4 Tips To Pick A Theme For Your Caseload

4 Tips To Pick A Theme For Your Caseload

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

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

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.

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

Tip #3: Pick A Theme That Inspires You Too

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

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!

Tip #4: Pick A Theme You Can Adapt Across Grades

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:

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!
Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

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! 

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

Join The Themed Therapy SLP Membership!

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! 

Middle School Resources for Distance Learning

Middle School Resources for Distance Learning

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.

middle school teletherapy materials to use during distance learning
Distance Learning Middle School speech therapy ideas

Use YouTube to use for wordless shorts, Simon’s Cat videos, America’s Funniest Videos or your other favorite channels to engage learning. If you need a social pragmatic Google Slide with all the videos, make a copy of mine HERE. 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

EdPuzzle is 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

free websites to use with 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.

Use the website Word Sift to help with reviewing the text and key vocabulary from the passage. This tool makes it a little easier to plan. I learned about this website from Speech Time Fun. Check out her Instagram Stories for more details!

I also love using the website vocab grabber to find tier II vocabulary words to work on with students. Plus, these free articles are great for articulation carryover. 

Articulation Carryover Materials for Middle School Teletherapy

Use my articulation carryover resources to assign work in SeeSaw and Google Classroom. You can check out this tutorial on how to use the Kami Chrome extension to use worksheets you already own!

Social Pragmatic Middle School Teletherapy Resources

Need social pragmatic resources that you can use now and when you get back to real life therapy? You can use this No Prep Social Skills Activities to work on lots of skills including conversation (see how I use the conversation visuals in my IG highlights.) This question and answer conversation activity was something I loved using with my middle school life skills students.

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. 

middle school teletherapy resources for social skills.

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?

websites and materials to use with middle school teletherapy speech sessions.

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!

That Darn R! 10 TPT Speech Therapy Materials to Treat R

That Darn R! 10 TPT Speech Therapy Materials to Treat R

Treating the /r/ phoneme can be tricky, tiresome and just plain annoying for both the clinician and student! I haven’t met an SLP in the elementary, middle school or high school level that doesn’t need more speech therapy materials for r.

speech therapy activities for treating r. Once you get an /r/ established, there are some great activities on TPT.

The best advice I got from a veteran SLP when I asked how to teach a child to say /r/ was “just grab a pair of gloves, a tongue depressor and hope for the best!”

Dwight Schrute sums up most SLP’s feelings about the /r/ phoneme in his office video clip!  He says “R is one of the most menacing of sounds!  That’s why they call it murder and not muck duck!”  My thoughts exactly Dwight. Here is a post by SLP Natalie Snyders about getting a good /r/. There is also some really good ideas from Playing With Words 365 about teaching the /r/ phoneme.

Articulation Activities To Treat The /R/ Phoneme

Here are some TPT products that I have made or bought from TPT that have helped keep my kids motivated and get good results with mastering the /r/!!r initial flip book blog post1.  My interactive initial r and r-blend flipbooks are perfect for your older students that can read and write well! My prevocalic and vocalic r flip books have been great as well!

speech therapy materials for r

2. Figuratively speeching has a great articulation placemat set that is great for sending home for additional practice. It provides activities for the whole week on one sheet with letters included to send home!

primary punch artic practice

3. Primary Punch has some wonderful home practice worksheets that are print n’ go!

erik mini homework r

4. Erik Raj has these super fun Mini homework sheets for articulation.  They have great silly questions with the /r/ phoneme that students can discuss at home.  Great resource for working on carry over!  Plus, it doesn’t waste lots of paper.  I will have my students try to discuss the question with a friend, the teacher and a parent.

vocalic r flashcards

Speech Therapy Materials For /R/

5. My print n’ go flashcards have been very useful in my speech room.  You can either print up, hole punch and hold on a key ring or staple together.  I started putting my flashcards in plastic cover protectors and having students cross off the words as they say their /r/ sound.  Makes for easy therapy prep and LOTS of practice.  I store in a three hole punch folder, so I can send home with the student if I want them to practice over the weekend.

