Ahhhh, Parent/teacher conference week. Gotta love it. Actually, I get to spend a lot of my time during this week doing paperwork. The kids have half days all week, so I miss nearly half my caseload when schedules are all rearranged. There are a few kids that I get to see, though. And since I didn’t have anything planned I whipped out my “I Spy Spooky Night” book. With my artic kids we found pictures that had our sound in it. For language we incorporated describing the items (using EET for many). For grammar kiddos you could work on putting words into sentences. For kids working on following directions, you could tell them that they have to point to the objects in the order that they’re listed on the page or find objects that are animals, or start with a certain sound, etc. This is SO hard for many of them, as they want to just shout out every item they see! I Spy books are great for so many things! Categorization, rhyming, s-blends, you name it!
Some people love lesson planning, some people hate it. Some people are required to do one, some (like me) have administrators who probably couldn’t care less. Some people need it to be able to teach effectively, some teach best when it’s a last minute POMA.
Returning to my second year of “therapizing”, I realized I needed to do something different in regards to lesson planning. I often think of great ideas, but it’s always last minute– I would need to print/cut out/compile too many materials.
Here is my basic strategy to lesson planning this year. It’s ever-changing and I might be doing something completely different in 3 years. But, it’s what is working for me right now.
1. Pick a theme — I love thematic units and believe that they really enhance student’s learning. I attended Char Boshart’s workshop “Maximizing Your Language Therapy: Innovative Language Interventions for Small Group and In-Class Instruction”. She pointed out that themes provide continuity, repetition, and relevancy to a student, if these themes are well thought out. They can be used for any age group and for any length of time (she knew of some people who have one theme that they incorporate into therapy the whole year). Themes often also correlate to curriculum and activities that are often going on outside of your four therapy walls. I tend to use the seasons/holidays as themes in my therapy room.
2. Pick books that go along with your theme — Spoiler, I also love literacy-based therapy, even for my articulation kids. If I’m looking for a quick activity, I often grab a book allowed and ask artic students to listen for words that have their sound in it. I started off my year with a “Back to School Theme” (obviously my themes are not very original!). I read “If You Take a Mouse to School” and “The Principal From the Black Lagoon”. NOTE: You can totally switch step 1 and step 2, especially if you don’t foresee using holidays or seasons as your themes.
4. Brainstorm/Pinterest activities based on that theme/book. Nowadays, my brainstorming sessions have to include Pinterest. Another tip: If you foresee yourself using the sames themes frequently, make boards specific for that theme. I have a ton of separate boards on Pinterest for SLP stuff (e.g., SLP–Fall, SLP–Preschool, SLP–Articulation). The day that they add boards within boards on Pinterest I will be so happy. After you have a few crafts/games/activities find the ones that you think would be most feasible for your time frame. Remember, some themes can last weeks! But if you’re doing a week for “Talk Like A Pirate Day”, you probably don’t want to pick a craft that would take several sessions to finish.
5. Refer to any thematic workbooks you may have. My favorite I use are the Listening for ___ All Year ‘Round books (by Linguisystems) and Year Round Literature for Language and Artic (by SuperDuper). The Listening for ___ All Year Round follow the same character (Brennan Bear) through all the season. Each book is separated into months, with different stories, activities, and homework/notes home. There are four books sold through Linguisystems (Articulation, Language, Basic Concepts, and Vocabulary). Year-Round Literature for Language and Artic is also a good one. It has a subsection for each season as well as sections for dinosaurs, circus, bodies, farm, town, and ocean. Each thematic section has vocabulary sheets, print out games, and worksheets. Even if some of the things are too easy for my older kids, they still enjoy the games that I print out (a lot of point-based games and collect-as-many-as-you-can card games).
6. Peruse through other non-thematic workbooks. I then start looking through all my other books (most of which I own digitally) for anything that might remotely relate to my theme. Say and Do books are my favorite for the younger kids. All of the worksheets in there have pictures or themes associated with them. This past week I went through and printed out any pages that had to do with school or football.
7. Decide which activities are appropriate for which students. This is a brief look at how I organize my lesson plan notes (this LP never got finished because I was sick). Obviously you could go more in depth, but I just briefly write down the activities so I don’t forget. I kind of have an idea in my head of what kids fall into which groups. You could also do this student by student or group by group.
This may seem like a really long process, but I really hope this will cut down on my lesson planning in future years. Here’s how I organize all my paperwork. I plan to have a crate for each season. Inside I have generic fall worksheets/games, Halloween materials, Thanksgiving materials, Monthly homework that goes with Sept-Nov, and any book companion packs that have to do with fall.
I’m sure everyone has their own way of doing lesson planning, but this is what is working for me right now!
POMA, a fun new acronym I learned from fellow SLPs, means “Pulled Out of My A$$”. A great term for those days when we have no other choice but create a last minute lesson plan and it seems to work miraculously. The kids love it, I love it, and inevitably I will forget it. So I thought I’d start documenting them for me and you!
