5 Tips for a Tough Caseload

Tips for working with tough kids! Looks-Like-Language



Or, ways to cope when you aren't having fun!


After years of working with students who can’t make it in a regular school setting, I’ve accrued a variety of hints for working with more difficult students. Here's some ideas for older students that have worked for me.

















1. Include your students' interests!
Incorporating your students’ interests into therapy is always helpful for getting them to engage. Currently, for older students, this involves using YouTube links and video clips. Since my students have much more time to spend surfing the net than I do, I’ve found it helpful to let them choose a video clip to watch at the end of the session. As you become familiar with the types your students like, you can figure out ways to incorporate them to meet your IEP goals. In a pinch, if I can’t get students to respond in any other way during the session, I can count on being able to work on answering WH questions, having a conversation, retelling or summarizing  the video’s story, sequencing the events, and eliciting specific grammar or speech sounds when a surprise video is completed. This week's mailing includes a FREE worksheet to use with one of the standby YouTube links that my students love. Be sure to open it! If you aren't on my mailing list and want to receive my follower freebies, just add your email on the top!

2. Make a connection!
Many students with significant difficulties in their lives won’t really respond to you at all until they feel like they have a connection with you.  Getting to this spot often involves playing games, doing what they are interested in, and being open to listen to them before ever approaching your therapy goals.  This can be very difficult to do, as we have to be addressing our goals every session, but it can pay off in the long run.



3. Use many different formats to work on a skill!
My students often need a significant amount of practice, using specific strategies, in order to make any gains. However, they don’t have long attention spans and don’t like to do the same activities every day (unless they are on the spectrum, and that’s another post!) This is the reason why most of my products include multiple activities for the same skills, as well as ways to vary the difficulty levels.  Giving students choices about their work, even if it is as simple as offering a conversation spinner, conversation cards or a conversation game, can get students working since they have made the choice.

4. Provide choices!
Choices are a big option, and this includes the student’s behavior. I often tell my students that I can’t make them work, but I hope that they will think about their choices and make a good decision. While the students are contemplating taking off their hoods and looking like they might interact with me, I keep busy with doing my attendance sheet and getting out some easy, hopefully more engaging work choices than the one I had hoped to do that day.  I make it a point to have varied options for each IEP goal, and lots of games, available at all times for just this reason.

5. Use Incentives!
Incentives to work are so important! Negative consequences, such as notifying the teacher or parents, may work in the short term but are not ideal for helping students to make better choices for themselves.  Games, contests, something fun to do at the end of the session and point systems all can help. Prizes for older students can include no homework passes, extra game or computer time passes, items from the dollar store that interest them, something special from the cafeteria or school fundraising events or an end of year speech pizza party.

What has worked for you?

5 Dollar Store Must-Haves for SLPs!

Shopping at the dollar store has made my SLP life so much easier! Thanks to Talkin’ With Twang for this linky idea!
I’ve made so many purchases from the Dollar Store to organize my therapy room, provide student prizes and find fun, inexpensive materials for therapy. I really had to think about what to include so this post wouldn’t be too long. Here's what I decided on:

Organizing: Materials

I posted here about how much I like using page protectors. While I buy them online, I really the pretty colors of the $1 binders and I love how easily they fit on a shelf or in a filing cabinet. Pop your TpT product pages in a page protector with the game and spinners in a separate one. Store the game cards in a plastic zip bag and stick them in with the game. Put all of this in a binder, along with similar materials, and you are ready to grab it and go! See how easy? Pictured is the game board from my Talk About SH- Spring packet.

Organizing: For My Students

I love having basic supplies that I need for every session within easy reach. A cute basket can hold whatever you need on your table and make it easy for students to pass around. My go-to items include a small dry erase board, varied colors of dry erase markers so students have choices, small make-up sponges for erasers, and of course, the basic pens, pencils, erasers and scissors in a cup.  All of the containers came from the Dollar Store. 
TIP: Be sure to keep your permanent markers stored somewhere else! If a student uses the wrong marker, just write over the permanent marker and erase while wet. After few tries, the permanent marker will erase.

Organizing: Just for Me!

Don’t we deserve a treat, too?  I couldn’t resist this cute little colored cork board to keep my To Do items on. It is small, so I can hang it up right near me while I work. That way, at the end of the day, my notes of what I need to get out, copy or prepare before the next session will be in one spot. The binder clips are cute for hanging small items that get lost easily, too!

