4 Tips for How to Conquer the Challenge of Mixed Groups

Mixed groups can be challenging until you learn how to conquer them! While it is possible to cobble together varied work and tie it all together with an open-ended game, think about how much more learning goes on when speech, language, and social skills are incorporated into the same session so that you are improving all of your students’ needs. This blog post has tips to help you accomplish just that.

4 Tips for How to Conquer the Challenge of Mixed Groups

TIP 1: Have fun activities that your students enjoy.

It is no secret that learning takes place more efficiently when students are having fun and engaged in the learning process.
Favorite activities for older students include:
        👀Board games
        👀Dice games
        👀Spinner activities
        👀Role plays

TIP 2: Make the work look similar.

If you have worked with older kids at all, you also know that middle school age is a tough time for feelings of self-confidence and seeing that those other students in the group are doing different activities can lead to questions about why someone has the hard work and someone else has the easy work.

The secret is to figure out a way to use the exact same materials as much as possible, but let the role of the student in the activity change.

👀 One student asks, the other answers.
👀 One student explains the first part, the next student explains the last part.
👀 One student does the first part the first day to model, then switches up to the more difficult task the next session.

TIP 3: Plan ahead for how to make the activities co-ordinate for a variety of goals.

With some creative thinking and a bit of planning, you can incorporate different goals into the fun activity you have planned for the majority of your caseload. At the beginning of the school year, it may take a bit of time to co-ordinate goals, but soon can become second nature.

Tips for using sticky notes to plan speech therapy sessions.
Visible sticky notes are great!
👀 Once you have the types of activities to make plans for, write yourself a note about which goals to elicit on the days you do those activities.
👀 Figure out ways to get students to interact with each other to use their skills in context.
👀 Think about what is the best time during   
      that activity to address each need and take that student’s data.
👀 This helps you reuse the planning from one session to the next.

TIP 4: Collect materials with multiple levels in one goal area.

While this is perfect for starting students at the lowest skill level and building abilities to a higher level, it also allows students at different levels in this skill to interact with each other.

👀 Letting one student explain something to another student, like playing teacher, can be a great way to consolidate skills for the one student while letting the other student hear the perspective that made it click for his peer.
👀 Having a variety of materials in one set makes your job easier, too. One student can sequence 2 pictures to play the game, another can work on sentences, while others read the passage silently while waiting and tell the answer when it is their turn.

Working with mixed groups is quite possible. Hope these tips help! Enjoy!

10 Easy SLP Tips that Work: Expanding Choices for Middle School

As kids get into middle school, the choices they need to make expand in
frequency since they are spending more time away from you and with their peers. Their choices also become bigger, having more impact on their lives at the same time that their peers’ attitudes have a larger role in their lives.

Practical tips for SLPs working with Middle Schoolers
The good news is that parents, teachers and trusted adults still have an important role to play in the lives of pre-teens and teenagers. We can be their sounding boards for decision making, pointing out possible consequences of decisions that they may not have thought about. 

We can offer advice, but older students do not welcome being told what to do. It is important to offer advice as options that students can make, delineating both positive and negative possible consequences related to the choices. 

By discussing these factors and letting our youngsters make the decision, we are empowering them on their paths to become independent adults.

10 Tips for SLPs: Working with Difficult Students

1) Avoid unnecessary confrontations over behaviors. Stay calm and point out the negative consequences of the behaviors that the student is choosing to exhibit. (These hints apply to behaviors that are not dangerous or injurious.)

2) Repeat the request or the direction and give the student time and space to make a different choice.

3) If the student chooses to continue the inappropriate behavior, make sure to follow up with the negative consequence that was stated.

4) If the student chooses to make a more appropriate choice, continue from wherever you were, unobtrusively helping them to catch up. It also helps to find a quiet way to thank the student for making a better choice.

5) Consider whether the student’s inappropriate behaviors were due to internal factors or if it could be a reflection of the difficulty level of the work that was being done at the time. Often students will act out rather than admit that something is difficult or that they need help. 

6) Have choices available for the students' work that day.

    When students are having a difficult day, they may respond better to addressing their goals via a game or a video clip rather than a worksheet.

7) Communicate that you are aware that something is wrong when your difficult student walks in the door looking upset. 
Ask the student if they would like to talk about it or get the work done.

8) Be willing to barter on difficult days.               
Tips for helping middle school students make better choices.

Getting a smaller amount of responses than 
you hoped for is a better use of a session 
than having the student lose it and not 
accomplish anything at all.

9) Try to put a fun spin on some review work. Often students are willing to use a skill in a role-play situation, be the SLP and give you the directions, 
or engage in an online activity on days when they 
would refuse to complete more typical or harder work.

10) Spend time getting yourself ready for difficult days with ideas related to each of the goal areas on your IEPs. I have a few, fun back up games for general language skills, YouTube clips that can be used for a variety of language skills, and websites for making your own stories or comic strips ready to go at any time. 

Putting the links to these websites on one document can be helpful for finding them quickly on days when attention spans and tempers are short.

Pictured above are some fun games to have around for those difficult days. These will let you review some goal on your student's IEP, which is an improvement on doing nothing at all.

Photos, idioms, social language and problem solving for teens!
       When your students are able to settle down to get something accomplished, 
        it can help to work on problem-solving skills to make using the language easier on difficult days.

       Most kids would much rather figure out someone else's problems that bring their own up in a group, so the trick is to find materials that they can relate to in their lives. 

       I know how time-consuming this is, so check out what I have already put together for you!

Great Books SLPs will Love to Read: Leonardo the Terrible Monster

 Mo Willems writes amazing books, and Leonardo the Terrible Monsteris no exception! On the surface, the story is about a monster who is different. He doesn’t do what is expected and scare people.

Ideas for how to use 'Leonardo the Terrible Monster' in speech therapy.
How to Use this Book?

     📒 Discuss what is expected of monsters (scaring people) and why Leonardo was different.
     📒 What did Sam do when Leonardo tried to scare him?
     📒 What did Leonardo think happened? Was his perspective correct?
     📒 What did Sam say he was crying about?

Answering How & Why Questions
📘 Why was Tony scary?
📘 Why was Eleanor scary?
📘 Why was Hector scary?
📘 How did Leonardo try to scare Sam?
📘 Why did Leonardo think he succeeded in scaring Sam?
📘 How did Leonardo decide to change?
📘 Was this a change for the better or a change for the worse? Why?

Mo Willems writes great books that SLPs will love to read!

📕 Retell the story with a beginning, middle and end.
📕 Summarize a whole page of Sam’s complaints in one sentence.

Looking for a fun, no prep, no print follow-up activity?


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