I just finished a couple of weeks subbing as a middle school SLP. I find am still enjoying getting to know middle school students. After so many years with elementary level students, it has been a nice change. It is one of the benefits of traveling. It gives you the opportunity to change work environments.
As I started another subbing experience I got to thinking about which therapy items were most helpful on the first day when I don’t know the students and their goals. The SLPs have been good at leaving plans for me but of course stuff happens. For instance an app I needed required a password I didn’t know. Also I couldn’t find the assigned worksheet which was probably in front of my nose at the time. I found it the second day. Between bell schedules, student schedules, and locating students it can be a lot to figure out that first day.
I was left a folder of goals, data sheets,and worksheets which was very helpful. The goals were your typical ones about building various complex sentences and articulation mainly at the sentence level. There were students building a dictionary using Tier II vocabulary. There were also a few others with social communication goals and using AC to communicate.
There was a note stating I could make changes and use what I wished. I appreciated that note because it gave me license to change things up a bit. Student’s appreciate the newness a sub can bring and I usually am better with materials I know rather than reading directions a few minutes before students enter that 1st day. I find students are more cooperative if you are interactive with them.
I thought fellow SLPs would like to know what materials were in my bag that first day and how I used them. I try to travel light and make everything fit in a beach tote I own. I also put my lunch in there because I often don’t know how much time is in the schedule to find any. It is one less thing to worry about. So lets look in that bag.
Chelsea was making sure I packed my lunch. Can you tell that it is often a worry of hers?
In my bag I brought my Go Fish Deck of descriptive snowmen. Go Fish is one of those universal games good for all ages. Adding a descriptive feature, increases the therapy value. I am always surprised to find a few students who don’t know how to play. This school has high poverty and a newcomer population so this may not be that surprising after all. The deck consists of a variety of snowmen that are all different but enough alike that students really need to work on describing them.
In the game of Go fish, they asked for snowmen producing complex descriptive sentences. Some also worked on articulation in phrases and sentence. They particularly drilled r, s, and th in the word “with” as they said sentences such as, “Do you have the snowman with a blue hat, a striped scarf, and a carrot nose”. They also drilled sentences such as, “There is a snowman who has skates on his feet, and is skating.” I provided a sentence frame for some students who needed an example to get started. A few students were working on written sentences so I had them write it out as a separate exercise from the game.
You can print yourself out a deck of snowmen by finding them at Speaking of Speech.com in the Materials Exchange section, under thematic units and snowman game. Click on the snowman below for a direct link to that section.
Many years ago I purchased a Dover Coloring Book called “Whats Wrong with this Picture by Anna Pomaska. This is one of my prized possessions for a therapy material that is easy to carry . It can be used as a regular coloring book. However, I have slipped pages into plastic sleeve covers so students can use dry erase markers for marking on the page and then they can be wiped off for the next group. Students enjoy finding the things wrong in the pictures and they are good prompts for verbal production as well as written sentences. I found that Amazon.com still sells this book. You will not regret having this in your bag. click on the picture below and it will provide a direct link to Amazon. I do not have any affiliation with Amazon and do not get anything from the purchase.
I also brought an assortment of my cards from this web site and TPT. I am finding that a lot of these cards also work for middle school. I used the Tier II vocabulary cards heavily because they happen to be some of the same words they were putting in their dictionaries.
I paired these up with an old game called “Pig Mania”. It is a dice type game in which you toss pigs and get a score depending on how they land. I believe this is now being sold as “Pass the Pigs.” in many toy sections of stores. It added a little bit of incentive after each task card.
The students working on social skills used various apps and problem solving using a 5 point scale to rate behaviors. Commercial materials were provided so I didn’t go into my bag although I did have my “Size of the Problem” with me.
So that rounded out my day and I was able to cover everyone with the things in my bag.