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In this episode, I got to sit down with Dr. Lyndsey Zurawski, an SLPD who accidentally fell into the world of inclusion therapy very early in her career, when the alternative was working in a closet. Literally.

This was one of those conversations that had me scrambling to take as many notes as I could. There was a great deal of emphatic head nodding and gesturing (on my part) as we talked about using inclusive therapy practices and creating classroom environments that are the most conducive to your students’ learning.

As per usual, there are a ton of practical takeaways and actionable tips for you to walk away with because Dr. Zurawski has really been in the trenches of inclusion therapy and has a wealth of experience to share. There’s also a great discussion about getting outside of our SLP comfort zones, and diving into something new… I hope it leaves you feeling inspired. 🤓

So grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte because, October!), put your feet up, and listen in.

Key Takeaways

– How Dr. Zurawski accidentally got started with inclusion therapy
– Why SLPs should consider using inclusive therapy practices in the classroom
– What it looks like to put your students’ needs first when considering inclusive therapy
– What inclusive therapy/creating the least restrictive environment (LRE) is
– What does the emerging research tell us about inclusion therapy?
– When are classroom-based services appropriate?
– When are other service delivery models more appropriate?
– The four Es: effective, efficient, evidence-based, economical
– Knowing when to teach and when to generalize/support skills
– Knowing how to change intensity and duration
– Providing collaborative/classroom-based services outside of general education classroom
– Examples across grades: whole group language lessons, supporting a teacher’s instruction, using books, etc.
– Suggestions for data collection in the classroom
– Tips for scheduling when implementing inclusive and flexible delivery models
– Tips for working with teachers
– Caseload vs. Workload

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

School-Based SLP and Inclusive Service Delivery: What are the First Steps? (2014)
Throneberg et al. (2000): Comparative study of three service delivery models
Cirrin et al. (2010): Systematic review of service delivery models
Schmitt & Justice (2011): SLPs assisting with setting up a students’ environment
Brandel & Loeb (2011)
Articles in ASHA Leader re: service delivery
Larson, McKinley, Boley (1993): Service delivery for adolescents
Nippold (2012): Different models for different communication disorders
Salley (2012): Service delivery for dolescents
– Models from Florida Inclusion Network (FIN)
– Hear more from Dr. Zurawski at or on Instagram!
Click to download Dr. Zurawski’s full reference list.

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Thanks so much!


Marisha: Hi there, it's Marisha from SLP Now and I am so incredibly excited to introduce you to today's guests. This is a question that I've been wondering a lot about, and it's probably the most requested topic that we've had. And we get to talk about inclusion with Dr. Lyndsey Zurawski. And so she is a doctor. She earned her PhD and she's also a speech language pathologist. She works as a diagnostician and SLP in the school district of Palm Beach County, and she created and maintains the popular SLP blog, Speech to the Core, and she also authors numerous e-products in the area of language and literacy.

Marisha: And if you've recognize her name, not from any of those things, she was also the 2017 to 2019 president for the Florida Association of SLPs and Audiologists so FLASHA. She is a very busy and accomplished SLP and she also has a wealth of knowledge to share with us when it comes to inclusion and all things service delivery. So before we dive into all of the nitty gritty, Lyndsey, I'm super curious to hear how you came to learn so much about this area.

Lyndsey: So the first to thank you so much for having me on. I am very excited. This is the first time I'm doing a podcast interview or being a part of one, so a little nervous but very excited to be here. So my experiences may be different than some but I think more likely than not very like most others.

Lyndsey: I started as a clinical fellow in a school district and I thought, "Yeah, I know what I'm doing. I'm coming out of grad school. I'm very prepared." Grad school doesn't prepare us for the real world. It doesn't prepare us for real life.

Lyndsey: And so I was working down in Miami Dade Public Schools. I was working with a contract company and so I was filling in for a lot of different individuals, maternity leaves and whatnot. So I was having to hop schools quite a bit.

Lyndsey: And as a CF, that's hard, I think as any individual that's hard, but as a CF, it's really difficult. But one of my first jobs was in elementary school, and they brought me to my office and I was super excited, but my office was a closet inside of a teacher's room.

Lyndsey: And I know, we see the memes and the funny stories and things like that, but I was shocked. I was like, "I actually have to parade a group of students in through this woman's classroom every 30 minutes." I would have to interrupt her class, get my kids and I had this tiny little closet with a horseshoe table and I had to squeeze like five kids around this horseshoe table and I actually had to climb over the table to get to my chair.

Lyndsey: And so I just decided that, that wasn't the best fit for myself as a therapist, my kids, the teacher whose classroom it was, and I just started going into classrooms and providing the services. It really did work out because a lot of my kids had already been sort of grouped together, which I had nothing to do with, but it worked out.

Lyndsey: And I just sort of accidentally started doing inclusive therapy, and it worked, and I loved it. I love being in the classroom. I love being able to support my students with what they needed. And that was how it started and I never looked back. So that is 15 years ago now that I started doing inclusive based practices.

Marisha: Oh, I love that story. I'm kind of glad that you had that closet, because I think when we're trying something new, it's uncomfortable and hard. I think if you had, had a super comfortable, cozy therapy room, you wouldn't have been pushed into the classroom in that way. I'm kind of selfishly grateful that, that happened, because you've shared so many great tips and resources to help SLPs with this. So yeah, I love that story. That's super helpful.

Marisha: So if there's another SLP in the same boat as you, they're feeling like, "Something about my therapy and my therapy room isn't working the way that it should." What tips do you have for them to get started? Like what should an SLP consider before starting to provide services in the classroom? I'm just curious if you have some general starter tips there.

