Showing posts with label SLP Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLP Tips. Show all posts

Tips for Using Books with Students Who Don't Read



Books! Most of our students will say that they don’t read and that they don’t like books, but they need this exposure, believe me! Reading (and listening to books) builds vocabulary, linguistic structure, and knowledge of story plot elements. 

It is  important for SLPS to support development of literacy skills.

There are so many books to use in therapy for young children.
It is easy to make mixed groups work is by centering therapy around a great book. In preschool, it was easy to find a book that coordinated with the theme (usually seasonal) that the teacher was using in the classroom. 

As students get older, it is not quite as easy. When I’ve tried using classroom books, there was too much my students didn’t understand and the pace was too fast for therapy twice a week to keep up with the plot.

Then I tried using books by Chris Van Allsburg and my students loved them - even my middle schoolers who struggled with curriculum! 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 can work for older kids.


Getting Started with a New Book

Tips for how to address varied goals using literacy activities.

👀 Read through the book and figure out where to take breaks.

👀 With simple sequential narratives and younger attention spans, that is the beginning, middle, and end of the story plot.

👀 Divide longer books into complete episodes, if it is possible. 


👀 Use sticky notes to remember where to take breaks and the kind of speech/language goals that can be elicited at that point.

For older students, look for:


👀 Interesting pictures, art or photographs that give clues to the plot without ‘giving it away.’

👀 Stories that have multiple plot episodes to keep your students engaged while still being able to finish an episode in each session.


👀 Stories which provide background knowledge and vocabulary that supports classroom topics or themes.


Use an Organizer


Organizers are great tools for literacy skills.

Start with your most mixed group, or most behaviorally difficult group, and fill in an organizer with the group goals and the targets that you can elicit at that point in the story. 

You can use my free story organizer or fill in the needed information on any organizer your students will fill out after the book is done.


Write a set of questions on a sticky note for asking at various points while reading. This keeps each student participating at short intervals of the story. 

This helpful strategy keeps students with short attention spans, poor working memory, or processing problems engaged. (It is also great for tired SLP overload and memory issues!)


Then add in any other goals or student needs you want to have prepared. 


Tips for Eliciting Goals


Articulation goals


These are the easiest!

👀 Just identify the words, phrases or sentences in each section that you want your student to read aloud.
👀 If there aren’t enough, make a question list that will elicit those words.

👀 Or challenge your students with a homework assignment where they have to find and pronounce the words with their sounds in a story passage.

Story question goals


👀 Have you tried using story grammar? My students showed great success when questions were paired with story grammar symbols. The visual cues helped reduce processing time and enabled students to look back in the text for the requested information.
👀 Try placing the question words or a story element on a popsicle stick for your students to pick out of a can and answer when the story is done.

Occasionally put in one sticky note that has something fun, like 2 free minutes on the computer or a no homework pass, and your students will always want to finish the activity

Grammar goals


Eliciting target structures in sentences is easily achieved.

Have your students:
👀 tell what just happened with correct sentences.
👀 describe the story pictures.

👀 ask a peer a question.

Receptive / expressive language goals


Pause at sections for students to:

👀 sequence the events so far.
👀 retell the story.
👀 summarize the last episode.
👀 tell how a character feels.
👀 infer what they could be thinking at this point.

👀 make a prediction about what will happen next.

For goals that are difficult to target during a story:

👀 Address them in a follow-up activity at the end of the session
👀 Use games as the cohesive element on some therapy days.
👀 Figure out ways to pair up student goals in activities for a smoother flow.

Managing the needs of mixed groups in therapy is a common SLP concern.

Have you found a great way to use books to organize mixed groups in speech/language therapy?

3 Quick Tips to Make Mixed Groups that Work!


Do you feel qualms about how to make speech/language therapy work when know you have mixed groups? Does figuring out student grouping get you stressed?

It may feel like a juggling act, but these tips actually work!

Try using these tips to make your SLP life easier!

1. Accept that you will have mixed groups!


While sometimes you may be fortunate enough to have compatible groups with the same goals, this will likely be rare in the schools. On the bright side, mixed groups do have some benefits!

👀 Mixed groups can grow your skills as an SLP, encouraging you to learn to adapt activities in a variety of ways.

👀 In mixed groups, you can use your students’ strengths to help them interact with others.

👀 Especially with students who have behavioral difficulties, your groups will be more successful when the students like to be with each other.

Pair goals that can be elicited together in your therapy activities.


2. Think about how this year’s goals could pair up.

Picture the types of activities you like to use in your therapy sessions. Which speech/language goals are easy to elicit?

If you can elicit articulation goals with a particular activity/material set during one session and adapt the activity the next session for language goals, you can work with a mixed group! Just modify how each child in the group is participating!