This week’s POMA was a quick one. Last 15 minutes of Friday, articulation kid coming through the door (5 min late), and I couldn’t stand the idea of playing more Hi Ho Cherry-o. I grabbed the pack of /s/ cards and told my student that if she could get through the entire stack of cards before the bell rang, I would give her three extra dice rolls on my game-board incentive (for a trip to the prize box). BOOM. Done. I got so many more productions than I would have if I had played a game in the regular allotted time for her speech session and she had a great time.
Not a particularly brilliant idea, but it’s quick, easy, and great for squeezing in productions with almost no materials whatsoever.
Back to school doesn’t happen for me until after Labor Day, but I know a lot of you SLPs have already started. Check out two of my BTS themed products (on sale through August)!
My Back to School Theme Mini Artic Lapbook is great for working with articulation students. I’ve already highlighted it in another post — it’s on sale for $1 right now. Great for articulation students.
I’ve also created a book companion to If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff. Great for school/fall themes. It has a lot of good relevant vocabulary for students and repetitive themes. Here is what I’ve included:
Basic vocab cards
Comprehension question cards (with and without picture cues)
Irregular and regular past tense verb cards with multiple choice
Sentence Strips — cut out and rearrange or identify nouns, verbs, etc.
Story Map — great for students who need picture choices for questions
Category Sort (food, toys, school supplies) — pictures included to put into the appropriate lunchbox
Sequencing activities — pictures and text
Barrier game — place mouse and school objects in the classroom, good for following directions!
2 open ended board games
Open-ended “collecting cards” game — students collect school supplies but have to put cards back if they get an “exploded science experiment” card!
If You Take A Mouse To Speech Class worksheet — ask your students what would happen if they brought a mouse to speech!
Venn Diagram for this book and “If You GIve A Mouse a Cookie”
Coloring page of mouse and school bus
The “collecting cards” game comes for free with the preview!
Check them out at my TPT store and leave some reviews! And have an AWESOME start to your school year!
Anyone else struggle with knowing what to do those first sessions when you come back to school? Very unlikely I’m going to lesson plan those days! I’ve created a new product that would be fun to do with speech/artic students.
A Back-to-School-Themed Mini Artic Lapbook! I love lapbooks and I think they’re more fun to do with kids than worksheets. I’ve called it “mini” because it goes with regular size construction paper (9×12) instead of the large 12×18 size that I usually use with students. A tri-fold creates a fun-size product for kids to take home with them.
- “Speech Goals” notebook for kids to write the sounds they are working on in the inside
- “My Words Pocket” for students to put mini artic pictures or write their words on slips of paper to include. Note: I did not include artic words to put inside, but if that is something people would like, I can update the product! Tip: Use cardstock to write words on for durability!
- “Sound Scavenger Hunt” inside the school building to draw or write words that you find around the school! You could make this another activity where you walk around the school to find words that contain their sound!
- “People at School” is designed to help your students learn your name as well as their teacher’s, principal’s, and O.T.’s (if pertinent). Again, if interest is shown, I can update with more people!
- Cover page also included to put on the front and color in (color option also available)Check out Back to School Mini Artic Lapbook at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Currently on sale for $1.50!
If any SLPs out there are like me, they cringe at the answers they get every Monday when asking students what they did over the weekend: “I don’t know,” “I don’t remember,” or the dreaded: “Nothing.” Of course you must have done SOMETHING! However, one answer that I don’t cringe at is “I played video games.” Now that is something I can work with!
Confession, I am a bit of a nerd, so a conversation about video games can be enjoyable for me on a regular day, but I jump at the opportunity in a speech and language therapy session. Contrary to a lot of belief, video gaming can be an engaging activity that facilitates social interaction, language and reading (not to mention math skills, lateral thinking, and spatial awareness!). Video games, especially those with a multi-player option, also encourages children to problem solve together, discuss, and take turns.
Even single player games can be engaging for multiple people. When I was little, my brother would play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Being four years younger, I was automatically deemed unworthy to hold the controller, but I was allowed to read the guide book aloud to him. I loved it. I remembering pouring over that thing – enhancing my reading skills, answering questions, giving directions, following directions, categorization, and describing. My boyfriend recounts the expansive vocabulary in his games, which he attests aided him on the ACTs in high school.
I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly proud of my students when I realize they are learning vocabulary such as “achievement” and “inventory” on the weekends!
My main goal of this post is to encourage those who brush over the “video games” answers. I realize that many may not know as much about video games, but you don’t have to in order to take advantage of the situation!
Questions to follow-up with when a student reports that the only thing they did over the weekend was “played video games”:
- What game did you play?
- Did you play by yourself or with others?
- Who do you play as (i.e., who is the main character)?
- What do you do in the game?
- Where does the game take place?