Lyndsey: This question comes up a lot. In about five years ago, I want to say it was 2014, I actually wrote an article for SIG 16 Perspectives titled, School-Based SLP and Inclusive Service Delivery: What are the First Steps? And that's really because I was getting all these questions, what do I do, and how do I do it?

Lyndsey: And not that by any means am I an expert. I just think it's something that I do and I happen to work. I've been at the same school now for 13 years and we are a school that's considered a model school for inclusive and classroom-based service delivery models.

Lyndsey: And so when I wrote that article, I really sat down to think of what do people need to know. It's hard because I think the first thing I always say is start small. You need to figure out where to go, who do you know, do you have a rapport with somebody? Because when we're really thinking about this, I think We tend to make it about ourselves as speech language pathologist, but it's not about us. It's about the students we work with.

Lyndsey: And I think that's the first thing that we need to do is take a step back and think about the students that we're working with and think about what are their needs, and how are we going to be able to help them. Because we oftentimes really are thinking about, "Well, I am not happy in my closet, in my office. What is it that we need to do to make ourselves happy to be able to provide services?"

Lyndsey: But instead, we really need to think about what do our students need, and how are we going to do that. So, when I'm thinking about this, I think we need to look at a couple different things. Keeping in mind that we need to make sure that we are providing services in the least restrictive environment. And I think there does seem to be some confusion over what least restrictive environment is, though.

Lyndsey: So, I do want to maybe touch on that a little bit, because when we're thinking about that, it should be really making sure that least restrictive environment, as defined by the law, is that the students with disabilities are educated to the fullest extent possible with non-disabled peers.

Lyndsey: And LRE specifically states that a child with a disability is not to be removed from an education and age appropriate regular classroom solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum. And I think for us, the first thing we do is we pull out of the classroom because it's what we've always been doing. It's what the SLP did before we got to that school. It's what we were taught when we were in school, in graduate school. And it's really the model that we're most comfortable with. It's our comfort zone.

Lyndsey: But what about what's most comfortable for the student? What about what actually is the least restrictive environment for that student?

Lyndsey: So also, we need to take this into consideration that we need to be thinking about FAPE, so free and appropriate public education. In order to be in compliance with the law with IDEA. So I think just really taking those things into consideration but making sure that we are thinking about the student's needs first and foremost and not our own as the speech language pathologist.

Marisha: Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I really appreciate that overview. I think you said to start small and maybe finding one place to start and going from there. Because it is hard. It's something different and we have to step outside of that comfort zone. So thinking about what's best for our students, looking at that least restrictive environment, also considering FAPE as all of these things that make it worth stepping outside of the comfort zone, even if it is a little bit scary.

Marisha: And I'm super excited, because I think you will kind of break things down in a way that will make it maybe a little bit less scary. But hopefully, we're convinced now that it's worth giving it a try. And actually, before we go into some of the more specifics, I'm curious. Because I know there's not a ton of research out there, but can you tell us a little bit about what you have found when it comes to inclusion and kind of the things that we're talking about here?

Lyndsey: Sure. So just like you mentioned, there's really not a lot of research about inclusive service delivery models. It's really an emerging body or area of research, one that really needs to be studied more. And I know for myself as someone who has a doctorate, but who's a clinician, in the trenches, I know, I've been trying to pair with some of my fellow colleagues in academia to say, "Hey, let's get that clinician to research our partnership to look at the effectiveness of classroom-based service delivery models."

Lyndsey: Because I know in my heart of hearts that what I'm doing is effective. We just need research studies that show that. So we're working. I think there's a few of us that want to partner up and look at those classroom-based service delivery models in the future. It's just a matter of getting it done. So stay tuned for that I guess I should say, maybe 10 years from now, but coming in the future.

Lyndsey: But there have been some studies, I would say since the early 90s, in which evidence-based practices have been used and where services were conducted within classroom-based or collaborative-based models and have shown that they were effective in some way or another.

Lyndsey: Throneburg et al. had found that there was ... There was a study conducted. It was a comparative study, and they looked at three service delivery models and the effectiveness on vocabulary development, and they had found that the collaborative model was more effective for teaching curriculum vocabulary.

Lyndsey: In 2010, there was a systematic review of the literature. And what the results revealed was that collaborative classroom models may provide advantages over pull out models. However, there's not really evidence that one model is significantly more successful than the other or provides disadvantages over the other, but that we really need to consider the individual needs of the child.

Lyndsey: And then in 2011, Schmidt and Justice discussed the idea that school-based SLPs do not operate in a vacuum, which we know. We're not in a silo. We are not an Island. We're not all by ourselves. Although when we put ourselves in our little office or our closets or wherever we might be, we tend to isolate ourselves.

Lyndsey: So what Schmidt and Justice said was that basically, we can as SLPs assist with setting up a student's environment to help them to be the most successful they can be. So that environment includes classroom environment, and as well as the teacher.

Lyndsey: Additional studies that have been done, not just about the effectiveness of service delivery, but there's more about program intensities. So Brandel & Loeb looked at this in 2011. Hugh Catts looked at the language basis of reading and reading disabilities and a longitudinal study, which isn't necessarily about service delivery, but there was just discussion about how reading and reading disabilities affects us. And that is really important to how and the type of materials we use in therapy, which I think really goes along with inclusive or classroom-based service delivery models.

Lyndsey: And then when we look at ... There have been a lot of articles published in the ASHA Leader about service delivery. And then there's also been Larson, McKinley, and Boley did an article in a study in 1993 about service delivery models for adolescents with language disorders, which I think is important for us to look at the differences not just in elementary school, but also with our middle and high school students. But there's also been some additional research on pre-K children and how important it is to provide them supports within that classroom-based environment as well.

