When I first began as an SLP, I started with a large caseload that fluctuated between 72-83 students. There was no time in my day to plan for those individual students. So, my brain immediately went to using theme-based lessons that I could adapt for all of my grade levels. Using theme-based lessons that are easily adapted helped me reduce my planning time (and brain power) by hours! I am heading into my 15th year as an SLP, and using themes continues to be a super helpful strategy! I want to share with you 4 tips for picking a great theme for your caseload!
Tip #1 : Pick A Theme That Is Motivating
The #1 tip I have for selecting a theme is to make sure it’s something that is high interest and highly motivating for your students. This is a much easier task for my younger students than it is for my older elementary or middle school students. I can usually capture my younger students’ interest for any theme by simply incorporating dinosaurs, legos, or something shiny! My older students are not so easily entertained (as I’m sure many of you understand). Another SLP shared with me a little while ago that she likes to poll her older students about what they are interested in at the beginning of her school year. Her students’ answers help drive her lesson planning and theme selection. This is something that can easily be incorporated into your therapy plans for your first week back.
Why is this my #1 tip? The more we can build our students’ interest in the lessons and themes we are using, the more buy-in we’ll see, which we know leads to more progress.
Tip #2: Keep Your Students’ Environment In Mind
When picking a theme, think about what is going to be relevant to your student. What is something your students can relate to or experience in their day-to-day lives? I like to pick themes about the seasons, the environment around my student, on-going classroom topics, etc.
Selecting themes that are personally relevant to my students helps build that connection between therapy and real life (can’t forget about that generalization!). A great theme for this summer would be the Summer Olympics, especially for those of you doing ESY.
The themes you pick should also be inspiring and exciting for you too! Of course, my students’ interests will always trump mine (#therapistlife). However, if you can find themes that are as interesting and motivating to you as they are to your students, then you’re going to kill that session! Your excitement will shine through and therapy will be really fun for you and your student.
For example, I love selecting camping themes because I love going camping and hiking and it’s also a theme that my students love. This makes our camping themed therapy sessions really, genuinely, fun!
Picking a theme that you can adapt across multiple grade levels is they key to save yourself planning time. For example, an apple theme is great for younger elementary students, older elementary students, and middle schoolers. This theme can also be adapted for my older student with higher needs or benefit from a very supported classroom. I found that many of my students with this profile had language skills similar to some of my elementary student. I was able to take the same concepts and adapt them with age-appropriate photos and materials that are respectful to those students. Here are some sample activity ideas using an apples theme across different age groups:
In A Theme Rut?
If you’re having a hard time picking the right themes for your students, check out my free Themed Therapy Planning Guide. It has over 100 seasonal and non-seasonal therapy theme ideas for you to choose from! This planning guide also comes with an editable lesson plan template you can use to help plan your themed therapy sessions. If you’re still having a tough time finding the right theme for your students, I would also recommend collaborating with other teachers. See what themes are being incorporated in your students’ classrooms that can also be incorporated and worked on in speech therapy!
If you’re loving themed therapy planning that can be adapted across grade level to save you hours of planning time, check out the Themed Therapy SLP Membership. With this membership you will receive new themed materials to use with your students every month! To kick-off this challenge, I will be hosting a 5-day theme organizational challenge on Facebook. Join now for a sneak peak into the membership, great organizational tips from other themester SLP’s, and fun giveaways! Click on the photos below to learn more.
This blog post is based on my recent Facebook live called, “What Makes a Great Theme for Your Caseload“. Make sure to check it out!
This week I wanted to share about some resources that will help you with doing teletherapy with your middle school students. It has been a few years since I have worked with those ladies and gents, but I remember it like it was yesterday. For many years, I worked at a middle school and to get these friends excited about seeing me was a daily challenge sometimes.
Distance Learning Resources for Middle School
News-O-Matic is an app for your iPad that is offering free subscriptions until June 30th for families and teachers. I love that there are daily articles and students can choose what they want to read about. There are different levels, and it can be translated into Spanish. You can read more about the app HERE.
Jeopardy Labs or Jeopardy PowerPoint were two digital materials I used to create custom Jeopardy games for my students. If you get the PowerPoint version, just make sure to “save as” and re-title the version. You can make a fluency one, articulation, vocabulary, and social language to then use in teletherapy or assign in Google Classroom. Jeopardy Labs is a cool tool because you can use games already created by other users. So, you could share the workload with your other fellow middle school SLPs and each creates a game and then share.
UseYouTubeto use for wordless shorts, Simon’s Cat videos,America’s Funniest Videosor your other favorite channels to engage learning. If you need a social pragmatic Google Slide with all the videos, make a copy of mineHERE. I LOVE wordless short videos too. You can target so many skills with those, so mixed groups are easier with these types of videos.
Some of my favorite wordless videos to use are Simon’s Cat videos. They are so versatile because they are mini video comics, short in length, and always entertaining. You can read more about these videos HERE.
