5 Ways to Increase Independence and Carryover in Speech Therapy

Saturday, February 3, 2018 No comments

1. Above all else, establish rapport with your students and families. Allow them to see you as a person. Expose not only your strengths but your weaknesses too.

This is pretty self-explanatory but relationships come first, hands down. Let's face it, we work harder for people that we can relate to. You students and families do too. When they think about or talk about you (all positive of course) they are reminded to practice what they are working on.

Students and parents need to trust you to expose their vulnerability but trust takes time. Start building those relationships from Day 1. Your first contact with the parent should be a positive one.

When you know your students, you can find examples that they can personally relate to which makes learning more salient. While you're at it, establish rapport with the general student population too. Eliminate the mystery! Read about one way I did so here.

Whether you space is a closet or classroom, make your space warm and welcoming, a space kids WANT to be. However, remember that YOU and YOUR STUDENTS are the most important aspect of that room.


2) Ensure that your students are aware of what specific goals they are targeting in speech, not only at the beginning of the year but throughout the year as well.

My articulation students could typically tell you what their goals or "their sounds" (as they would say) were because it was more concrete. My students targeting language goals on the other hand? I'd have some that would still say a sound for themselves, even if we had gone over their goals what seemed like 852 times. When I took a step back, I realized that we are great at providing visuals within therapy sessions, so why not offer visuals as to why they are in speech-language in the first place? I started using goal tags last year (it only took me 15 years to have that aha moment) and I haven't looked back. You can read more about how/why here.

3) Students should be active participants in the therapy process.

Many students have limited control over many of the variables in their lives so offering controlled choices helps make them feel like they are part of the process. Empower them. You create mini-SLPs that will come up with ways to practice their goals outside of speech therapy too which facilitates that independence and carryover. Not to mention, students come up with some innovative ideas that you may find yourself incorporating into other groups as well!

 Increase Goal Awareness and Accountability

4) Use speech centers to support skills and activities you have previously introduced to facilitate independence in a gradual way.

While small group instruction allows us to teach students new skills while giving them more opportunities, our students inadvertently become dependent upon us, creating a learned helplessness in a sense. Speech centers facilitate independence using a natural progression by allowing students to practice their target skill with increased independence in a familiar environment. 

Don't feel intimidated by the idea of centers. More than likely, you can adapt materials you already have that do not require your direct support. You may use an iPad app for one center and an activity you have previously introduced in another. Some of my favorite materials to use during centers include Articulation Sticks, Language Sticks, Pizza Perfect Speecheria, Articulation Mirror Station, and a Literacy Sensory Bin.

 Speech Centers

5) Get out of your speech room! Take a "field trip" through the hallway, participate in school activities, make yourself visible.

Students travel through the school environment daily yet they may only be in your room 1-2 times per week. Spark their thoughts when they aren’t with you! 

Travel through hallway, visit playground, etc. Search for articulation targets or Language Concepts. Bring along clipboards or take photos to add to Seesaw and suddenly the trip feels official.

Are you a one of the luck winners with lunch duty? Whether we should have duties is a conversation for another day but if you do have one, why not make the best of it? While you are there, can you incorporate activities for student body that facilitate communication? During lunch duty this year, we started playing the age old "Categories Game" where you name a category and go around until someone can't think of a member of that category. For us, the winner of each round, earned a spot at the "VIP Table" the next day. The VIP Table is simply a table with a VIP signed displayed and a deck of "Would You Rather" cards. Winners get to choose a friend to join them at the VIP table the following day. It is simple and doesn't cost anything but man is it a motivator! We won't tell them that they are learning in the process. Teehee.

SLP Valentine's Day Hop

It's time to add five more FREEBIES to your collection! 

Frankie's back with some Valentine treats! We sang our way through Halloween with the #SLPHalloweenHop and jingled our way through the #SLPChristmasHop so it only seemed fair to add some more love to your collection with the #SLPValentineHop.

 SLP Valentine Hop

To collect your collaborative freebies, that's right they work together, search #SLPValentineHop on Teachers Pay Teachers or click on the links below!

The Pedi Speechie starts us off with a Frankie song book, sung to the tune of Wheels on the Bus.

Sparklle SLP added story and song visuals for sequencing, smash mats, a game board and sentence flips! Wow! 

Sparklle SLP Valentine's Day Hop Freebie

Speech Wonderland adds Category goodies and blank Valentine's Day cards. Her freebie includes a colorful categories booklet, categories game board, heart category match and blank Valentine's Day cards!

 Speech Wonderland Valentine's Day Hop Freebie

Wait, there's more!! Speech Owl adds phonemic awareness activities that are simply adorable.