Lyndsey: And then Marilyn Nippold did an article in 2012 about different service delivery models for different communication disorders. And then Sally had an article in 2012 service delivery models used with adolescents, a pilot study. So there are research or articles out there. There's just not a ton of it. Not like in some of the other areas in which we provide services.

Lyndsey: And I think what we're really looking for when we think about research and service delivery, we want someone to tell us that one model is better than the other. We want somebody to say definitively you should be providing services in the classroom. But it's not service delivery, it's a continuum. And in order to be doing or providing services with an evidence-based practice in mind, we really need to consider that continuum approach and making sure we're adhering to that.

Lyndsey: And that we're really, again, going back to the needs of the student and that we're individualizing it to the student. I know people might be saying or thinking to themselves as they're listening, "Well, she doesn't have a caseload of 75."

Lyndsey: I know, Marisha, when you introduced me, we didn't talk about what my current position is or what my current job is, but I am a current practicing clinician in the schools and I do have a caseload. I'm not full time as a clinician, because I am a diagnostician and a supervisor. But I have a caseload and so I have to manage caseload and workload and a lot of other things. But I used to have a caseload of over 75.

Lyndsey: So I think it's important that we think about it's not just about our numbers, it's still about the needs of our students. And we have to think about how we can make that work effectively. What I've found is from being in the classroom, if I'm grouping my students accordingly, I can actually better service my students.

Lyndsey: And classroom-based service delivery model is not appropriate for everyone, but when I am doing it and doing it the way that it's meant to be, I am finding significant growth and impact and really making a difference for my students who are in the lowest 25%. And in which my administrators are expecting to show growth on that AYP, that annual yearly progress.

Lyndsey: So I think when we're looking at being that team player and how do we work with and collaborate with our staffs at schools, those are some things that we need to consider. So I sort of veered off from the research piece but I'm tying that all together.

Marisha: Now, that was the perfect little boat. You wrap up all those things. I know I was scribbling away different notes. So if you are wondering about the specific research articles, if you go to, no worries, we all have the list there for you, as well as any other resources and things that we mentioned. So we've got you covered. But that was so incredibly helpful. I'm really grateful that you were able to break that down for us.

Marisha: And you did mention a little bit ... Like I loved what you said about service delivery is a continuum. It's not just about our numbers, it's about the needs of our students. And you had a little tidbit in there where you talked about the classroom based services might not be appropriate for all students, or you also alluded to that continuum.

Marisha: Can you tell us a little bit about, one, what that looks like for you and what that continuum is like? And when might you decide that it's not appropriate for a student?

Lyndsey: So I think that it's hard to generalize that. Right? I think that, again, we want somebody to say, "This is what it looks like. We want a rubric for service delivery." Which would make life so much easier, and I get that. It would be so nice to have someone say, "Okay, let's look down this column and look across this row. And this is based on the communication disorder and the severity, and this is what you should do."

Lyndsey: And then as I'm saying that I'm like, "Oh, maybe I should develop something." But that's not reality, so I digress, because in all actuality, when we're looking at it, it really truly is not a one size fits all model. We think about when we first make a child eligible, say for an articulation disorder, phonological disorder, a severe phonological disorder, I couldn't imagine providing those services in the classroom.

Lyndsey: However, do I hope that after providing that student with direct therapy outside of the classroom that I will be able to move that student to be able to receive their services for artic and phonology within the classroom? Absolutely.

Lyndsey: So I think that we also need to think about that. That's where that dynamic process, that continuum comes in. And I think when we think about the dynamic process, it's really about thinking about that we can consider and make changes to service delivery models continuously or throughout time. We don't have to say, "Okay, we wrote the IEP, and this is all we can do."

Lyndsey: The nice part about having IEPs is that it's a working document and we can call a parent in for a meeting and say, "We've met this goal or we feel like this would be a better way to provide the services to your child." And so we can think about treatment setting, we can think about format, we can think about intensity, we can think about frequency and we can think about duration when we're talking about the types of services that we provide to our students.

Lyndsey: And I really liked Barbara Moore and Judy Montgomery. They wrote a book. It's Speech Language Pathologists in Public Schools. It's actually the third edition. That's what I use when I teach my course at Nova for school-based practices, but what I like is that they discuss how SLP should be utilizing service delivery models that are effective, efficient, economical and evidence-based. So I guess the four Es.

Lyndsey: But I really like that we need to be thinking about those things in order to ensure accountability for the work that we do. And when we stop and think about, "Well, how do we do that?" Well, we can consider those four Es when considering which service delivery model to use for which students. And I refer back to Moore and Montgomery and how they refer to that need to consider four different ideas when considering all service delivery models.

Lyndsey: So these four things would be the overall effectiveness, coordination with other programs and services. So other special education services, what other supports are there, the commitment of all parties. This would include anything from, say, paraprofessionals all the way up to your administrators, and including your collaborative teachers in between, as well as the commitment of yourself as the speech language pathologist.

Lyndsey: And the fourth thing would be resources available. So what resources available do you have to make this an effective, efficient, economical and evidence-based service delivery model? So those are some of the things that I consider when I'm doing it.

Lyndsey: But as I mentioned, a student with a severe articulation or phonological disorder when we first place them might not be the best fit when we're first considering classroom-based service delivery. However, when I think about I have students on my caseload now, I have a student with autism who is receiving services in the classroom. And one of the students' goals is about conflict resolution and being able to manage communication breakdowns with peers.