Some easy to do pairings include:

Receptive/Expressive Vocabulary paired with Sentence Structure : Using the same vocabulary pictures and activities, students can find /label words while the others produce sentences or practice syntax.

WH Questions paired with Sentence Structure: Using the same materials, start with one set of students answering questions to give appropriate information while the other students answer using correct sentences (whatever their specific target is.)

When the activity is easy, have the first group of students ask the questions of the others!

Or play a Jeopardy version where the sentence goals students give an answer and the WH group has to think of a question.

Inferences paired with Narrative Goals:  Literacy activities are great for language in general, but specifically, it is easy to ask one set of students about story grammar/plot first to get the details, then follow up with having the other students pull the information together and make an inference.
Think about your mixed groups during meetings geared for teachers.


3.  Make an organization for goal sets that work well together.


Try to fit all of the information you have just figured out on one sheet of paper to have as an easy reference while scheduling. Divide a page into sections, leaving enough room to pencil in student names for possible groups.

It is okay to place a name in more than one section! Sometimes it is easier to manage diverse goals when students have different partners on different days.

On the back, do the same thing for students who come individually or goals that you haven’t figured out how to pair up yet.

Keep this organization sheet in a page protector or other organizer and use it for getting out materials, planning activities, figuring out what you need to buy, and scheduling!

I have gotten up to 15+ schedule revisions in some years where it never settled down, needing this organization sheet all year long. What is the maximum number of schedule changes you’ve had in one year?

A Color Coded Method to End Scheduling Madness!

Scheduling for speech/language therapy can lead to madness! Just joking, but it can be a true pain. I’ve tried many ways to schedule over the years and this color-coded system has worked best. Give it a try!

Scheduling Tips Using Color

With this method, you use small colored sticky notes and a page protector, but it will work with just a paper, pencil, and any size sticky notes that you are willing to cut to size. Here’s how to do it.


Use the LLL color coded sticky note scheduling method!


👀 Take a look at your students’ goals and figure out your groups.

👀 Once you have your groups in mind, get your colored sticky notes ready! Either buy small ones or cut the sticky parts down to the size of the slots on your schedule.

👀 Write the names of your students on the colored sticky notes that match their team color (even if just arbitrarily assigned based on having schedules in common.  A Team= yellow,  3rd grade= blue, for example.)

👀 Make a color-coded sticky for every session you need to schedule to ensure that you don’t accidentally skip a session while scheduling. It is also very useful when making schedule changes.


Erasing penciled in student names can lead to losing track of a session.


👀 Make a master schedule of time slots where the students are NOT available. The colored slots on the schedule indicate this.

👀 Putting in information about where the students are those periods can be helpful later on if you have to schedule a makeup session.

👀 Also fill in periods you are allowed to take students, but it isn’t worth the hassle unless necessary. 

👀 If you do any block scheduling or push in times that have little flexibility, fill these in on your schedule now, too.


Use the LLL color coded sticky note scheduling method!

One of an SLP’s worst tasks: SCHEDULING!


Take the sticky notes and place them on your schedule, following these rules:

👀 Never place a sticky on the same colored spot.

👀 Fill in all the colored spots first, leaving the white spots (with more flexibility) open until the end.

👀 Place all of the group slots first, starting with your groups that have the most limited openings and the largest sized groups.

👀 Next, do your students who have the most individual sessions, so you can spread them out over the week.

👀 Then, fill in the rest of the sticky notes while humming your good luck mantra!

Keep putting your sticky notes on until your schedule is filled, If you get this done without encountering a problem, you win the Scheduler of the Year Award! That never happened to me. (SIGH!)

Never match the sticky note to the same colored spot!


Scheduling Problems:


Inevitably, there is a spot left where someone doesn’t fit.

👀 Take a photo now! Sometimes, a sequence of changes works and your problem is solved.

👀 Other times, you start making changes and it just gets worse, so you will need the photo to go back to where you were close to being done.

👀 Then picking a different sticky note to try to make the switch usually works. 

👀 In the worst-case scenario, pull off some of the stickies for your easier to group slots and stick them on the side of the schedule.

👀 Find new slots for your hard to schedule kids and then go back and fill in the easier to schedule kids.

👀 One of the best aspects of scheduling using sticky notes is that you won't end up losing track of any sessions while figuring out the scheduling snafu!

Now that your schedule works, put it in a page protector so that none of the sticky notes can accidentally fall off. Go make a photocopy to work from and keep your sticky original intact. It will come in handy when the teachers’ or your students’ schedules get changed!

Last, but very important, go home and de-stress at the end of the day. I find that a glass of wine with dinner works wonders!

How do you de-stress after scheduling?

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