Speech Therapy in the Classroom for Older Students

3 Jul

 

Are you assigned to work with upper grades next school year and wondering how you could work in the classrooms?  Many of us are a bit intimidated to actually do this.  For older students with language processing difficulties, working in the classroom may seem to be the best option. There can be many benefits. It is often a struggle to make therapy relevant for older students and they may  resist being removed from class. It may be a hassle to schedule everyone around academic instruction and you have a lot of students in one particular class. Working in  the classroom allows you to see how the students are functioning in class and you can see how instruction is being presented to the students.  You can consult better with classroom teachers to meet the needs of your students.

However, there are some downsides to the push-in model.   You may not have control over your teaching environment and it may be less than ideal in large classes with limited space. There are the  distractions of other students and you may feel like you are intruding on the classroom teachers space and time. If you don’t get the lesson plans ahead, you may not come adequately prepared for the lesson being presented by the classroom teacher.  It is also difficult to work with more than one student in a class without being your own little group in the back of the classroom.  If you have a high caseload, scheduling can become a  nightmare with inflexible time blocks taken up by single students.

I have experienced mainly  two scenarios with the push-in model.  In one, the Speech Language Pathologist, (SLP) works with a few students in the back of the room and scaffolds what is being presented by the classroom teacher using visuals or breaking it down in segments.  This can be useful for a few students if done discretely. It can also be quite distracting to other students who want to see what is going on and not follow what the classroom teacher is presenting.

In scenario two, the SLP takes over part of  the classroom instruction and co-teaches.  This can be quite effective, especially when the teachers can play off their strengths.  It does require some advance planning and meeting time between teachers.  For the SLP, it may be harder to meet the individual needs of the students you are targeting because you are working with an entire class. I find that taking data is really difficult because your attention is drawn in so many directions.  Often It is hard to sustain this as our caseloads increase through the  school year.  Sometimes you may start with a handful of speech students in a class and then find the students you were targeting moved and you are left with one student in the time slot.

The following are a few methods and activities you may want to try.  These  work best when information is being given in a lecture format such as with social sciences or history.


You can work in the classroom with a small chosen group of students to write notes as information is presented and formulate questions on note or index cards.  This activity can be expanded as a total class activity with some students receiving help and others being independent. It is important to include a question and answer on the card.  The questions and answers can then be gathered and used later in a review activity with the whole class participating.  This process helps students who need a rehearsal of information or information segmented.  It gives students a reason to be engaged and helps those who have difficulty taking notes on relevant information.

I have found game show type activities work well for reviewing at the end of a unit. Once you have it set up it can be used multiple times with little preparation. Now you can bring out the  note cards the students have already prepared and swap them out at the end of each unit you review.

I showcased a Jeopardy activity on a previous post. You can reuse this game by placing letters under the dollar amount cards. You may or may not have categories depending on the topic.  Pile the question cards into draw piles corresponding to the letters and categories if you have them.  You may want to have teams write answers on white boards to avoid blurt outs.  If the question is answered correctly the person or team receives the dollar amount. Don’t forget to put bonus cards in to increase the suspense. For some reason handing out fake money is a real incentive. I hope you have kept it from the previous post.

Idioms of Fortune is another game I have made up.  It can be used as a review game also.  As a bonus it reviews  idiom vocabulary at the same time.  You may want to form teams again as in the previous game and use white boards.

I print out a large illustrated version of an idiom. You may want to have a few of these on hand because sometimes it is figured out sooner than you think.   I set the printer so it prints out the illustration on multiple pages and then tape the pages together to form one large picture.  You can Google idioms and find quite a few.  I used raining cats and dogs from openclipart.org because it did not have restrictions.

This styro-foam poster board I found at the dollar store is turning out to be quite useful. I stuck my idiom picture on it and then tacked index cards on top so that the picture wasn’t visible.  The smaller the cards the more questions that will be needed.  It should look something like this.  Then mark the cards in some fashion.  I put the alphabet on mine. .  

Someone draws a question card and reads it.  This could be an assigned student or the teacher.  A student or team agrees on an answer to present. You may want to use white boards and have the teams write answers.  Again this really helps with the  blurt outs.  If they are right they can choose a card, look at the picture and then take a guess on what  idiom is being illustrated.   The first team to guess is the winner.

This is what it may look like after a few cards are drawn.

You may or may not plan a reward for the winning team. Some students find the competition is enough and don’t care about rewards. You may want to do the opposite type of reward and have the losing team do something silly like sing a nursery rhyme for the other team.  Middle school students seem to  like permission to be silly.  Agree on the terms before starting.

I hope you find these activities useful.  If you have information to add to this topic, please comment.