Lyndsey: Well, we can teach those skills in isolation in a social skills group, which we do at the school I work at. However, at some point, we have to be able to generalize those skills into other settings. So a small group with peers who also have communication disorders isn't going to have ... We aren't going to see those same generalizations as we will for providing those services in the classroom.

Lyndsey: We can talk about mastery of goals within a small social skills group. But if we put that child into a classroom, that same goal may not be mastered within the classroom. And that's where we need to be able to provide those services on a continuum.

Lyndsey: So again, I think it's about knowing when we need to teach the skills and when we need to be able to support and help to generalize those skills. And that's also about knowing how to change the intensity and the duration of our services as well.

Lyndsey: Our language impaired students, I find that they're most successful when they're receiving their services in the classroom, because we're not pulling them out of their classrooms. They're not missing that academic support, and they're not having to make up any work.

Lyndsey: One of the questions that I get asked a lot is don't parents care that you are not pulling them out? And I say, "Really? Because No, I never get that question." The only question sometimes I get is, "My child said they didn't have speech therapy." I'm like, "No, your child had speech and language therapy. They just sometimes don't always realize it because I'm in the classroom, but they always have their therapy."

Lyndsey: But when we are first explaining our model to parents, they're not upset that their child is not being pulled out of the classroom. They're not upset that their child will be segregated from their peers. They're actually really excited that their child will be able to be in their general education classroom, or whatever least restrictive environment it is for their student.

Lyndsey: Now, one thing I want to point out is I really have been calling it collaborative, our classroom-based services, because we can provide ... We think of mostly inclusive-based services as being provided in the general education classroom, but we can provide collaborative or classroom-based services in other ways that might not be the general education setting, but it is the least restrictive environment for those students.

Lyndsey: This could be self-contained special education classrooms for students with intellectual disabilities or self-contained classrooms for students with autism spectrum disorders. This could be students with emotional behavioral disorders. So in those cases, we can still provide classroom-based services to these students, but it's just not in that general education setting. But it is in the least restrictive environment, so it's allowing us to adhere to FAPE and allowing us to adhere to LRE and really be in compliance with IDEA in providing those services to our students.

Lyndsey: So I think when we think about that, we really want to make sure that our therapy is also having that educational relevance. It's culturally competent, so we really are considering the cultural and linguistic needs of our students. And really, again, going back to that student centered focus about our students when we're determining what their needs are and which service delivery or who will be most appropriate for receiving those services.

Marisha: Wow, such a helpful breakdown. Oh, my goodness. I took all the notes again. And so one follow up question. This is one that has come up several times like when people message me, and when they submit questions. Because you talked about like there's a time to teach and then there's a time to work on generalization and supporting that skill in the classroom.

Marisha: Just from my experience, I've seen it kind of like there's some teaching, and then there's some application and you kind of hop between the two. And I'm curious, because you were ... I'm especially wondering about your language students, because I think that makes so much sense that they would do better with supports in the classroom, because then they can actually access what's happening there and they're not continuing to get behind.

Marisha: But what does that look like in that situation? Like, do you do teaching within the classroom? Or how do you make that work? Maybe just giving like one or two examples to illustrate, because I know it definitely varies, then we get to use our clinical judgment.

Lyndsey: So I was going to say that's a very broad question, but I understand. Yes. So the application pieces is huge for our students and it does very much go back and forth between teaching application, and then it's very cyclical, just like a lot of what we do.

Lyndsey: But I think one of the things that we as clinicians focus on is data. Right? We think we need to take data every single time we are with that student, but that doesn't happen. When we're actually teaching students, we're actually doing therapy with them. There isn't a place to take data. We can take anecdotal notes, we can take what I like to call my soft data, my qualitative data, but that's not the hard data, which is going to show us mastery towards the goal. Our pluses and minuses or the progress on a rubric.

Lyndsey: But, we really need to look at what are we doing. It's not all about just the pluses and minuses. We need to actually teach our students what to do. So we do teach within the class room. And that's where we can look at the different models within collaborative or classroom-based service delivery. We can look at what those look like, and how would we do it because I think also there's some misconceptions of, "Well, if I go into the classroom, I'm going to be looked at like a tutor or a paraprofessional."

Lyndsey: And I can tell you, I absolutely do not feel like a paraprofessional or a tutor when I go into a classroom. Some of that is based on the respect that I have from my teachers. But also, some of that is knowing what my role is, and how to apply that role to the work that I do with my students.

Lyndsey: And I'll come back to this, but another question I get is how do I actually address my students' IEP goals when I'm in the classroom, but that's another side topic. But when we're actually teaching, so when we look at service delivery models, we can break those down even further.

Lyndsey: And we know we have our traditional pull out model, we have alternative therapy models where we can provide services like on a playground, or in the cafeteria, field trips, things like that, work-based settings. But when we're talking about classroom-based or inclusive-based models, Cook and Friend in 1995, developed a variety of in-class models. And then in 2002, Friend and Bursa, they updated and adapted these a little bit more.

Lyndsey: So I would like to say I think I kind of use the same model most of the time, but there are many different ways that this can look within a classroom. So complementary teaching, or as it was updated in 2002 to a lead and support. This would be like where one teacher leads and the other supports, and specifically being like one teacher plans the lessons while the other plans for learning or behavioral needs. And this would really be dependent on the type of classroom environment that I think you're going into.

Lyndsey: And I think some of these, I'll be honest, I think some of them overlap and sort of mesh into one another. But then you have team teaching where you're jointly planning. So the SLP, the general education teacher, possibly the special education teacher are jointly planning and then going back and forth between the two individuals during the lesson.

