Oooooh I so have mixed feelings when it comes to the beginning of the school year. I love summer and I am always sad to see it go (although I sure do get excited with the idea of Fall festivities). However, I enjoy the refreshing feeling of the start of a new year. The beginning of the year feels fresh and full of possibility personally and professionally.
I started blogging in 2013 because I love browsing the amazing ideas from other SLPs and thought “hey…I can share my ideas, too”. Soooo I thought I’d share with you my planning for the first week of services with my speech/language clients.
This year, I am working with students ranging from kindergarten through high school (although, as other SLPs are so familiar with, my caseload is fluid at this point) with goals addressing articulation, language, and pragmatic language. Such a range of students and range of goals/needs requires creative planning and I am so looking forward to it.
Let’s start with talking about the beginning of the year.
I plan my first session (possibly first two sessions) with the main goal of the students getting to know me, me getting to know the students, and the students familiarizing themselves with the other students and my speech space. Taking the time at the beginning of the year to allow for everyone to get to know each other absolutely pays for itself as the year progresses. I am connected with my students, they trust me, they look forward to coming to see me (and I look forward to seeing them 🙂 ), I know how they work, and I have a better idea as to how to work with them to address their areas of need. Here are some of the activities I will do in my speech/language sessions to start this school year….
Goal Card Activity:
I don’t lead with this. I usually lead with one of the fun games or documents listed below, but one of the BEST activities I have done with my students is to complete a Goal Card. (I will attach a picture of this after I have students complete them this week). As a group, we review goals. I do this so each student knows what he/she is working on and so that the students know what their friends are working on to help keep them accountable. As we review the goals, students complete a Goal Card. I give each student a large index card (or cut a piece of paper in half) and either have them write out keywords for their goal or I write it. Then they can decorate it however they want. I always say to decorate it in a way that might help you remember you goal. At the beginning of each therapy session, I take out their goal cards so that we can remind ourselves what we are working on…
Jenga (amazon link)
- I have Jenga blocks that I wrote conversation starters on…questions and statements that get students talking.
- Check out my post on Conversation Jenga (<–click here)
Headbanz (amazon link)
- I love this game. I do not play it the way it is intended. My students take turns picking a card (the guesser). The other students take turners using their language and best speech sounds to describe (give a clue) the picture on the card. After each student gives a clue, the guesser can guess. If the person guessing needs more clues, he/she needs to ask for more clues (not only working on language skills, but also working on pragmatic language skills
- This document has scaffolded activities for students to complete in order to share information about themselves. I’m excited for this given my wide range of ages of students.
- This document has GREAT resources. I plan to use the “Speech Expectations” as a base…while adding in some of my own expectations. Setting solid and high expectations at the beginning of the year and being consistent with those expectations helps speech/language groups to run smoothly throughout the year…even when “playing games” (and we all know that by “playing games” I mean the students believe they are playing games, but really we are administering our best interventions at this time…brilliant!)
- This resource is FREE and fantastic for our students with limited language or who communicate better with visual supports.
What do you do your first week of therapy sessions?