Let’s talk about the toughest crowds- older students- especially those burned out by years of therapy.
I used to work in a PK-8 school, and I still work with children in grades 4 and up. Many are just so DONE with therapy.
When doing therapy with upper elementary, middle schoolers, and high schoolers, it’s all about making skills fun without insulting their intelligence or their pride (aka using baby stuff!)
LET’S TALK MATERIALS
Time and time again I get requests for resources to use with older students- upper elementary, middle and high school. Today I’m sharing what kinds of activities I use with my older students.
I think it’s really important to find out what your middle (or high) schoolers love AND USE IT! Obviuosly, they all love their cell phones and text messaging, and I use that as much as possible in therapy. Want older students to be interested and invested? Speak their language! Cater to their interests. Cross over to their world. Here are a few of my products that do just that while addressing lots of language skills (and even carryover of articulation and fluency skills)
When we do have to get down to the nitty gritty and READ, I like to use short, high-interest passages. Short (but entertaining) passages keep frustrations down, motivation up and allow us to get lots of reading done in our short therapy sessions. Plus, for our students to get more proficient with academic language skills, they need to be able to learn how to apply them without getting bogged down in lengthy text. We all know we only have these students for a short while and need to get right down to skill work.
It’s important that students learn to respond to non-fiction text. Let’s face it, if they can’t, they may feel like failures on a daily basis. Answering questions is what teachers expect and it’s how they are assessed. Because I’ve spent just about my whole career working in classrooms alongside teachers, I needed passages my students could manage. Some with really fascinating passages are Easter Around the World packet and Mardi Gras Reading & Responding. All About Turkeys is always a big hit, too.
They contain short informational text with strategic questions to require recalling information, comparing/contrasting, reading for details, sequencing, context clues, inferencing, predicting, main idea, and the list could go on forever.
Oh, and the packets have a few lagniappe activities as well (for grammar, writing or just plain fun). Lagniappe is just another word for bonus / extra here in Cajun country, y’all. When November arrives, I’ll be using this resource about the history of Thanksgiving (just the weird parts of history that older students tend to like) and funky facts about turkeys and football. It actually keeps my students motivated to read, and it has links to You Tube videos which they really love. I’ve used it in inclusion for many years, and it now has a digital version.
If you really want to delve into literacy with your students, try a novel!! For the past 2 years, I have read My Louisiana Sky with my oldest students and they’ve really been into it. You can even let them help choose the novel.
WANNA TALK MOTIVATION?
I bought these little owl scratch off reward tickets from Oriental Trading…
They’re so easy to use! You just write the name of the prize on the scratch off card and hand them out as rewards. Students scratch them with so much enthusiasm that you’d swear they were actual lottery tickets. Some of my rewards include “pick the game,” hot fries, skittles, “special request,” hot cheetos, “listen to music in speech,” an extra day of speech or a soft drink. My students like getting a scratch off. Now these owl ones are a little juvenile, but I saw that Amazon has a ton of scratch labels that you can just adhere to cardstock. I think these more sophisticated versions would be very motivating for middle schoolers.
For all of you working with this finicky crowd, may the odds be ever in your favor!