Lyndsey: This is the model that I use the most is team teaching. But this is one of the models that they'll tell you is one that comes over time. A lot of times, you can't just jump into team teaching, because you have to have that rapport. I like to call it the good cop, bad cop rapport. But how to be able to go back and forth without kind of feeling like you're stepping on somebody else's toes.

Lyndsey: Then you have parallel teaching where you jointly plan but you're delivering the same content to two different small groups that you as the speech language pathologist could be providing the services to one group, and then the teacher could be providing it to another group, but you're teaching that same material.

Lyndsey: And then station teaching is kind of similar, but not necessarily. Station teaching, you break up the kids into heterogeneous groups, and you rotate those to the stations. So in this case, the difference between station and parallel being that you are not necessarily teaching the same content. So you as the speech language pathologist could be working on your own content, and then the students rotate through.

Lyndsey: The nice part about having heterogeneous groups is that you are not necessarily ... You have models, peer models for your students. Now, this doesn't always work, it would be ideal if you could do this. But sometimes station teaching is simply just having your small group of your students when you're in the classroom because of the time constraints or the needs of what the general education or the special education teacher also need to be able to do.

Lyndsey: And then supplemental teaching, I think. I don't use this model as much, but where possibly one is teaching to the large group, and then somebody else is pre-teaching, re-teaching, or providing some supplemental activities to the students. And I think picking which model within that collaborative or co-teaching model is going to be most effective for you is where you're going to find the most success.

Lyndsey: But it also, again, is a fluid approach too because we go back and forth in the classroom. I work in a second grade classroom and a third grade classroom. I spend almost two hours in ... Because I'm only a 0.2, and I'm there two half days, I have a student that has two hours a week of therapy. And I build that into the two half days I'm there, so I have a lot of therapy to fill into the part of the time that I'm there.

Lyndsey: And I spend a lot of time in the third grade language arts classroom this year. It wasn't like that last year, but when I'm in there, I'm in there for we co-teach, then we do some station teaching. And then we sort of do a little bit of, I guess, we could call it some supportive where it's like I'm pulling out but within the classroom but I'm not really because it's where all of the students are doing independent work. And then I'm working with my individual students.

Lyndsey: So within just that one block of time that I'm in the classroom, I could use three to four different models within that time. So I think that this allows us the flexibility, but we're able to teach to our students. We're able to support our students, We're able to provide, allow our students to apply their knowledge. And then we're also able to be there and see the generalization of those skills. And then if one of those areas isn't working, we can adopt or change what we are doing to help our students be even more successful.

Marisha: Yeah, I love that. Because I really liked the breakdown of the different types of ways that we could approach this, so the complementary teaching, team teaching, parallel teaching, station teaching, supplemental teaching. I think I got them all. There's five.

Marisha: And I'm curious. Could you give just a couple examples, maybe like your top three. Or if you want to share one for each of the types. Can you share something that you've done or something that you think we could do for each of those types? Like just picking a random goal. And I know of what we could do with that. Just to give us a couple more concrete examples.

Lyndsey: Sure. So a lot of us use books in therapy, right? And I know you're a big fan of using books and therapy just like I am. And so I think that's one of our easiest ways to target so many goals with one therapeutic material, right? But it's not really a therapeutic material. It's really a curriculum-based material when we think about it.

Lyndsey: So one way that we've been able to be really successful with this is by using books in therapy. I'm going to go back to last year, but I kind of plan about a two week kind of thematic unit. I know a lot of SLPs like themes also because they're like, "Okay, this allows me to kind of plan out and do this."

Lyndsey: I'm not super big into themes as far as I'm going to use the same theme for X amount of time. I don't typically do that unless it's something big. What I did was I did something big. I made a penguin unit. And really, I did all the planning, but I made sure that it worked around what my teacher was doing.

Lyndsey: So it was a second grade classroom. And she said, "We're working on nonfiction." And we have to cover X, Y and Z, and the X, Y and Z was really about knowing our nonfiction text features. It was about being able to conduct research, and it was about collaborative groups.

Lyndsey: So for our students, they need to be able to touch on the speaking and listening skills within the standards. So I was like, "Well, I can do all those things. There's so much we can do with this as speech language pathologists." So what we did was we started with looking at penguins, and we talked about we read a nonfiction article that I had created about penguins. We did a KWL chart.

Lyndsey: So what we want to know, what we already know, and then what they learned, we fill out after we're already done with the article. So we have them fill out the K and the W. We start with that, and they've had a lot of practice by this point in the year of what we expect from them, but we expect three bullet points under each column.

Lyndsey: And they did the K and the W. And then they read the nonfiction article. We modeled it. We circled the title. We talked about vocabulary. So we talked about things like what is blubber. We talked about continents. We talked about all these different vocabulary words, within the context.

Lyndsey: And so I'm hitting vocab goals, I'm hitting comprehension goals, and then I have a page of comprehension questions that my students are able to answer. And even if I'm not in the room the day that we do the comprehension questions, the teacher has the students answer the comprehension questions independently. And I'm able to collect my data from those comprehension questions after the fact because I already taught them those skills, and then I can collect the data on that afterwards.

Lyndsey: So we did all that, then what we did was we started working on a penguin lap book that I had created. So we split them up into groups. We had four or five groups of students in groups of three or four, depending on the students and we mix their levels.

Lyndsey: So we did not just have students that were students with disabilities. We mixed their group so that we could have pure models. And what they had to do was they had to complete their lab book, which talked about different types of penguins, facts about penguins, where they're located.

Lyndsey: And what they had to do is they actually had to take books about penguins. They had to also research them, we had ReadWorks articles, from about penguins, and the different penguin species. So species was one of our vocab words, and we broke it down. And so they had all of this.

