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A Quick Tip From The Dabbling Speechie: An Easy Way To Take Data With Your Language Groups

quick tips twoI love doing whole group lessons with my language kiddos you can cover a lot of language skills.  Lately, I have been using non-fiction text and articles to target vocabulary, inferencing, grammar, answering wh-questions and citing evidence.  The therapy is more engaging when everyone is discussing the same topic, but it can be difficult to take data during the session.  Usually each student only answer 1-2 questions independently, which doesn’t give me very accurate data because if they miss one question, then they are only 50% accurate.  One of my great SLP friends gave me her little tip about taking group data and I have been using it ever since!

quick tip taking data in a whole groupWhen I want to progress monitor my students, I grab one article or passage and photo copy it.  I also photo copy the questions and answer choices (used Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension: Understanding Everday Information) or have the questions prepared ahead of time that I will read out loud to the students.  I put file folders up, so people can’t see each others answers and have them write their answers on scratch paper.  This time I had them read the passage to themselves and answer the multiple choice questions. I wanted to see how they do independently as this is how it is in the classroom setting.  Then, I either review the answers or grade them at a later time, so I can move onto another activity!

That activity took my two language groups about 10-15 minutes to complete and I got some great data from each student!  We had time to play my “inference challenge” game, which I was to get even more data!! Oh yeah!

quick tips challenge gameIn previous weeks, we were working on making “inferences” and citing the evidence to back up our “smart guess”.  Last week, we did an “inferencing challenge” where the winner got two sour punch straws!  Everyone got one for trying their best.

quick tip taking data in a whole group file folderI used task cards from Rachel Lynette’s TPT store which had awesome inferencing passages.  The students could get a point for answering the inference question and another point for citing the evidence.  This way I could award a point if they got part of the answer correct.  I had each student write down the answers and then share with the group before I revealed the correct answer.  The kids loved the competition aspect, I got better performance from the group and I took data for each student without it being influenced by other people’s participation.

How do you take data with your upper elementary and middle school language groups?

Winter Therapy ideas for Middle School Students

Winter Therapy ideas for Middle School Students

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!

winter therapy ideas for middle school that are fun with just using some youtube videos!


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!

winter therapy ideas middle school studentsThe 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!

winter therapy ideas for middle school that are age appropriate, but still easy and fun to use.

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!!

winter therapy ideas middle school studentsWatch the videos to work on perspective taking and what could be in people’s thought bubbles.

winter therapy ideas middle school studentsWith 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?

Interview and conversation skills: Functional Communication With Aided Supports

At my middle school placement, I push in to the SDC functional skills classes to work on social skills and functional communication. I began thinking about life skills my students will need when they are adults.  Interview and conversation skills are very important for getting jobs as well as being a part of a community!

questions and interview long pinMost of the students in these classes have Intellectual Disabilities, but they are all verbal. Some students need visual supports to make novel utterances more independently.  It is pretty tough planning lessons for this bunch because there are various levels, so some need visuals and the lessons have to be middle school friendly even though most of the students are functioning around a 1st-2nd grade academic level.

As a team, we have been picking themes for the week and/or month to help guide our lesson planning.  I did these activities back at the beginning of the school year and then tried to make this pack more formal, so I could save the lesson plans for next year!

My kids are too young for practicing job interview questions, but I thought they still needed to work on how to ask/answer questions in conversation with peers and in more formal situations like talking with the PRINCIPAL!  Yes, my students were able to formally interview the principals using the “favorite” question guide.  There are three activities in this pack: greetings, turn taking in conversation with peers, and job interview skills.  I include a lesson plan with links to youtube videos that support these skills.  I have several students on the autism spectrum, so these videos are perfect for video modeling (evidenced based practice)!

First, I show the class the youtube video.  I embedded the greetings video that I found to give you an example.  Then, we break up into groups, or stay as a whole class to discuss expected vs. unexpected behaviors.  I will have the students and staff role play and the class rates if the students were expected or unexpected.expected vs. unexpected behaviors for conversationHere is an example of my “rate my communication” forms that I made!

I put velcro on one of my clear vinyl dry erase pouches to use with my expected vs. unexpected file folder activities.  These are great to do during the lesson and then allow the teacher to use them the rest of the week with students.  Some of my students can read well, so there is a sheet with just words and then a sheet with visual supports for those that need help with reading the words.

This video is perfect for showing turn taking with peers and seeing that other people are having thoughts about us when we are talking!  I loved this video!  My kids practiced asking each other about their favorite things and working on making comments too.  This was a great activity to help lead into asking/answering questions in a more formal setting.

interview and conversation #3

There are visuals for asking and answering questions with peers about their favorite things.  I also included Q and A visuals, to help some of my kids understand who should be asking the question and who is answering the question.

I showed the job interview video to talk about what to do during a job or formal interview.  My kids aren’t ready for practicing for job interviews, but I wanted them to try to practice talking with someone in a formal setting.  So, I asked my principals if they would be willing to help and they said “yes!”.  We have a follow up appointment coming soon to re-interview them.  We talked about how greetings with adults and professionals are different compared to their peers.  We also practiced what kind of body language we need to have during the interview.  I filmed them all and then we got to critique everyone’s performance!

I loved all these lessons and I hope you do too!!  The first three peeps to comment below with some cool activities you have been doing in your speech room, will get this pack for FREE!

Using “Elf” movie clips in  speech therapy!