Free Game Show Activity to Elicit Asking Questions

15 Apr

I will take “Places” for $20 please.

Quite a long time ago, when Jeopardy was a familiar TV game show, I used the idea to create a game for eliciting questions and naming items of a category.  It was a good game because it really made students think about categories and how to describe words. It also emphasized using the correct forms for who, what, where, and does/do questions. I liked using it with groups because it worked on so many goals at once with multiple opportunities for practice.  The students were always enthused about playing it mainly because they liked the play money. Sometimes they would request keeping the money as a reward.

The directions for the game are under the expressive language heading, under the title Jeopardy. Previously the game was not as complete.  You were left to find the category pictures on your own.  Well you are in luck. I left my materials for this game at my old school so I had to reconstruct it. I decided since I had to make a new one, I would update it on the blog as well. Now you should be able to print all the materials out without searching for the category vocabulary.  I used the picture program Picto Selector which I am liking more and more.  It is free to try so you may want to take a look.  I made the category cards from it.

To prepare materials for  this game, you need to print and cut out the cards.  I had a pocket calendar I used previously which made an easy place to insert the cards.  I no longer have it.   As a substitution, I  bought a foam board used for project presentations at the dollar store. It makes a cheap alternative. I can hang cards on it with push pins. I really prefer the pockets but this works.  Star stickers are optional. I stick stars on the back of some of the money cards to indicate a double pay out.  You need play money. You may be able to find some at the dollar store. If not,there is some you can print for free on www.KidsMoneyFarm.com.

In order to set the game up, I  placed the category cards along the top row. I then placed the object cards in a row below the categories they belong to.

I then took the money amount cards and pinned them on top of the object cards. It should look like this.

I do pre-instruction about what kinds of questions to ask for the type of answer you want to get.  For example  I emphasize who questions are for people answers and work best for the category of occupations and where questions are best for the  places.  This may be confusing for some students who just want to describe the picture.  There are free charts that illustrate who, what, where, why and how questions on TPT or Pinterest..  I usually have one of these posted in my room for reference.

The  students play by choosing a category and a  the dollar amount. The student is given the card with the pictured object or action and is given the task of asking a question so that the other students will reply by giving the answer on the card. For example:  If a student asks for places for $20 he would get a picture of a road.  He would then ask the students the question, “Where do people drive cars?”  Hopefully the other students will provide the answer, road  The student who asked the question gets the dollar amount in play money.

Depending on the abilities of my students I vary what I expect before they earn the money.  Generally, if the student produces a grammatically and semantically correct question that elicits the correct answer he gets the dollar amount of the card.  If there is a star on the back he gets double.

Teaching Left from Right

19 Mar

I don’t know about you but I’ve found that the concept of left and right can be one of the most difficult  for students to grasp.  Because of this I am always on the look out for ways  to incorporate it into my activities.  I am going to showcase a few games I have used during therapy sessions to reinforce the concept plus add little incentive for the other goals we may be working on.  The students don’t realize it but my games are often selected for a dual purpose.

First off I usually show my students how to tell their left from their right .  When they place their hands palm sides down, their left had will form the letter L which stand for Left.  Easy Peasy Classroom has a nice set of posters to illustrate this.  Click on the picture and it will take you there.

I recently found the game called  Left, Right, Center. It is less than $7.00 at stores such as Wal-Mart, which is a reasonable price for my budget. It is also  small for carrying in my therapy bag. It is a dice game that is a nice incentive game because turns are quick and it is more of a game of luck than skill.  This means that any of my students can be successful regardless of abilities.  It also gives multiple opportunities to figure left from right.

The game consists of chips and a set of dice  with the letters L, C, R or a black dot.  Everyone starts with 3 chips.  Players roll the number of dice that corresponds to the number of chips they have.  They pass the chips according to the roll on the dice.  L means a chip to the person on the left.  R means a chip to the person on the right.  C means a chip to the center of the table and a black dot means you keep a chip.  Eventually there will be only one person left with chips and they get to claim the center.  Then the game is over.

I have also used the game of Block Head.  It is a game that has been out for a number of years, so you may have it.  You could use regular blocks but you would not have the crazy shapes then.  I adapted it for left and right practice by adding a spinner. The spinner is part of a set of spinners that are a free download at my TPT store. just click on the picture.

Block Head is a basic game of taking turns stacking different size blocks until someone knocks the block tower over.
 Students practice left and right by spinning the spinner and then using the hand designated by the spinner.  Students can develop an awareness of which hand feels more comfortable to them and use that to figure out which hand is which.