Lyndsey: Then once they finished our lap book, and they also compared and contrast. And so they had a Venn diagram on the back of the lap book about comparing and contrasting two species of penguins. Then what we had them do was, then we did like a STEM activity.

Lyndsey: So our STEM activity was we had five stations. One was I had gotten this giant penguin bowling set off of Amazon. I mean, you can pretty much get anything off Amazon, right? So we did a penguin bowling, and underneath was a vocabulary words and their definitions. And when they knocked pins over, they had to match the vocab words with their definitions. They did a sensory bin with Arctic animals, and they compare and contrast the animals.

Lyndsey: Then we did a blubber activity. We also did a STEM activity where they had to build an igloo out of sugar cubes. And then we had one where they cut out pieces of penguin body parts, and then they they built a penguin, and then they had to label it. So bringing back in those non-fiction text features.

Lyndsey: And then at the end, after all that, then they presented their lap books and their research. And that was we had a rubric for what was the expectations for them. And that was their speaking and listening goals as well. So there, I can hit my grammar goals. And again, I have comprehension, I can have compare and contrast. I have so many goals tied in to this two week, two or three week lesson that I'm doing. So that's just one thing that I'm able to do with multiple goals, but multiple activities as well.

Marisha: Oh, so many awesome ideas in there. Thank you for sharing that, Lyndsey. Yeah, I agree. Because this sounds really familiar to what I do in like my literacy-based therapy units. And sometimes, I haven't done as much in the classroom as you have, but it sounds like there's a lot of carryover. And I think it would be even more effective to do these kinds of things in the classroom because you get that added benefit. So that's really awesome.

Marisha: And yeah, I found too that you can target pretty much any goal with these types of activities, because they all require communication. It covers all of our grammar goals, our vocabulary goals, our comprehension goals. We can easily cover all of the bases. We just need to find a way to support that.

Marisha: And I loved how you mentioned too. I always say talk about this too, and it's a question I hear a lot about feeling like a tutor versus a therapist. And I'm curious, do you maybe have just a couple favorite strategies that you use to make sure that you are being a therapist?

Marisha: Because I know that planning out the unit and working with the teacher in this way, and being strategic about what you're selecting is a huge step. But are there any little things that you do throughout the unit to make sure so that you can feel confident that you're being therapeutic?

Lyndsey: So I think some of that is just going back to the basics of how we do therapy. When I'm in the classroom, I think it's about focusing on our students, and even if I'm doing a whole group lesson, I'm still focusing on, I'll say, my students, my ones that are on my caseload.

Lyndsey: If my students can't answer the questions or do the activity that I want them to do in the way that I'm trying to scaffold and mold and shape it into those responses, I use pure models and pure models are a great way for our students to learn. But the other thing about this is, is that the general education teacher is able to learn from the way that we scaffold and change and use our language flexibly to help our students be successful.

Lyndsey: And we have to remember that we're not the ones in the classroom all day long, day in day out. We pop in there for a short amount of time. And if we help our teachers to understand ways for our students to be more successful, it's going to be easier for them.

Lyndsey: I know a lot of my teachers have said, "Gosh, sometimes students with language impairments are more difficult than the learning disabled students." And I said, "I know." And a lot of that goes back to the comprehension and the expression, right? If they can't express themselves, the teachers get frustrated. If they aren't understanding things over and over and over again.

Lyndsey: So it's about that scaffolding, it's about teaching our teachers how to break it down for them a little bit more. And we might say, "Okay. Well, we have those as accommodations on IEPs." We do, but not everybody knows how to implement those accommodations, or truly break it down into language that our students can understand.

Lyndsey: We as SLPs, we have that ability. We are the ones that understand, as Barbara Aaron would say, those language underpinnings. We understand those metacognitive abilities that our students are required to utilize to be successful.

Lyndsey: And so if we can model that for our teachers, and I think it's really about being collaborative. We have to remember, ultimately, that's their space. And we're coming into their space. But whenever I'm in a classroom, my teachers don't make me feel like it's their space. They make it feel like it's our space. So I feel like it's about developing rapport.

Lyndsey: And at the beginning of this podcast, you'd asked me like, "What are some of those first steps?" And I said, "Well, start small. Find someone that you have that rapport with, because finding someone that you have that rapport with is going to be easier."

Lyndsey: I wouldn't say though, find your best friend, because co-teaching with your best friend isn't always the best idea. Because you have to be flexible in the way that you are team teaching, and it's not always the same. You want somebody you get along with. But you also you also want to be able to learn from that person, and you want to be able to have that give and take.

Lyndsey: I also think it's about the culture of your school. It's about having support from the top down. And so if your administrators don't treat you like tutors or paraprofessionals, then your teachers and your staff won't treat you that way. But it's also about your own perception as well.

Lyndsey: So making sure that when you go into the classroom, you're prepared and you have what you need to be able to be successful with a lesson or with whatever might be going on in the classroom that day. Having the support from the top down, but establishing that rapport and taking on a very much collaborative attitude.

Lyndsey: And then being able to adapt and use differentiated material so we can show teachers how to use and differentiate those materials to be successful. And again, it's really about going back to the roots of our therapeutic practices, and being able to utilize those within the classroom.

Marisha: Yeah. I'm so glad that my video wasn't recorded, because I was like head nodding, moving my arms around and said, "Yes, yes, yes." And I absolutely love what you said about being in the classroom. Because, one, I think that we take our skills for granted sometimes, because we really learned a ton about communication and we probably are the most knowledgeable in our schools when it comes to these kinds of things.