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6. Sublime Speech has these handy Articulation Strips for /r/ that are great to work on /r/ at the word and single sentence level. They are easy to store and have visual cues on the strips to help with reminding students to think about their /r/.

r for homework

7. Miss V’s Speech World has a great  52 Weekly /r/ homework worksheets product that makes planning home practice activities a breeze!!  They last for the entire week and have creative fun activities for the students to complete.

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8.  Dollar Challenge Articulation Activity from Speech Room News is a great activity to get students to get 100 trials per session.  She includes /r/ initial, r-blends and vocalic r sheets as well as homework sheets!!

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9. Articulation Secret Codes from Kiwi Speech are fun worksheets that keep the students engaged while you are drilling with each student in the group.  These are great for home practice activities too!

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10.  Busy Bee Speech has a great product to help with working on generalizing speech sounds into spontaneous speech.  Her Articulation Carry-Over Activities are perfect for therapy sessions or sending home to work on structured conversation.

 

What resources do you use and love for treating the /r/ phoneme?  I would love to add some more resources to my therapy materials stash.  Did I mention that I have 10 kids working on /r/ this year?

Expected and Unexpected Behaviors: A Quick Tip On How to Work On Self Monitoring Skills

I use the vocabulary terms expected and unexpected behaviors from Social Thinking to identify behaviors students are exhibited in different social situations. Expected and unexpected behaviors allows me to acknowledge and praise my students when they are being “expected” for the situation as well as directly let them know when they are being unexpected without lecturing them for 2 minutes about why something is not okay to do.

expected vs. unexpected behaviorsLast year at the middle school, I primarily used expected vs. unexpected terms with my social emotional students as well as my students with social skill deficits.  They learned the terms very quickly; however, when I would verbally point out their behavior (both good and not so good), I got two responses.  I either received defensive comments and student denial about the action/words/tone of the behavior or continued behavior in which I was verbally monitoring their behavior throughout the entire session.

As I would further explain how my students behavior was making me feel, I was met with resistance, rude overtures and sometimes escalated behaviors.  Most people don’t like to be told they are being unexpected! The struggle with our students with social skill deficits is that they do not naturally pick up on social cues to adjust their behavior independently.  SOMEONE has to call them out, so they can learn to survive in the world. Most jobs rely heavily on being able to successfully interactive with other people and if you fail at that, it doesn’t matter if you are an amazing at your job because people remember how they feel rather than the actual job that was performed.

expected vs. unexpected behaviorsI decided that I would implement a visual monitoring system, so that I could take informal data about the percentage of time the student was exhibiting expected behavior, provide a visual cue (so, I could reduce verbal cues aka lectures), and use as an incentive to point out successes with expected behaviors.  Download my easy template HERE or just click on the photo above.  I just glued to construction paper and laminated, so I could use a dry erase marker with it.

During the session, I let the student know that I will be visually tracking their behavior. If they have more unexpected behaviors than expected, they do not earn their incentive (for my higher students, I did 5 stars = hot cheetos, jolly rancher, ipad time, game, etc).  As I see behaviors, I mark expected or unexpected.  If they are being unexpected, I mark unexpected and ignore undesirably comments/behaviors.  I quickly try to mark expected to show the student that I am notice both good and bad behaviors.

With one student in particular, every time I tried to explain that his comments were sounding very rude, I would get a big argument about how he was not doing A,B, or C.  I got the okay from parents to address his behaviors with the terms kind words/tone vs. rude words/tone.  This student would either use rude words or he would say something in a very rude tone for very minimal things such as “I don’t want to play a game” or “I will not seat over there.” I did the exact same system and did not verbally engage the student when I marked rude comments.  He quickly figured out that he had to adjust his behavior to kind because he really didn’t like seeing marks on the rude side. This worked for most of my students, but some students may escalate in behavior if they see the “negative” side, so that is something to consider when using this.