 Speech Owl Valentine's Day Hop Freebie

Finally, hop on over to SLPTalk with Desiree, where I added a Wh- Questions activity to the mix with another interactive Wh- Questions board.

SLPTalk Valentine's Day Hop Freebie

We hope that you enjoy all of the Valentine's Day fun that Frankie brings to your speech therapy sessions! 

Hoppy Valentine's Day!

P.S. If you missed out on the #SLPHalloweenHop or #SLPChristmasHop, you can still find them by searching on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

SLP CHRISTMAS HOP: Fill your Therapy Bag with Free Holiday Materials!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 No comments
The winter break countdown is on. SLPs everywhere are the busiest elves I know, delivering evals and IEPs wherever they go. I don't know about you, but my typing fingers are on overdrive trying to get it all done. 

This is where some of my SLP blogging buddies and I step in to help you out with some free speech therapy materials to spread holiday speech therapy cheer through a collaborative freebie hop. Simply download these 7 freebies and you will have one large Christmas themed speech therapy packet to meet many of your students' needs! I love having all of these awesome materials at my fingertips for my mixed groups! 

Oh yeah, did I mention that they are literacy based? SLP swoon. Yup, my friend The Pedi Speechie came up with another innovative Frankie story to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as the anchor to the therapy activities. 

I chime in with WH questions that you can use as is or attach to clothespins for students to attach to answers displayed around the wreath. I love to throw them in a sensory bin along with some plastic frogs.

When you download the WH Questions Freebie, you will also find links to the coordinating freebies from these fab SLPs:

The Pedi Speech starts us off with her Holiday Hop story featuring our favorite frog Frankie
Speech Wonderland gifted some Category Treats 
The Speech Owl provided Phonemic Awareness activities
Speechasaurus provided Articulation Chains
The Speech Attic provided activities targeting Basic Concepts
Sparklle SLP includes Story Visuals and Reinforcements (like smash mats!)

I hope that these freebies fill you SLP Santa sack with fun to carry you through to Winter Break. 
You can make it!

From Little Seeds Grow Mighty Trees

Monday, October 23, 2017 No comments

From little seeds grow mighty trees.

What we do today impacts what our students do tomorrow. No pressure, right?

When we work together with students and families, our impact increases. You can read more about the how and why I have this tree in my classroom here. In the meantime, let's get to how I made it, shall we?

Being the frugal resourceful SLP that I am, I was determined to make this project happen with minimal cost. Initially I thought I would make it using an artificial tree. Then I spotted the price on them-- yikes!

Insert Plan B.

The first thing I did was take my boys back to a wooded area behind my house to scope out our "tree". We hunted around until we found the perfect branch. However, our luck didn't end there. We also found an abandoned wooden toolbox. The perfect base for our project!! We checked with our neighbor whose son had abandoned the toolbox he had created in boy scouts and got the green light to use it. Awesome!

A little white spray paint and our perfect branch was ready to go!

I then busted out my trusty Cricut machine to add vinyl lettering to the toolbox. Vinyl and I are BFFs you know...

As in any DIY project, safety comes first so my son was well protected with his hockey helmet as he drilled into the toolbox. He loved every second of it.

Now, onto the mason jars. My daughter helped me design mason jars that we could adorn the tree with, highlighting my students' strengths from their perspective. We used floral wire to create a hanger for various sized mason jars. 

I just love how the final project turned out.  My students love showcasing their strengths and reading the positive messages that their parents leave them on the attached ribbons! You can read more about how they are used in my speech room here. You can download the mason jars here.

Student and Family Relationships Come First

Relationships come first. Establishing strong, authentic relationships with my students and families increases the value that they place on improving their communication skills. This in turn, positively affects their progress. 

Working in an urban, low SES school presents its unique challenges with parents/guardians who may not have the same knowledge on how to help their child communicate as we do as SLPs. Acknowledging the parent’s role and establishing a positive partnership with families cultivates that dialogue. 

Providing personal touches as small as offering a water bottle at meetings, making positive phone calls or sending notes home go a long way. When I meet with parents, they write a message to their child on the back of a ribbon. 

We hang it on a tree branch displayed in my room to illustrate our home-school connection. The students then write their favorite part about themselves on a mason jar tag that we attach to the ribbon. 
(You can find the mason jar tags here).

After reading his father’s message, this student filled out his mason jar with such a sweet response. We tackle what is hard for our students but encouraging words help them know that we are rooting for them every step of the way. 

You don't need to spend a small fortune to create the tree that I described above. Learn how I made mine for less than $5 here.