Monday, September 28, 2015

Frenzied SLPs: Middle School Materials & Motivators

This is my first official post as a member of the Frenzied SLPs! I'm honored & humbled to be a part of this amazing group of SLPs!!! Check out our Facebook Page for news!
I haven't worked with the middle school population in about 12 years, and I have to admit that it's not my favorite group. In my school system (as well as previous school systems where I worked in Ga. & SC), we do our best to phase out speech services by middle school, if not 5th grade. We weigh the benefits of continuing language services (because that's mostly their certification by that age) or staying in the classroom. In middle school, the students are at the mercy of the SLP's schedule, which means they have an excellent chance of being pulled out of academics. Almost all of our language students are also receiving resource/inclusion from the special ed teacher. For speech students, it is very rare when I have a student who continues to have difficulties with speech sounds at that age. When I do, I look hard at how motivated they are to master their misarticulations. I have had many "come to Jesus" meetings with 4th & 5th graders about how their speech can affect them in middle school and later in life! I find that by 4th grade, they're "over" speech. At this writing, between my 2 schools, I have 4 5th graders (2 who are on a last ditch effort to master /r/, one on a last ditch effort to finish the /s,z/, & 1 self-contained sped), and 5 4th graders (3 language, 1 self-contained sped, and 1 finishing up her /r/).
To determine motivation with my older elementary students, I keep track of when they do their homework. If they want to correct their sounds, they'll do the homework. I try to make their homework a little more "grown up" than my younger students'.
 Motivating middle schoolers is so very difficult. When I served a middle school, I had a little place in front of the auditorium, since I was only there for a couple of hours/week.  I would poll the students each week to see what they wanted to do. I would tell them what my plans were for the younger kids, and, to be perfectly honest, 8 out of 10 times they would want to do the same activity. I think it gave them a breather from the academics. At a time when they're between having to act like kid or adult, it gave them a chance to act like a kid.
I would also ask them about rewards. Stickers & stamps just won't do for that age group! Most of the time, it was some sort of candy. Nothing big, but it somehow got them to work. It also got them to come to therapy. They are expected to come to therapy on their own, since going to get them would take up half of their therapy time. I would get them the first couple of times, but then it would be up to them to come on their own.
If you're a Middle School SLP right now, you're really lucky that you have TpT & apps. I would almost be excited to work in a middle school with those resources. (Notice I said almost!)
How about you? Is Middle School a "yay", "nay" or an "ehh" for you?
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6 comments:

  1. They are a challenging group, but it is so rewarding. So much is happening in the brain at this age that I think it's an awesome time to make some amazing language connections.

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  2. I completely agree that sometimes they WANT to do the little kid stuff- like a small moment in time where they can be little again (I mean I don't think anyone ENJOYS being a middle schooler). I always say that the little kid are physically exhausting but the older kids are mentally exhausting. Now that my children are grown I'd actually like to move up to high school I think.

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  3. I do like working with middle school students-it's really exciting when you know you've reached them! And I used candy quite a bit too-whatever it takes, I guess.

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  4. Love your honesty. Love that you let students choose the activity. Great ideas!

    All Y’all Need

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  5. Such a great and honest post! Thank you so much for it!

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  6. I LOVE middle schoolers! They are the best group of students! I see much progress with students in articulation during these years!

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