Like-Language
Adapt what you have to include the one skill that may be missing to meet all of the needs in your group! That is why I always try to include one blank template in all of my products for you to personalize. It isn't too time consuming if you just have to write in the work for one student in the group using the same set of game cards or activity template.

Re-use great organizers! Tips from Looks-Like-Language
Look for organizers for skills that can be used over again with different books. Our students usually need a lot of repetition to gain independence with a skill, so re-use your organizers! Change it up a little by using the organizers with movie clips or wordless shorts on YouTube or try it with song lyrics for older students. Need some ideas? Read this post.

If you want to to try out mine to guide you along the way, click here. Enjoy!

Let's Make It a #kindnessnation! Valentines Day Freebie 1
If kindness was ever needed, now is the time! I'm joining the movement at TpT to help spread a little kindness by making it easier for you to plan some activities this month!

I also have joined Classroom Freebies! Don't be fooled by the name- go check it out! Everything is free, and there are a few SLPs on TpT sharing resources there, including my friends Susan Berkowitz and Lisette from Speech Sprouts!

This week, get my open ended freebie from my store. My newsletter followers just got the link to a set of free matching worksheets! If you'd like to join the fun, just sign up using the top bar to get my monthly newsletter. No sharing your email address and no spamming, I promise!

If you download the freebie at my store and it makes you happy, please share the kindness by leaving some nice feedback! Enjoy!

Books Make Mixed Group Therapy Easy! Tips and a Freebie!

One of the common problems that SLPs have is in figuring out how to best manage the needs of mixed groups in therapy. If you are just joining me in this series, you will want to check out this post about using games as the cohesive element for mixed groups since it has a freebie download for taking group data. The second post in this series gives tips for figuring out ways to pair up goals in activities for a smoother flow.

My favorite way to make mixed groups work is by centering therapy around a great book! When I worked in preschool, it was easy to find a book that coordinated with the theme (usually seasonal) that the teacher was using in the classroom.

Books for Mixed Group Therapy- Looks-Like-Language
Now that I am in middle school, with lower functioning kids, it is not quite as easy. I’ve tried using classroom books, but there’s too much my students don’t understand and the pace is too fast for therapy twice a week to keep up.  

This year, I’ve been using books by Chris Van Allsburg and my students have loved them! The plot is in depth enough to address multiple goals, the books are short enough to do in a few sessions, and the pictures are fantastic! They are beautifully drawn and not babyish, so the books work great for older kids.

To get started with a new book, this is how I organize myself.
  • Read through the book and figure out where I can take breaks. With simple sequential narratives and younger attention spans, that is the beginning, middle and end of the story plot.
  • With longer books, like the ones I am using this year, I divide them up into complete episodes, if it is possible.  
  • Starting with my most mixed group, or my most behaviorally difficult group, I fill in my organizer with the group goals and think about how I can elicit the speech/language targets from each student.
  • I write a set of questions I can ask at various points in the story section to get each student participating at short intervals of the story. This is a helpful strategy to keep students with short attention spans, poor working memory, or processing problems engaged. It is also helpful for tired SLP overload!

Story Planning for Mixed Groups- with a freebie! Looks-Like-Language
Articulation goals are the easiest: Just identify the words, phrases or sentences in the section that you want your student to read. If there aren’t enough, make a question list that will elicit those words again.

Question goals: I have had great success with pairing questions with story grammar element symbols. The visual cue really helps my students spend less time processing the question, so they have a chance to look back in the text to find the answer. 

Grammar goals: Figure out sentences that these students can retell with their target structures, pictures that they can describe in a sentence with their targets, or questions they can ask/answer to work on their goal.

Sequence/story retell goals: Pause at sections for students to recap the story.

When there are goals that I can’t fit into the actual story telling, I save some time to have an activity related to the book and that goal at the end of the session.

To make it even easier, fill out this information on sticky notes! You can pull them off the  FREE organizer and stick them right in the book on the page they match!  Click here to download the freebie and get your mixed group book themes started now.

I promise, if you can figure out your most difficult group and your most common goals, the whole process will get so much easier as you continue to use the book throughout your week!

4 Tips to Make the MOST of your Group Interactions

So much goes on in mixed group sessions that sometimes it can feel like a juggling act, especially for new SLPs. The activity, the materials, the behavior, modeling and eliciting the skills, taking data, and watching the clock to get it all completed! How do we get it done?

Part of what helps me out is the organization I set up at the beginning of the year, which provides a firm foundation. Don’t worry if you are already into the school year as the ideas will still help you out! Check out this post.