Fun and Inexpensive:

I was so excited to find this 100 day poster! My students love big board games and this fits the bill! Just change ‘days’ to ‘sounds’ and your students can race their way to 100 productions! I’d play to let them keep moving their cute little vehicles (Dollar Store erasers!) on space for every correct sound production at whatever level they are working on. When they make a mistake, they have to stop there for the next student to take a turn. Can anyone make it to 100 before time is out?


Check out the erasers in this picture. They make great game pieces! (They are lousy erasers, though!)

Prizes:

While I have tried many prizes from the Dollar Store, these are the all time favorite with my older kids. They come in varied colors, with some even having their own carrying case. I only give out prizes about once a quarter, and with my caseload, it is very much worth the money I’ve spent to have a daily point system that lets them work toward a prize!

I’m sure you’ve shopped there, too! Do you agree that it should be named the Ten Dollar Store? Maybe more? What is your favorite purchase? 

For more ideas, remember to stop back in to Talkin’ With Twang!

The Best Laid Plans of .... SLPs?


One of those days...

Yes, I meant to get out to the dollar store and buy cute little colored cars that fit perfectly on the game board. But, you know perfectly well that speech/language therapy is a make-it-work field and real life gets in the way of beautifully organized plans! For me, anyway. Maybe you are able to organize everything on Sunday night and have everything go as expected. If so, please, please let me in on the secret! There are lots of comments sections below- just fill one up! You’d make me sooooo happy! :)

Back on track (ha-ha!) my car idea didn’t exactly work when I grabbed the larger sized cars I had around. The students had to keep the front of the cars lined up with the space they were on, but the cars kept getting knocked into because they were too big. Then, there were arguments about where each student’s car actually belonged.


I did get my students to start some conversations with each other, but the best part really was when I had them brainstorm ways they could politely express their opinions about which spot was where the car actually belonged. We assigned an emotion to how each of the different choices would make the other person feel and practiced saying the best choice with an appropriate tone of voice and facial expression.


So, what do you think I should do next time I play this game? Use the tokens that come with the game or pull out the too big cars again? Maybe actually make that trip to the dollar store for tiny cars? If you tried this game with the right sized cars, let me know if it is actually worth running another errand!

Would you share a story about a time when your plan failed but the therapy worked? I can't be alone!

How to Organize and Save Time- 3 SLP Tips

Organized? Yes, please!


Why? It saves you time in the long run and reduces frustration, at least for me! Thanks to the Frenzied SLPS for another great topic and invite to link up! Here's 3 quick and easy tips!

Organization is crucial for me, since I absolutely hate wasting time trying to find things I need. Whether you are at home planning for the next day, with kids, dinner and laundry waiting for you, or at school with a ton of paperwork to do, who wants to spend time thinking of all those things feeling frustrated while trying to find what you need?

Add to that the fact that I have worked in many schools over many years, accumulating materials for students from 13 months to 19 years old, moving my stuff from school to home to school almost yearly…. Well, you can see that I have had a lot of reasons and a lot of practice getting organized!

First Tip

It is oh-so-easy to do and has saved me many times. When you print your first, beautiful clean copy of a worksheet, take a yellow highlighter and write your initials in the top right corner.  It won’t show up when you photocopy. Resist the temptation to ever use it- that mark lets you know that it is the original and, possibly, your last copy.

My second tip?

Page protectors! For many years, I stored all of my photocopies in file folders in filing cabinets.  Then, I started to change jobs and move everything home regularly. I found that I could store more in the same space if I got rid of all of the file folders and recycled the extra copies. Take a page protector and place all of your highlighted beautiful worksheets for the same skill in that page protector.

Then, take all of these page protectors, for example plurals, possessives, verb tenses, etc. and put them in a binder marked Syntax. Easy to do, right?  A thin binder will fit in a filing cabinet as easily as a file folder and when you have a syntax goal heavy caseload one year, all you have to do is pull out that binder and see what you want to photocopy.

Third tip? 

What about when you find out that you have only that last, beautiful yellow highlighted copy left and no time to get  to the photocopy machine?  Reusable pockets and dry erase markers to the rescue!  I use these often since it saves on photocopying and my students like being able to choose the color they want to use for the work. They manage to get a little free drawing time in, too, while I am helping the other student in the group or recording data.

Did you find any of these tips helpful?  
How about a FREE, editable system for labeling those binders? Get it at my store for free!
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