Speech Simplified.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

I believe hard things happen in order to bring about a greater good. One silver lining I discovered during shelter in place was the value of SIMPLIFYING. 

Working from home, meant working with what I had. No more scrambling to gather materials between sessions. And eliminating the excess to focus on my students, I actually found a greater sense of calm, despite the turbulent times. 

This got me thinking: How can I continue to keep speech simple when school reopens? 

I'll start by focusing on those tools that give me the most bang for my buck. The ones I can use with multiple groups to target multiple goals throughout the year. Here are my Top 5. 

  • 5-Finger Stories The beauty of this no-prep, all age activity is all you need is your hand! I picked this little gem up at a writer's workshop training and it's been a go-to in my speech room ever since. In a nutshell, students use their 5 fingers to retell a personal narrative by starting at their thumb and telling what their story will be about, adding three details as they touch their next three fingers, then ending at their pinkie with how it made them feel. If you're interested in learning more about this "handy" speech tool I have blog post which goes into more detail here. 

  • Super Simple Story Frames This Summarizing Graphic Organizer from Speech Time Fun follows the 'Someone-Wanted-But-So-Then' framework and can be used to summarize practically any story. I love using it with my older students who are working on using complex sentences. Here is another simple story structure freebie for younger students getting familiar with the parts of a story.
  • Fold & Draw When time allows, story frames can also be created by folding and drawing. These homemade story frames can be used when retelling stories but also work great when recounting a series of steps. Here a student drew and dictated the steps he used in making a cupcake on an iPad app. These are wonderful for sharing with families for continued language practice. 
  • Conversation Kickstarters Believe it or not, I've used this Conversation Kickstarter with preschool through middle school students. And while pragmatics has been one of the most challenging areas to work on during distance learning, we even found a way to adapt with this interactive version. Students practice keeping the conversation going 5 ways - Asking, Answering, and Reciprocating Questions, Making Comments, and Asking Follow-up QuestionsConversation Kickstarters simultaneously offer visual reinforcement for students and data collection for therapists. It's a win-win.

  • Aesop's Fables I can't tell you how much mileage I've gotten out of this ONE book. During distance learning these stories were amazing for targeting inferencing, context clues, making predictions, and finding the main idea with my 3rd through 5th graders. Students enjoyed guessing the moral and talking about what the stories meant to them. I love that the lessons in these 2,500 year old stories are still applicable today. 

Since I'll be starting remotely this year, I like that most of these resources can be used virtually as well. By simplifying, I hope to have more time and energy for the things I love - getting outside, reading, and cooking.  

Has distance learning changed your approach? What are your favorite tools for simplifying? Let me know. I'd love to hear from you!

Stay fired up!
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