In case you’re curious, here is a little background on why I chose this topic… In grad school, I referred to Mark Ylvisaker’s books all the time. His research focus was brain injury, but he has amazing resources for a variety of skills. I also enjoy reading about growth mindset, Mind Up, Whole Brain Teaching, and more. It has really shaped what I do with my students, and we are having a blast!
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But I’m an SLP; why do all that “extra” stuff? Of course, it is important for SLPs to have a strong core knowledge of how to treat speech/language disorders, but there is so much more that we can do for our students. Our students are at risk for having low self-esteem and for “falling through the cracks.” I believe that there are quick, easy strategies that we can use to help support our students. These strategies may help them meet their speech/language goals more quickly, but it can also help them grow as lifelong learners. Yeah yeah, kind of gushy, but I believe it! So how do I use this with my students?
I give my students “a talk” in a variety of situations. For example, I might use this when…
- They are starting to learn a new skill. (“It’s too hard!”)
- They are plateauing.
- They aren’t engaged in therapy.
- They’re feeling discouraged. (“I hate my ah’s [r’s].”)
I will often pull out my handy dandy brain model (link below) and talk to my students about why we do what we do in speech (or in class). It only takes a few minutes, but I’ve really seen it help turn students around.
There are so many ways to help a variety of students (even ones with receptive language difficulties) understand this concept. Visuals, visuals, visuals! I love the brain model, but drawing “smooth” and “rough” roads on paper can be helpful. We sometimes cut out sticky notes and put them on the brain. Play-Doh is also a great tool for students to create their own models. We can also make obstacle courses (mini or life-size) to show students how much easier it is to get through a “smooth” road. We talk about ways to “clear the rood.”
What are your favorite brain-based strategies to use with your students?