How do you work on self monitoring skills? I would love to add more tools in my toolbox!

The dabbling speechie

 

News-O-Matic App (My FAVORITIST app Ever)!

News-O-Matic App (My FAVORITIST app Ever)!

news o matic in speech therapy

Today, I am going to share one of my MOST favorite apps out there!  It’s called the News O Matic App.  News O Matic App is basically an interactive newspaper that is kid friendly and filled with articles about current events.  This app has SAVED me tons of time in terms of prep work. Not to mention, my middle schoolers love using the News O Matic App.  We are covering lots of great language using this app.  The News O Matic App creators write 5 articles a day and there are videos, pictures, selected vocabulary with definitions from the article and lots more!

Youtube Video On News-O-Matic

Here is a youtube video to see what the app looks like and what is featured each day.  You can also go on Press4kids to get more information and ask questions about this app and how to use it with your students and/or classroom.

How to use New-o-matic app in speech therapy. It is a great app for increasing engagement while working on articulation, inferencing, grammar and language development.

What is News-O-Matic

Quoted from this article News-O-Matic “features five daily stories, each reviewed by an on-staff psychologist to ensure safety, covering national and international news, sports, arts, science and more. The app is designed to encourage students to engage with the stories through drawings, writing, voting for their favorite articles and asking interview questions of politicians, athletes and others.”

news o matic guideOnce you are registered with your app, the new-o-matics folks email you weekly with a guide for the articles for the week.  They include comprehension questions with choices and graphic organizers to work on different concepts.  This week it is working on finding details from the text.

news o matic extra funThere are daily games that can be played, an area where students can draw picture from one of the articles and they can also write in to New-o-matic with an opinion or share why they like the app!

Why I love News-O-Matic

  • It is updated every day with new articles and content, so I have new therapy materials every day.
  • This app has a wide variety of topics that appeal to all my students interests.  It gives the student’s a choice for which article they want to read.
  • This app already has vocabulary highlighted from the text with definitions, so you don’t have to prep finding word definitions in the article.
  • I am emailed weekly with a teacher’s guide including comprehension questions I could ask the students.
  • This app is colorful, uses real photos and contains videos on many of the articles, so your lesson can be easily adapted and scaffolded for your visual learners.
  • This app has the capability of the student reading to themselves or you can have the text read out loud if reading fluency is an issue.
  • There are 5 articles on one day, so my student’s have a choice for what they want to learn about.  The students are more motivated to learn about things that interest them.
  • The articles can be used to target articulation, speech fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, summarizing,etc.
  • You can adjust the reading level to fit your student’s needs, which is pretty cool.
  • There is a drawing section in which the student can draw a picture.  This is a great way for students to work on visualizing.  They can draw a picture to help them remember the new vocabulary words they learned, the main idea of the article or what the article made them feel/think.
  • The use of non-fiction text is very much common core aligned, so this would match up with lots of your goals (wh-question, main idea, summarizing, cause/effect).
  • I learn stuff too!! I get to stay up-to-date right along side my students and learn about things that I might not have caught in a “grown up” article.

Considerations before buying News-O-Matic

  • You need internet connection, so if you do not have access to wifi in your room, then you will have trouble gaining access to this app.
  • This is a free app to access some of the articles, but you have to pay the subscription fee to get ALL the features of the app.  You also have to buy the app every year to get all the features.
  • The articles are reviewed by a psychologist before they are put on the app, but some of the topics or news stories could be sensitive to your students based on their cultural beliefs.  Always a good idea to preview the articles before discussing in a group or class if possible.

I am still learning more about this app and how I can incorporate it in the therapy.  This is one of my go-to materials for therapy when I have mixed language groups or if my students are really not thrilled with my lesson.  All in all, this is definitely a MUST HAVE for any SLP, especially those that have high caseloads, travel to multiple sites or work with upper elementary/middle school/high school level students.

Grab the school edition on itunes and get a full year subscription for $9.99.

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