 

There is also a game I made up for my kindergarten concept groups called Skip and Pass.  It is  in the vocabulary section of this blog or you can click on the green lettering.  A small group of students form a circle and each child has a black or white shape in front of them.  I make die cut shapes.  Students take turns throwing a large dice in the middle of the circle. The die indicates if students pass a ball or bean bag left or right around the circle and who is skipped according to the shape in front of them.  It is a good game to teach group participation as well as several concepts including left and right. The pattern for the dice is included in the instructions.

I hope you found these options useful.  I am taking part in a linking party for special ed. blogs so check out some of these other sites.  We love your comments.  It keeps us writing.

Descriptive Sentences: What is old becomes new.

5 Mar

 

One of the benefits of switching work locations is activities that seem old in one school can become new to another group of students. I don’t like hauling a lot of materials around so sometimes I need to think of new  ways for adapting my materials to adjust to new goals.   This last week we had fun with the  game of Cariboo. Many of you may have this game but it can be hard to find since it is no longer being made. Don’t worry, you can make an alternative. If you click on the picture below it will take you to a previous post of mine about a game you can make that would work for this activity.  You just need to switch the pictures out and provide an incentive or clues under the covers.

Activity Tailor also posted some alternatives to the Cariboo game. Just click on the name and it will take you there.

You would think this game is mainly for the younger set, however I had 4th and 5th graders that were enthused to play.  There is something about clues and a secret that just arouses curiosity.  I thought once they discovered what was in the treasure box they would want to stop, but they asked for another round.

I did some adapting to make Cariboo relevant for the older students who were working on developing more complex sentences.    I inserted pictures for using pronouns and a variety of verbs for some of my younger students.  I brought out my  spinner for making descriptive sentences for the older students.  I had students pick a picture on the Cariboo game, spin the spinner and add what the spinner selected to a basic sentence describing the picture.   They could then open the door on the Cariboo game and look for one of six balls that are needed to open the treasure chest.

To get  the descriptive sentence spinner just click on the picture at the top of the page and  it will take you to my TPT store where you will find it.  It is a free download.  I bought the pronoun cards from another TPT store made by another SLP for the Cariboo game.  You probably have some of those cards  in some form already.

I used this same activity for my articulation students who labeled the pictures or described them.  It was a good way to practice using speech sounds in spontaneous sentences. Because they had to think up the sentences it was a little more challenging then imitating or reading sentences.

I hope I have helped with your lesson planning for this week.

 

Communication Board Maker and Pass the Pigs

19 Feb

I thought I was going to have a break for a while but I find myself working in an elementary school again. There is a high need for substitute  SLPs in the schools here and I couldn’t say no. On the bright side, it provides opportunities for blog post  topics.

So now you are wondering how Pass the Pigs has anything to do with communication board software.  Well this is a recent game I added to my collection and so I  did not have a communication board or access to software to make one.  Before thinking of making a purchase I started on a quest to see what was available on the web.  I found Picto-Selector.  I was surprised to  see the  possibilities with this free program.  A donation is encouraged. Best of all sharing was not prohibited as long as you  made sure you provided a link back to the site for recognition. The site is here: Picto-Selector.  You do need to download and install a program but it didn’t take long and I was happy it  passed the virus check on my computer. For a free product, I found the program to be quite flexible and user friendly.   A library of pictures is available within the program. You can use their grids but I chose to use my Power Point program  and make my own grid. I was able to drop pictures from the program and size them on that grid.  This also allowed me to insert my own pictures of the pigs.  I am happy with the results. You may want to give it a try.  The board at the top is an example.

As I have said before, I found that providing communication boards and game activities not only aids nonverbal students but add structure for building sentences and listening skills for some of our students with language processing difficulties.  Games can be used to reinforce turn taking and handling disappointment for those having difficulty with social skills.  Deep breaths and dot pressure anyone?

Here is your warning for  a topic change.   Recently I have I used Pass the Pigs as a game reinforcement. I was surprised to find my youngest students at the elementary school  found this game appealing.  A cup with 2 rubber pigs doesn’t seem that enticing to me. They were more then willing to give it a try though. As with most of my games, I adapted it for my purposes.  Most of the students worked  toward their goals as a prerequisite  for taking a turn. This game was ideal for short turns.   I simplified scoring for my youngest students.   The score sheet that was included with the game was difficult to follow and we spent too much time figuring out pig positions for a score.  I put the new scoring on a communication board for easy access.  I also have some students who had a hard time dealing with the “pig out” score which meant they lost all points. I switched it to zero points which is difficult enough for some students to handle.  I also switched the scoring to if they got 2 pigs with scores above 5 they could add them together for the score.  It was just easier to know that then trying to look up the variations.  Each student was allowed one roll instead of going until they decide to stop.  This was so turns remained short. No one knew the original rules so I didn’t have  complaints.
I joined the February blog link up for special education.  It will bring you to similar blog sites.