Marisha: And it's easy to be like, "Oh, yeah, of course, they know how to do this and that." But they don't, and we don't know those things until we're in the classroom with the teachers, we're modeling it, and then they're like, "Oh, I didn't think to do that."

Marisha: And it's amazing, because it has such a ripple effect. I love when I'm able to do something in the classroom, and then I'm walking by the classroom later in the week, and I see the teacher using that strategy. And it's so amazing, because then you know that it's impacting those students. But also, that's a strategy that she's going to have for the rest of ... She or he, will have for the rest of their career. And they'll be able to use that to help so many more students going forward.

Marisha: So it's just a really ... I don't think that's something that we talked about in the beginning, but that's such a powerful impact that we can have just by showing up in that way and supporting the teachers. And I feel like we learned from being in there too.

Lyndsey: Absolutely.

Marisha: And we can hear from the teachers, but it's just ... We all do better when we work together in that way. So I love that. And I love Dr. Erin's quote about language underpinnings. I reference that often, so I'm super excited that you shared that.

Marisha: Okay. Because we're running a little bit short on time, I want to ask like 50 more questions. You talked a little bit about data collection. Do you have any other tips that you wanted to share about that and making that work? Because you have some really inaudible questions about giving activities that the teacher can use, even when you're not there. So you can like use the results of that comprehension activity to have some data.

Marisha: And then you talked about, you don't always have to have that hard data, you can take soft data, and take some narrative notes. Do you use any other kind of strategies?

Lyndsey: I'm actually the queen of Post-its. I would probably say it's like my downfall. In 15 years, I am just the queen of Post-its. I'll put a Post-it on my leg. I sometimes pre-print on my Post-its, a grid of what I'm working on and I can just plus and minus with what my kids' goals are. And I know that and I just transfer that into my data binders, either later that afternoon or right after the session.

Lyndsey: If I'm not taking it from an activity that we're doing or I'm getting from an activity that I've left for the teacher and they're completing it, I'm using Post-its. And I find that, that's just a quick way and I can plus and minus without really taking the focus off of the therapy.

Lyndsey: Because I think, again, we focus so much on data collection, and we really need to think about what it is that we're doing. And I know there's been quite a few SLPs that I've talked about putting down the data binder and walking away from it. And I really think that is important for us to keep in mind that we don't always have to.

Lyndsey: And I think by just kind of having that Post-it with us, we can either jot down notes or do our pluses and minuses and get the data, that hard data that we need without being overwhelmed by the task of data collection.

Marisha: Yeah, that's super helpful. And then another question that we talked a little bit about before is, what about when it comes to scheduling this? How do you make that work?

Lyndsey: So I think scheduling is very ... It's probably the most critical piece to being able to provide classroom-based services. And you really do need the support from the top down from your administrators in order to be able to do scheduling because you as the SLP are not just the only one making those decisions.

Lyndsey: However, I will say where I am, we use the models based on the Florida Inclusion Network. So if you've never heard of it, it's a really great resource. It's called FIN, but Florida Inclusion Network. And they have tons and tons of resources about inclusive service delivery models and other types of resources that you can access. It's a free website.

Lyndsey: And again, I'll provide that as an additional resource. But we talked about flexible scheduling and about being able to look at the master board. So really looking about how we can build our master board and about ... It's a team approach, so it's not just one individual, it's about having your administration, your general education teachers, your speech language pathologist, your special education teachers and your ESL teachers as part of that team process.

Lyndsey: But what we do at my school is we actually use big chart paper and we use Post-its with our student names on it. And then we have the little round ... I think of them as like garage sale stickers, but the little round stickers that are colored, the round dots. They're all color coded based on the primary and secondary eligibility for the students' IEPS. And then we group them based on their needs.

Lyndsey: So my administrator will know, say in second grade, she's going to have two inclusive groups for that grade. We group our speech and language and our special education students into two groups. And then we schedule everybody else around them. So we actually schedule our speech and language and our special education students first, and then we scheduled the gen ed students around them.

Lyndsey: So this allows for multiple things and make sure that we are able to schedule for all of the services first and foremost, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language and special education. But it also allows us when we're building the classes to make sure that we have pure models, both academic models and behavioral models for those students within the general education setting.

Lyndsey: So we really work together to determine how to cluster the students, the needs students, the behaviors of the students, and how best that we can do this together. And it is a team approach. And we do this every single year together. So it really is helpful for us when we sit down and we look at this as a team to make sure that we meet the needs of all students.

Lyndsey: And then by doing this, when we go to our schedules, we know, "Okay. Well, I'm going to be providing services in within the language arts classroom." It varies by district and by state, but in my district, we have a 90 minute uninterrupted language arts block. We could not pull students out from that block, but if I'm going into that block, I'm not considered to be interrupting that time. I'm considered to be supplementing with that time.

Lyndsey: So we're able to provide services within that language arts block. But we are able to look at can we also provide services collaboratively like in the science classroom. I've done some math stuff. It's not my favorite, but I like to go into the science classrooms, because there's tons of vocabulary and comprehension and things that we can do collaboratively with our teachers.

Lyndsey: So there's a lot of different ways. But when our students are grouped together, we're able to better see how we can provide flexible service delivery to those students.

Marisha: Yeah. Like for your second grade group, do you always go into that language arts classroom and work with that teacher? Or would you switch it up and do language arts for a while and then switch to math once you make your schedule do you say in that class?

Lyndsey: So I stick with language arts, but I sometimes switch the amount of time. So I am not. There's no research to support really that two times a week for 30 minutes is the most effective. So I like to be very flexible. Like I mentioned with my third grade block right now, I'm in there for almost two hours.