Using EdPuzzle with your Middle School Students
EdPuzzleis a website that you can take a video and add in questions for your student to answer while watching the video. This allows you to track their comprehension. It will pause the video when you embed a question. Plus, you can search for other lessons already created and assign them to students on Google Classroom. You can see a tutorial about how to create your own EdPuzzle video on my YouTube channel. Speech Time Fun also has some EdPuzzle videos already prepped for you that can be used in teletherapy sessions.
Check out this YouTube video to see how you can use your favorite videos to create lessons for your middle school teletherapy sessions.
Free Websites to Use for Your Middle School Teletherapy
If you haven’t used NewsELA or ReadWorks, you seriously need to go check them out. You can find FREE articles that are at your student’s age level and interest to use in therapy.
Pick a topic that your student’s want to discuss. On one side of the screen put the visual support for asking questions or making comments. On the other side, adjust your website tab and upload the resource using your Kami Chrome extension. This extension allows you to annotate on the PDF. Share your entire screen. While the students are discussing the topic you can give visual feedback about their body language, questions/comments, talking too much or too little. This gives them the visual feedback they need to self monitor their social pragmatics in a conversational setting.
You can use Flipgrid to have your students respond with a facial expression, practice answering a question while staying on topic, or work on answering and asking questions with you as a distance learning activity. Watch the tutorial above to see how you can get started with this tool.
What Digital Materials Do You Use for Middle School Teletherapy Lessons?
What digital tools do you use with your middle school students?
Do you have any favorite Chrome extensions that help you in your teletherapy sessions?
I would love to know of any digital programs, YouTube videos or games that you have found to be engaging for your students. Share in the comments!
Have you hear of the Multiple Intelligence Test? It is an online tool that educators can use to determine their students intelligences. As a teacher, this can be beneficial for knowing how your students learn best. As an SLP, I utilized this tool with some of my middle school students in unique ways! Today, I wanted to share how to use the Multiple Intelligence Test in speech therapy.
How I heard about the Multiple Intelligence Test
Let’s rewind about 6 years. This dabbling speechie was working in the middle school and high school settings.
During a professional development training at my middle school we learned about how to incorporate activities that helped teach to all different intelligences.
Each of us had to take the test and discovered our multiple intelligences. Next, in small groups, we discussed how to incorporate these different intelligences in lessons. I loved learning about my OWN multiple intelligences. It was empowering to know how I learned best. It also explained why math was such a taxing subject for my brain. Math isn’t a natural intelligence for me.
What are the seven types of intelligence
Here are the seven types of intelligence
I will BET ya money that 90% of SLPs have similar intelligences. Can you guess mine?? I was very strong in the area of Musical Intelligence (hence all the music blog posts…lol), Linguistic Intelligence (becoming an SLP was my fate), and Interpersonal Intelligence (navigating the social world is a breeze for me).
You can Google Multiple Intelligence Test and you will find some tests to try out. I used this one and there is also another Multiple Intelligence Test on Edupotia.
An Idea was Sparked…
My teenager friends are a unique bunch. One minute they love you, the next they are complaining. Most of them DON’T want your help and have no idea why they might possibly need speech therapy. I know we have pressure as SLPs to maximize the therapy session. Here’s the hard truth. Some days, half the session is spent complaining about the lesson. On those real fun days with the middle school crowd, the WHOLE session is filled with refusal to work. So I thought, “why not take the time to try this test out? What is the worst that could happen?”
Considerations for using The Multiple Intelligence Test in Speech Therapy
SLPs that work with students that are aged 15 and older, have to do transition goals with them for career/work paths. I remember having to do this and not sure if any of that had changed. I used this tool as a way to work on some of those goals.
Students that are strong readers, can take the test independently. For students that need some support with reading, the SLP can read each question to the student.
Taking this test during a speech therapy session may take 10-15 minutes to complete. This test is a good first week of speech activity to build trust and rapport. It is also a good exercise to do when your students are feeling burnt out and frustrated with school or their disorder.
Using The Multiple Intelligence Test in Speech Therapy
Students with social skill delays-I used this test to show my students with pragmatic language delays what ways they are intelligent to boost their self-esteem. We also compare/contrast my test to theirs. Many of my students score low with interpersonal intelligence. I however, scored high in this area. This was my “proof” as to why they needed to see me for speech therapy. I explained to them that I am really good at talking to people and knowing how to read body language.
Students with speech fluency disorders– I used the multiple intelligences test to expand their self image. Some of my students only see themselves as someone who stutters. This test allowed me to show some of my students how they are more than just a person who stutters. They have abilities and intelligences that define them beyond just their communication difficulties.
Students with language disorders-With some of my students that have language impairments, the intelligence test helped myself and the student understand how they may learn best. If they scored high with musical intelligence, then we could make up a song or add a melody when learning prefixes and suffixes. Students that scored well with kinaesthetic intelligence may benefit from using hand movements when learning new vocabulary.