Using “Elf” movie clips in speech therapy!

elf movie in speech therapy

If you haven’t seen the movie, Elf, you need to rent it this holiday season! This weekend I watched the movie with my family and thought of some ways on how to utilize this movie with my older middle school students.  Here are some of the clips from the movie with my ideas!

My Favorite Elf Scene

Use this clip to identify non-verbal signals that the characters are showing and what message they are sending with their body language.   Have the students generate questions to ask each other in the group about what they thought about the clip and discuss what Buddy should have done when he saw the raccoon.

Perspective Taking and “Thought Bubble”

This clip is great for talking about what is in the character’s “thinking” bubbles as well as a way to talk about expected vs. unexpected behaviors at the dinner table.

elf movie in speech therapyStudents with language goals can practice describing the “setting” or the “characters” of the movie using the EET tool or an attribute wheel.  I made some visuals for some of my lower kids to help with identifying expected vs. unexpected behaviors.  We also worked on “what are we thinking about Buddy?” with my visual thought bubble.

This clip is hilarious!  If your students haven’t seen this movie, you can target making inferences about what might happen next.  Have the students document clues they see in the clip to help them make social inferences about what the characters are feeling and/or thinking.

This clip has some good expected vs. unexpected behaviors in it!  It is a great way to talk about the expected way to cross the street, go up an escalator and what to do in a bathroom stall.  Buddy does have some expected behavior in this clip as he is walking through the mall.

Do you have any kids on your caseload that like to pick up gum off the ground and eat it!?  Well, I actually work with a student that I caught doing that at lunch.  This is a great clip to show and talk about why it’s gross to pick up gum/food off the ground to eat.  Kids can share what’s in their “thinking” bubble when they see Buddy eating gum off the subway railing.

I love this scene because the other person on the elevator has some great non-verbal signals about how he is feeling.  Buddy also does one expected behavior on the elevator, but overall, everything he does in this clip would make someone really annoyed!!  Students that need to work on articulation carryover can retell the story clip while practicing their speech sounds!

You can also have students write complex sentences about what happened in each clip!  Give them a “challenge” word to add in each sentence such as an adjective, conjunction or transitional phrase.

Find my Elf movie playlist on YouTube

If you need a playlist of all the movie clips, you can use mine on YouTube. Hope you can use these in your therapy room for the last couple days of school!  My kids stayed engaged and enjoyed watching all of Buddy’s shenanigans!!

Activities Using An Apple Theme For Your Middle School Caseload

Activities Using An Apple Theme For Your Middle School Caseload

When you look on pinterest and TPT, you will find TONS of materials for teaching with an apple theme.  It is a great teaching unit theme because apples are in season and are a strong part of what we associate with the autumn/fall season.  As I dabbled with all my online resources, I found that there wasn’t much out there that was appropriate for my middle school peeps.  My Independent Living Skills students are academically functioning between a 1st-3 rd grade level, so teaching about apples would be perfect for their language levels, but I needed to find materials that were not babyish while still covering functional vocabulary.


activities for middle school with an apple theme

My ILS SDC teachers are doing agriculture this month for their community skills elective class that they are teaching, so I thought apple farming would work well for planning lessons.  Here’s what this dabbling speechie came up with!

I push into the students Community based elective class, so we started the class with watching two short videos about apples.  The first video is about the nutrition and the second is about apple farming.  After watching the videos, I had the teacher and the 4 teacher aids be in charge of different tables.  This class has both of the Independent Living Skills classrooms, so their are 22-24 students in there at one time.  All the students are verbal, but do best when there is a small group.

I showed Apple farming video that has really good visuals for vocabulary such as tractor, barrels of apples, orchard, and barn.

I found this book on amazon and decided to buy it because it was such a good price (amazon affiliate link included for your convenience).

At one table station, I had a teacher aid read the book to the students and ask them questions about apples.

apples 3

The students really enjoyed the pictures and the book was short enough to keep their attention span.

apples 1We had a taste test of different apples.  This activity covered two objectives.  One was to learn about initiating conversation with peers and giving your opinion about something.  I made visuals for my students on the autism spectrum that needed a little nudge to share.  It worked!!  The other objective was to work on math concepts: more, less, and equal.

apples 4Apple Unit FREEBIE by Khrys Bosland  has an awesome graphing sheet to record which apple was each student’s favorite.  I think a few students added two favorites (I wasn’t manning that station).

apples 5With my 7th grade RSP language students, we tasted apples and oranges and then compared/contrasted them.  We also worked on describing the taste with adjectives.  I used the videos above to have them work on memory strategies to recall details from the videos and identifying the main idea from the videos.  I have been working on taking notes with just the KEY information with 2-3 words.  They had to share facts from the videos using that strategy.

apples 2

Autumn Apples Speech & Language Pack from Queen’s Speech was a great resource for working on describing apples and the vocabulary words for parts of the apple.  The pack includes mini book companions for some other great popular apple books.  I just ordered Apples by Gail Gibbons which is a great book to learn facts about apples.  There are question/answer cards about the book in this pack as well.

This pack from Rebecca Bettis Apples Everywhere: Cross Curricular Activities was really wonderful to use with my students.  It had a variety of activities that I could use across skills and some fun science experiment type activities.

My students that need to work on making complex sentences got to use these pre-write graphs to create a paragraph about apples.  They could talk about what you can do with apples, describe an apple, share the nutritious information about apples or apple farming.  We are on our first draft and they liked it.  It was nice to bring in a healthy snack and watch my students be excited about eating the fruit.  This theme was adapted across many of my groups, so I hope you try some of these ideas during the apple harvest season!

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