I am always looking for ways to improve therapy and get everything I can out of each minute with my students. I love that after 17 years as an SLP I am still learning new ways to increase productivity and motivation in therapy. I wrote a few post throughout this school year about some of the new ideas I was trying this year. I wanted to share with you my experience with the positives and negatives after a full year of implementing these ideas. Each title has the link to the original post so you can read more details about each idea.
Summary: I placed a Joke of The Day board in each grades hallway at my school. I changed the jokes each day to help encourage increased understanding of language. A longer description of how jokes can improve language skills is in the original post. I also had students submit jokes towards the end of the year.
Positives: The jokes were a big hit. Students, teachers, and staff enjoyed the jokes each day. It seemed to put a smile on people’s faces. Teachers would share with me that sometimes they had to explain to some students why the joke was funny which was the dialogue I was hoping to start. Most of the year many staff members were unaware that I was the one behind the jokes.
Negatives: The only negative was the time it took to change the jokes each day. I had to make arrangements for the joke to be changed if I was out of the building as well. The students got upset if the same joke was there two days in a row.
Will I continue this next year?: YES! I am going to continue the Joke of The Day next year. The goal was to expand the students understanding of language. I was able to reach the entire school and not just my own students. I think this was successful at increasing their knowledge of vocabulary and phonemic awareness.
Summary: This past year I purchased spiral notebooks for each of my speech students. Once I added Duct Tape to the notebook to increase stability, the students selected which notebook they wanted for the year. The notebook served multiple purposes. It was where we tracked progress throughout the school year. It was used a reference for correct production, fluency techniques, and language rules. It was also used as a place to keep homework and therapy work.
Positives: I think it was helpful to have a place for the students to keep word list and progress pages for the school year. We reflected on these throughout the year to compare how close they are coming to meeting their goal. This was helpful in motivating students that had lost interest in therapy. The Speech Notebook also helped to increase the completion of homework. Students were rewarded for completed homework. I liked that parents could view the notebook to see what was happening in therapy that week.
Negatives: I purchased the notebooks for my students so I had some personal cost in them but I bought them cheap at a large office supply chain when they were deeply discounted so it wasn’t that bad. Some students lost their notebooks throughout the year and I did not replace them. I told them that they needed to bring another notebook to use for speech. I was fortunate that only a few students lost their original notebook. I think what helped with this is that I attached their reward card to the notebook. If they didn’t bring their notebook they didn’t get a punch on their card towards the reward. This was an essential part of the success of the notebooks.
Will I continue this next year?: YES! Since I rarely have communication with the parents of my students, the Speech Notebooks were a good way to let them know what was happening in speech and how they could help their child at home.
Summary: I changed my reward system this past year. Instead of sticker charts and prize boxes I used hole punch cards and free rewards.
Positives: Using the new system cut down on the cost of my reward system. I no longer needed to spend money on stickers and prizes that the students didn’t appreciate. I purchased 500 business cards designed as punch cards and a star hole punch so kids could not add their own punches. The rewards were things that did not cost me any money. Most were done during therapy and included some personal attention from me. You can see the list on the original post. The students enjoyed the rewards and I didn’t hear any complaints.
Negatives: It was difficult finding a good way to attach the cards to the notebooks. After several attempts I used string through the hole in the notebook. It worked well for most if they kept the card tucked in their notebook. Some cards were lost in desk throughout the year. If a student lost I card they had to start over with a new one. If they found their card I would add those punches back to their new card. Once they lost a card it didn’t usually happen again.
Will I continue this next year?: YES! The Super Speech Rewards and cards were much simpler and cheaper than my previous system. I enjoyed spending some extra time with my students getting to know them more personally. Most students selected to eat lunch with me and I allowed them to bring a friend. It was a great reward for both of us.
Reflecting on this School Year in Review 2015 I am pleased with the new ideas that I have implemented into therapy. I think it has made me a more efficient and effective SLP. I have to thank all of the SLPs that provided me with inspiration to make the changes. Please let me know if you have used any of the ideas above and how they worked out for you.