Speaking for myself, taking this test just helped affirm my identity and strengths that I can share with the world. It solidified how I learn and helped me to feel more confident about my skills. I think with some of our students taking this test could help affirm all the amazing things about them that they don’t acknowledge or realize they possess. It also gives you some talking points for why you are the right gal or guy for the job to help them.
My students LOVED hearing that I stink at math. It really helped them to see me as a person and realize that I am not perfect, either.
How would you use the multiple intelligence test in your speech therapy sessions?
Just because I work at the middle school level doesn’t mean I can’t plan cool themes for my kiddos (yes, my teenagers are still MY kiddos). Today, I share some winter therapy ideas for middle school students! It is nice to align activities to seasons because it is relevant to them in the present day!
Some of my students go up to the snow during the winter and the material is more motivating. You just have to find creative and more mature ways to present the information, so they think it’s cool. I use a lot of technology with my middle school students and it helps make the activity feel more grown up and modern. Google and youtube are my best friends!
The Expressive Expanding Tool has been great for some of my students to work on describing items and using the tool as a pre-write. I just type in specific words in google and use the images to show students the vocabulary word. If they still don’t know what I am talking about, I look it up on youtube to show them a video. In the picture above, we were describing a snow blower. Snow blowers are a bit foreign to us Sacramento folk as we have to drive 2 hours to get to snow!
Did you watch the show America’s Funniest Home Videos when you were a kid? I can’t believe it’s still on the air, but it is! I used to love watching that show. Well, I discovered that there are video clips on youtube from that show and decided to try it out in therapy! They have some great winter clips! Here are my ideas for how you can use these clips in therapy:
I have a group of boys that crack jokes and laugh the WHOLE session. They are now working on controlling themselves during my lesson, so they can watch some funny videos at the end of the session. Once they get their work done, I let them laugh away as they watch the videos!!
Watch the videos to work on perspective taking and what could be in people’s thought bubbles.
With my social skills groups we worked on making predictions about what might happen next in the clip, making comments about the clips, thinking of questions we could ask our peers about the clips and my favorite, wait for it…….thinking of empathetic comments we could say to the people who may have fallen or gotten hurt in the video clips.
I had some of articulation students explain what was happening in the video clips using their best sounds! Have your students write sentences about the video clips using transition words, conjunctions and adjectives to work on creating more complex sentences! What else could you target with these funny videos?
Today I want to share how to use Bubble Talk in speech therapy with your upper elementary and middle school students. When I saw this game at Target, I had to have it. I think you will want it too! The format of the game is similar to Apples to Apples. You place a photo card in the middle of the table and each player finds a “talk caption” that they think would best represent the people or animals in the photo and puts it face down in a pile.
The judge shuffles the cards and then reads the talk bubbles out loud for the group. Next, the judge picks the “talk bubble” that they think goes best with the photo and that person gets a point. This ends the round and then you get a new photo. Everyone can be the judge, but I was the judge in the speech room to avoid too much conflict.
There are pictures on both sides of the cards, so there are plenty of cards to make this game last for a while.
Here is how I use this game in therapy:
Each round is really quick, so it is a great reinforcer for fluency and articulation goals in between production practice.
I used my visual attribute strip and had my vocabulary students describe something in the photo. Above is a picture of a baby in a drawer. The student had to describe the dresser by attributes.
My higher functioning social thinkers really liked this game and I got a lot of spontaneous eye contact, comments and initiation without prompting or asking. This is also a great way to incorporate humor.
Most of these photos require people to use context clues to determine what is happening. These photos are great for working making smart guesses, inferencing and predictions.
Use these photos to have students create sentences using conjunctions, noun-verb agreement, and verb tense.
Let the students bring in photos from home to use with the game. Before using the picture, the student has to retell who, what, where, when, and why about the photo. This targets personal narration and language organization.
Talking about what is expected vs. unexpected about the photo and what the person may be feeling or thinking can be incorporated. There is a photo of a man dressed as “super man” trimming the hedges in his yard. We talked about how this might make people have uncomfortable thoughts about us.
You could also target think vs. say as well as let the kids make their own talk bubble cards for fun.
Things to consider with this game:
There are two giant stacks of talking bubble cards, which is awesome, but you need to filter through the cards to make sure they are school appropriate. I found a card “That’s what she said”. I don’t want any uncomfortable moments with my middle school boys (enough said).
I would also filter through the photos to make sure they would be appropriate. Most are, but you just never know.
This game is best used with kids who are exhibiting higher social thinking skills and cognition. There are a lot of underlying skills required to understand and enjoy this game. My 4th-5th general ed students loved it as well as my middle school students, so don’t be afraid to try this with upper elementary students.
You can also snag this game on amazon (amazon affiliate link provided). Since I have such awesome followers, I wanted to give this game away for FREE to one lucky person. Enter below!