- What kind of items are in the game? (Almost all games have items or materials – things you collect. A great categorization opportunity!)
- How do you win?
- Is it your favorite game? Why?
Any of these questions could spark an interesting conversation. Use that time to assess speech, sequencing, describing, vocabulary, categorization or narrative discourse! I also have a FREE worksheet on TPT to help guide these questions. Also great for social groups — have the students “interview” each other on their favorite games!
If you are hoping to create activities/incentives/decorations for your speech room and were looking for a video game theme or if you just want to learn a bit more, there are many wiki sites that are very helpful for understanding video games (in case you don’t have the time or money to go play them yourself!).
Here are a few of the more popular video games your kids might be playing:
Super Mario is pretty self-explanatory. So much can be, and has been done, with this franchise. Search Teachers Pay Teachers if you want some ideas for activities. Peachie Speechie has a great FREE Super Mario Inspired Game!
Minecraft is a creative game that essentially plays like virtual legos. The character collects resources to make materials needed for building. Great for categorization.
Kingdom Hearts is a Disney story-based game which features a main character, Sora, who travels to different Disney worlds (such as Arabia, Neverland, Wonderland, etc.) to help Mickey. A good one for narratives.
Assassin’s Creed is another story-based game, this one taking place in a historical context. There are many different games in this series. The setting ranges from the Crusades to the Revolutionary War. A little more violent of a game.
Call of Duty is a first person shooter game. Another violent one, but as I am not the parent of these children, I cannot control that! This is a popular one, though. The original games take place in WWII, but recent ones occur in modern time.
These are just some of the more popular games out right now, but there are so many more out there that your kids are probably playing. Take advantage of that — situations where the students have the opportunity to “teach” something to teacher are great! Hopefully you won’t feel like you’ve run into a conversation blockage next time a kid answers with “video games” when asked what they did over the summer or weeked. Now I just have to tackle the “Nothing” answer….
Last year I was given my very first speech room to make my own! So, like any busy first year teacher who had just made a giant move cross country, I threw my few picture books and thrift store-found board games in the small closet and called it good! I thought for my first post, I’d take you on a little tour to get to know me and my speech room a little better!
I am definitely NOT a Type A personality. I know that a lot of SLPs are, and I definitely find myself comparing my ways to those of other great SLPs online. However, I still think I can do some great things in my little speech room, organized or not! My room is tiny, but I’m lucky to have a connecting office space that I share with the other full time SLP and rotating OTs and PTs. Our desks and computers are out there. I think it’s a great set up to be able to collaborate with my SpEd team so easily, but still be able to be completely focused on my kids when I’m in the therapy room. No ding from my computer telling me I have emails or phones ringing (as long as I turn off my email notifications from my iPad!)
The game board you see on my wall was one of my favorite parts of the room last year! It is a speechie-take on Chutes and Ladders, by Sublime Speech. I use it instead of a sticker chart. When students come in they are allowed to roll the dice and move their personal game piece with their name on it. At the end of the speech session, I let them roll again. Usually I ask them quick questions such as check for comprehensions or ask what targets they are working on (so many of my students struggle with this!). The kids love rolling the dice, and none of them have noticed that they get to the prize box A LOT less frequently than if I gave them a prize for every 10 stickers. I find that for students who came 1-3 times per week, I gave each one about 2-3 prizes last year. And I was pleasantly surprised that rarely did I get a whiner when they had to slide down the slide! (I found making sound effects helped and ended up in giggles). You can find a free download of the game board here!
I try to review my students goals or “targets” with them frequently and often write them up on the board. If I’m not using the small white boards for that, I take them off the big white board (they are Velcro-ed on) and use them for the students to write on. This is a great space saver since I have a small white board! (I got the adorable EET caterpillar from Teaching Resource Resort for free!).
Note my “Articulation Goals” chart on the side. I know I got the idea from another blog out there, but I cannot find it anywhere! I will update when I find the original poster. Basically it’s a drop down of the articulation hierarchy – Sound in Isolation, Words, Phrase, Sentences, Reading, Conversation, and Generalization. I plan on writing students’ names on clothespins so they can clip their name onto the level they are performing. Lets them see how far till they “graduate”! If you want a free download, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers page!
Do any of you guys have great ideas for small spaces? Let me know!
Four years of undergrad…check!
2 Years of grad school…check!
So what’s next!?!?! I’ve toiled and strived and I’m finally a certified Speech-Language Pathologist (CCC’s pending, actually). So now I’m a knowledgeable, competent, ready to take on the world SLP, right? HA! Hardly feels like it. I’m starting this blog because I want to be part of the technology-based wonder that is our online SLP community these days. I want to share what I’ve learned, but mostly I want to communicate with others! Who-da-thunk, an SLP wanting to communicate 😉
I love language, I love speech, I love education, and I love the internet! So let the “pun” start (ok…I may also love puns…)