If you’re a regular reader, you already know I hang out in classrooms a LOT!
If you’re new here, check out my previous blog posts about how I provide therapy in the general ed. classroom here, and here 🙂
Over the years I’ve found that there are lots of ways to make therapy in the classroom work for everyone involved! Here are a few ideas!
1) Plan with your co-teacher(s) to implement learning stations. Stations work great for topics that have multiple parts to teach such as genre, text features, story elements, parts of speech, types of poetry, types of figurative language, etc. Plan ahead to use all of the educators in the classroom to each teach a skill involved in the lesson. For example, when 4th grade has to teach about genre, the gen. ed. teacher, special ed. teacher, and myself each teach about 1 or 2 genres. We each set up a teaching station in the room with a short activity we’ve planned to teach those genres. Then we divide the students into 3 groups (or even 4 if the paraprofessional is in the room). The groups of students rotate through each of our stations for 10-15 minutes (using a timer!) I might teach about realistic fiction and historical fiction while the special ed. teacher teaches about fantasy and mystery. Meanwhile the gen. ed teacher may do a mini lesson on fairy tales and fables. Each student in the room gets each mini lesson on genre and spend face-to-face quality time with each educator. It really works!
2) Strengthen student understanding of the weekly skill by giving it a speech and language twist! Teachers use tons of text to teach and practice skills- especially ELA skills like main idea, context clues, inferencing, cause/effect, and so on. They require students to read and respond and express knowledge through writing. That text load and demand is often very difficult for our students. Well, we SLPs all know that they first must be able to listen/comprehend, respond and express knowledge orally before being able to do so along with the challenge of reading and writing. Bring a twist to the classroom by teaching, practicing and assessing skills orally only. If we can help our students be more successful (and confident) in doing that they will be more prepared to apply the skill once it’s paired with text. Using this strategy, I model and teach to the whole group, we practice altogether, and then I pair or group the students. I then give the groups or pairs an oral language task related to the weekly skill. Once that’s in full swing, I work with the group or groups that contain my students. As a wrap up, I often have each group present their ideas to the class…simply because, in my opinion, kids just don’t get to express their knowledge through oral language enough in school! It’s a crucial prerequisite to writing!
3) Implement Word of the Week or Idiom of the Week so that your influence lingers after you walk out of the room. For years, I implemented word of the week. I had the word of the week posted outside my therapy door – a place where all students walked past. For teachers who wanted to jump on board – and in classrooms where my students were- each week I introduced it to the class. It was a big hit in upper elementary grades 4 and 5. I tried to choose a substantial word but one that they could actually use at school that would also be a nice addition to their repertoire. During the week, if they used the word appropriately during class discussion or in any way in their wriring, they would write their name on the board (the teacher had to give them the go ahead). At the end of the week, whichever student’s name was written the most times, got a prize from my prize box. For those grades I used lots of candy, chips and privileges they covet (like taking off shoes or sitting in a rolling chair that week). Since I’ve discovered Idiom of the Week (by Speech with Sharon) I now use that instead.
It works the same way but boosts their figurative language! I post (and talk alllllll about) the Idiom of the Week to the participating classrooms, and whichever student can use it the most gets the big prize.
4) Can’t make it into ELA? Become your students’ tool to dig deep into comprehension in the science and social studies classroom. This is something that’s come about for me out of necessity. Scheduling has been tough this year, and I’ve found that what my 5th grade students are struggling the most is science and social studies. I’ve worked in these classes with them a little and discovered that it’s a great place to help students tackle new concepts and language comprehension. Sometimes students just need your body next to them and your help to decipher new vocabulary and comprehend new ideas.
5) Be a bridge to carryover for your articulation and fluency kids. Your presence in the classroom is beneficial for your articulation and fluency kids, too!! I’ve been very lucky that my administration has been on board with trying to put my articulation students in the classese where I do inclusion or at least cluster them in a class or two in each grade level. I’ve loved going in their classrooms to help them prepare for oral presentations, and to be their visual reminder to apply the strategies that they learned in the classroom in their actual classes. I like to think of it as a gentle speech harassment 🙂 When they are ready to carryover skills to the classroom, I hang around like a pest and, when needed, give them a visual cue a reminder in class (teeth clenched for /s/ and /z/, big breath for fluency reminders to “belly breathe,” a tap to the throat as a reminder for /k/ and /g/) but my plan is to soon put Peachie Speechie’s prompts on a stick to use in the classroom!
I would LOVE to hear how YOU provide great therapy in the classroom.
Please comment and share ~ we can never have too many ideas!
Love these suggestions! I also incorporate an idiom by Speech with Sharon and word of the week! Your word of the week is prettier than mine, though :)!