Lyndsey: But last year, for example, I was in my second grade room for 30 minutes. I left and did an articulation pull out group for 30 minutes, went back into my second grade room for another 45 minutes. And then I had some planning time. And then I had my third grade group for 45 minutes.

Lyndsey: So my times are very varied, but because of in the second grade classroom last year, we also had special education teachers and intervention teachers in the room, and we couldn't all see the same students at the same time, so we had to be flexible. And I was able to be the most flexible.

Lyndsey: So I came and I left. And what it also allowed me to do was I did 30 minutes of whole group co-teaching, and then I did 30 minutes to 45 minutes of small group time with my students or some 30 minutes of small group, 15 minutes of individual within the classroom, depending on what they were doing.

Lyndsey: And I was also then in there for the reading part of the block and the writing part of the block, which allowed for a lot more flexibility with targeting goals as well.

Marisha: Yeah. No, super helpful. Thank you again for breaking that down. Again, it's really nice to hear someone who's in the trenches, just breaking this down and just saying how you do it. I think it helps us, like all of us who are listening, just imagine what that would actually look like. And so I super appreciate that. And let's squeeze in one more question.

Lyndsey: Okay. I mean, I could talk about this forever.

Marisha: Me too. I told you already that I was so incredibly excited as I was writing out these questions, because I just love learning about this. And I think it's so incredibly powerful. Because you talked a lot this all is based on working with teachers.

Marisha: I feel like this would have to be an entirely different episode about working with administrators and figuring out how to make that work. But let's just keep it small. Like I'm an SLP who's wanting to do this for the first time. I'm going to start small. How would you recommend communicating with the teacher to get started with this?

Lyndsey: So I would say my recommendation is always around the holidays or a holiday is probably the best time because it allows for you to kind of say like, "Hey, I have this really great activity. I think that I can really target a lot of goals with my students. Would you mind if I came in and co-taught a lesson with you? Or even would you mind if I taught the lesson and you helped and supported me with behaviors and whatnot?"

Lyndsey: A lot of times teachers are like, "Really? Wow, yeah, sure. No problem." I've really never run into a situation where a teacher has said, "Oh, heck no. Do not come into my room." It's rare. And so I think if you approach it from that kind of standpoint, and it's really about thinking about, "Hey, we're all in this together. We're here to support the students. I'm here to help you too."

Lyndsey: I think coming about it as, "Hey, I have this really great lesson." And then once you go into one teacher's classroom and do it, and if you say, "I was just in Mrs. Smith's room, and this lesson was so amazing." Or if Mrs. Smith is like, "Oh my gosh, [Dr. Surasky 00:57:26] just came in and did this lesson in my room. It was so amazing. You should have really been there for."

Lyndsey: And then it's kind of that trickle down effect. What happens is other teachers who have students of yours are going to want you to be able to either do that same lesson or, "Hey, is there another time when you could come in and do a similar type of lesson?"

Lyndsey: And then it sort of just goes from there. And I think just, again, that start small. Find one person that you can do it with, but I find around the holidays, or some sort of event would be a great way to get started. So that just start small piece, one lesson to get your foot in the door.

Marisha: Yeah. So I actually have reached out to a teacher, and she really did not want me to come into her classroom. So like that might happen. But that's okay, because we're starting small, and we're doing this to benefit our students and to support them, so she might not be ready for it yet.

Marisha: Just reach out to another teacher and that's totally fine. The worst thing that will happen is that they'll say no. Like I said, we can just go to a different teacher and then word will start to spread. I actually did that in that school and I just went to a different teacher. I did the unit. She raved about it. She loved it, and then that teacher ended up asking me if I could come into her classroom.

Marisha: So it's just really funny how that works. But don't be afraid of those knows, especially keeping in mind that this is to benefit the students. We talked about a lot of the benefits that we might see from giving this a try. And there's so many more kind of things that spin off of that as well. So before we wrap up, did you have any other just closing thoughts that you wanted to share?

Lyndsey: No. I just think it's like you mentioned, keeping an open mind. And I think just kind of getting out of your comfort zone. We all like to stick with what we know. And I think that is the hardest part is getting out of our comfort zone and just remembering that success is the state of mind.

Lyndsey: So if you feel like you won't be successful in the classroom, you're already setting yourself up for that. So you have to keep in mind that take that small step and get yourself out of your comfort zone. And just take that one baby step and keep in mind that it's how you think about it, it's your perception of it, and you want success to be your state of mind. You want it to be positive. And you want to keep in mind a growth mindset with it all too, because it isn't all easy from the very beginning.

Marisha: Yeah, but anything worth doing isn't going to be easy. And I love that success is a mindset. I want a giant poster that says that. That's such a good quote. So thank you so much for all of these amazing tips and strategies and just breaking things down for us. If people want to find out more about you and what you do, where can they go to find out?

Lyndsey: So they can head to my website They can find me on Facebook and Instagram as Speech to the Core. And I have several articles on SIG 16 Perspectives. The inclusive first steps article, a growth mindset article that I've co-authored.

Lyndsey: And then there's lots of resources on ASHA's practice portal about service delivery models, caseload, workload, and there's so much more that we can talk about, about that. But there are so many amazing resources out there on ASHA's website and through the practice portal that everyone should make sure to check out.

Marisha: Okay, perfect. And then I'll be sure to do some research too and link to ... Well, it will be easy to link to your site and your social media accounts. And then I'll look up those articles too. So it's really easy for people to find those and the link to find that is But thank you so much Dr. Lyndsey Zurawski and I can't wait to see what else you come up with. I can't wait for that research 10 years from now and everything in between.

Lyndsey: Thank you.



Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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