I am so excited to have Martha Coller on the blog today! She has been an SLP Now member for about 18 months and graciously offered to share her experiences with YOU! She’s going to tell us all about how we can plan a month of therapy!
Now, let’s take a peek at what an SLP Now planning session looks like for Martha…
Before SLP Now
Before I became an SLP Now member, my planning consisted of pulling worksheets from files, binders, and SLP books, as well as printing off related documents I could find on Teachers Pay Teachers or a random Google search.
Did I meet the goals of my students? Yes, but it felt choppy, and it never flowed from one session to the next.
I was always trying to remember what we did last time and then figuring out what to do next. I was never quite sure if I was doing enough teaching versus obtaining enough trials. I’d hop between goals more than I wanted to because, quite honestly, finding materials was time-consuming and elaborate.
Planning with SLP Now
My planning sessions look very different today. I’ve been a member of the SLP Now membership site for about 18 months, and it has brought a breath of fresh air into my therapy room.
Today, I’m actually working on lesson plans for my students (something I believe in doing but had rarely found time to do before I found this site).
Let me walk you through what my planning sessions look like now.
Step 1: Pick a Theme
I pick a theme. January is going to be all about DRAGONS in the AO Elementary Speech Room! Marisha’s site offers theme suggestions, and I’m thinking we will address presidents next month.
Once inside a theme, I find book suggestions related to the theme. For example, the dragon theme includes the books Dragons Love Tacos and Duncan the Story Dragon.
I did a little bit of work before school started this year and applied for some grant money on the Donors Choose website following Marisha’s suggestions. I picked all the themes I wanted to cover this year and then chose two books per theme so I would have all the books on hand at the start of each month. To my surprise, my project was fully funded by parents, grandparents, and local businesses.
I also picked up some props and manipulatives to match themes at local dollar stores and yard sales. I think I’m most proud of my pirate theme box, which is complete with a treasure chest, gold necklaces, eye patches, pirate games, and a pirate flag. These boxes help me stay organized and make my lessons more interactive than ever before!
Step 2: Select Materials
After I pick my theme and books, I then print out the book guides and activity guides. They guide me in selecting targets quickly!
I’ll also print (or grab) any skill packs or teaching visuals I may need for new goals I will be working on this week. As I repeat these themes and goals over time, I won’t need to reprint these items, as they’ll already be in my theme box or organized in my skill-based binders.
Step 3: The Planning
I sit down with my weekly schedule/data log/planning guide (it’s all-in-one for me) and start entering targets.
For example, “Joe” is first. (I actually don’t have a “Joe” on my caseload, but we are going to pretend here for the sake of confidentiality.) Joe has goals for spatial concepts, antonyms, and categories.
I see that the Dragons Love Tacos vocabulary resource lists five antonym pairs. We can focus on these five during today’s read-aloud!
“Jane” is also in this first group of the day, and she has goals for adjectives and past tense verbs. The grammar resource page lists nine targets for each of those goals, but since Jane hasn’t been instructed on adjectives yet, I’m definitely going to start her off with an introduction to adjectives via the grammar teaching visuals in the membership. I want her to learn that we can describe pictures in our dragon book by category, size, color, feel, and function. I plan to identify those descriptive words for her today and then have her help me determine which type of descriptive word it is using the Description Language Strip I’ve printed out in color and laminated. (It’s so nice to be able to grab-and-go and finally have resources that I can use again and again.)
Step 4: Getting Organized
I make a list of all the items I may need for therapy this month.
For example, I need to make copies of the Roll-A-Dragon sheet Marisha provided in this lesson. It will be perfect for those drill-based articulation sessions while keeping us focused on our theme.
I’m also going to pick up some taco toppings for some taste-testing we will do later in the week. Talk about a great opportunity to describe, compare, and share opinions!
I’m also going to look and see if this book is available on the FREE Epic website (where you can find FREE digital books!) so I can present it on my SMART Board (I do realize I’m super lucky) as another means of presentation or reference next week.
I’ll need to grab my colored construction paper from the office for the dragon craft included in the activity guide.
Maybe I’ll even pick up some tomatoes, cilantro, and onions so my students working on following multi-step directions can make a salsa recipe. (This is where my mind races, and I fall back in love with my career!)
Each book typically gets me through about two weeks of therapy but could be shortened or lengthened based on your needs! I’ll then repeat this process for the second book, and voila!
A month of therapy planning is complete, and I sat down once. A little bit of planning, printing, and prepping makes me feel organized and focused for four weeks of treatment! Scattered, disorganized, and panicked are feelings of the past!
Why Literacy-Based Therapy?
I believe in literacy-based therapy as much as possible! I’ve seen an increase in engagement and carryover since transitioning to the use of more books in my lessons. I use most of the site’s book resources when selecting targets for lessons, in addition to any creativity that pops into my head based on these resources (insert Pin-the-Eye-Patch-on-the-Pirate game here, wink)!
In addition to the literacy-based resources, I also have access to TEACH THE SKILLS! I think this was one of the biggest hurdles I struggled with in my therapy over the past 11 years. It felt arduous to create my own materials for each and every skill I needed to cover. I’d start so many and then inevitably never finish creating the materials because there are SO many other things to do as a school SLP! But now here it is, at my fingertips. I just click, print, maybe laminate (if I have time!), and GO!
What’s really neat for me this month is that I get to teach this method to my graduate intern, who is starting this week. (I hope she’s not scared of dragons!)