Once you have a master sheet of the goals you need to address during the year, think about how they can be worked on together to form your groups. While homogenous groups sound great, it is rare to have them, in my experience, and over time I have come to believe that students benefit from interactions with peers at different levels. It takes a bit of brainstorming to figure out specific activities and goal combinations at first, but soon it will be easier to do!

Pair earlier and later skills to provide models
For example, figuring out what happens when (predicting) is an early cause-effect type of skill that students need to make the connection and answer ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. When you ask your first student, “What happened when I …?” you are providing a model for the student who will be asked ‘Why?” or “How?’ next.

SLP: What did I do?
Student 1: You moved it.
SLP: What happened when I moved the wand?
Student 2: You made a bubble.
SLP: Yes! I moved the wand and made a bubble. Student 3, how did I get the bubble to come out?
Student 3: You moved it.

Using group interactions to make your job easier! Looks-Like-Language
Pair goals that work together to form a complete skill

With older students, you can elicit information in turns the same way. Take the example of remembering story details combined with sequencing and telling the main idea. After a short story or video clip, the first student could use story elements to remember different details. The second student could tell the important story attempts in sequence, while the third could sum it all up with the main idea. This way, the students are interacting and providing some of the information needed, freeing you up to take data.

Pair articulation needs with language needs
Students who have good language skills but need to work on carryover of their articulation goals can make great partners for students with language problems. The variety of activities you are using, especially books, for language needs can provide many chances for the artic student to use their speech sounds.

Make a set of the WH question words that your language student needs to answer and let your artic student ask a question that has one of the target sound words in it as well. Sometimes students respond well to the creative questions their peers ask! Once the students have started interacting with each other, they are both practicing their skills in a more naturalistic way, which is great for carryover.

Pair receptive needs with expressive needs
Students can be involved together in an activity when one needs to provide pieces of information that demonstrate comprehension while the other one needs to pull all of the information together to express it. Some examples of these pairings could be:
answering questions-> telling information in a grammatically correct sentence
remembering details-> summarizing information
naming items in a category-> choosing the correct category
describing an object -> making an inference

The basic idea behind of all these tips are to have some of the students supply a piece of the information that will provide models or help out the next student, limiting the amount of separate directions and models you have to provide. Using this strategy gets students interacting and using their skills in a more natural way while freeing up a little of your concentration to take data and manage the activity.

When it works, it can be awesome! Good luck!

3 Easy Tips for Spicing Up Your Games with Mixed Groups

Games! Yes, SLPs love to play games with their students, but there is a good reason for this. Students who come to speech/language therapy walk in the door with a very mixed set of skill strengths and weaknesses, learning problems and strengths, as well as IEP goals, all of which need to be remediated in a minimal amount of time each week.

3 easy game tips for speech/language therapy
There is no curriculum to be taught that ties the group together, unlike their classroom, so a variety of activities are needed that lets each student be part of a group and get enough practice to learn at their own rate. Games, crafts and other activities fit the bill perfectly.

Beyond the planning needs of the SLP is the need to have the students use their newly attained speech and language skills in as natural an environment as possible.  

When students are able to use their skills in a structured activity with lots of feedback, the SLP checks to see if they can continue to use the skill when they aren’t focusing specifically on their speech and language. 

If they maintain it during a fun activity, chances are the teacher and parents may see the skill being used as well.

How to do this? For a new SLP, this often feels like juggling practice. It helps at first to have a group data sheet so you aren’t juggling paperwork while modeling and eliciting speech/language skills, as well as monitoring behaviors in the group.  

If you haven’t found a group data sheet that works well for you, check out this blog post. There’s a freebie download as well as links to other free data sheets on TpT. If you'd like some ideas for monitoring the bigger picture, check out this blog post.

3 easy game tips for speech/language therapy
Board games aren’t the only way to bring a group together and address all of these variables. Kids love games of all types! Some of my most successful games have been ones that I have put together from varied household items and junk that was lying around.


Plastic egg cartons make great open-ended tic-tac-toe tossing games! Pick up some themed erasers, puffballs, or any type of lightweight item to throw. After each response, students get to toss one in, trying to get three in a row!


Go to a yard sale to find some inexpensive building toys. Pictured is a monster set I found. Students get another piece to add on after each correct response. This motivates and keeps little hands busy while waiting for a turn!

Tossing Games!

Packing peanuts are fun to toss because they are surprisingly unpredictable yet won’t hurt anyone. I combined them with a toy hoop and a box to contain the game. Kids love it!

Look around your house and see what you can turn into a game! What is your favorite 'junk' to use?
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