How to Make In-Class Group Speech Successful {blog series} – PART 2

I am so excited about the amazing feedback and comments I have gotten so far on this topic.  It really warms my heart that so many of you are able to use some of my tips and tricks to have a really successful year.  Just in case you missed PART 1, you can head over and read it now by clicking HERE.  Now…are you ready for the next part in this blog series?  Let’s get to it!
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PART 2: Make Your To-Do List and Set Expectations

If you are anything like me, writing things down, making checklists, and post-its everywhere is a way of life!  Not only for work but for my everyday life, I HAVE to have things written down and in my face.  This is especially important when it comes to planning your in-class group speech sessions.
Here is what I include in my to-do list:
1.  Ingredients/Craft Supplies Needed
2.  Materials/Tools Needed
3.  Miscellaneous Items
4. Visuals
5.  An area to list whatever you NEED to purchase, find, etc.
6.  Lastly, an area to check off what is completed for the week
Check out the image below of what my “weekly to-do list” looks like.  If you think this is something that would be extremely useful to you…you are in luck!!  Just click on the image and you can download this FREEBIE!
Session To-Do List

An important and HUGE part of my group sessions is VISUALS!  Like you read in PART 1 (or if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram) you know that almost every single activity I do involves visuals…from circle time to snack to group speech.  Using visuals drastically changes the way my therapy sessions go.  With that said, you definitely need to have them prepared.  Personally, I use Smarty Symbols (www.smartysymbols.com).  I find their ever-growing image library has just about everything I need for my activities.  No matter what source, website, etc. you use for your visuals, here are my two tips….SAVE and ORGANIZE!  Save them to a “Visuals” Folder on your computer that way you can easily access and reprint them as needed (like when one of your students decides to crumble them, lol).

Now let’s talk organization of those visuals.  If you search on Pinterest, you will find endless ways to organize visual aids, materials, etc.  What works for me is organizing by “category” that way I can easily access the visuals I need week to week.  They have these amazing little folders at Dollar Tree that are perfect for storing visuals.  You can check out one of them in the image below.  I like to organize my visuals by the following categories:  Actions, Toys/Games, Prepositions, Colors/Shapes, Animals, Food, Cooking Tools/Supplies, Phrases, Art/Crafts, and Miscellaneous.  Obviously you can decide which “categories” best serve you, but hopefully that is a good “starting” point to your visual aids organization glory!
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Ok, so we have covered the “to-do list”, let’s get to setting expectations…REALISTIC expectations that is!  Let’s all be honest…you go into a classroom to do a group session thinking you have everything prepped and planned from start to finish including all of the goals you are going to target.  Does that always work out in the long run?  If it does, PERFECT….if not, let’s see if we can work out a way to complete that group session without being overly disappointed if everything doesn’t work out according to the plan.  Although your group activity “on paper” can target 5, 6, 7 or more speech/language goals, that isn’t always the case when it’s being carried out.  So here is my first tip….BE REALISTIC.  I love being able to use one activity to target multiple goals but in reality if that doesn’t happen, IT IS OKAY.  Which leads me to my second tip, pick ONE (yes ONLY one) goal to target for each of your in-class group sessions.  Write it down at the top of your lesson plan or plaster it on a post-it…whatever you choose to do, just make sure you focus on that one goal.  Not only will this eliminate stress BUT you will be also be overly excited if (and when) your group session ends up targeting MULTIPLE goals without you even planning on it!
IMG_0921 Let’s look at an example of these REALISTIC expectations….
In-Class Group Session Activity:  Pumpkin Play Dough (You can find this in my Cooking & Craft Visual Recipe Pack)
Expectation: 2 out of 6 students will independently request a material, tool, or ingredient
While going through the your play dough activity, Tim requests a spoon…..Ava requests to “mix”…(Expectation MET!)…Josh verbally states 2 new vocabulary words, Kim answers a WH Question, etc.  It feels amazing knowing your expected “goal” was met but it feels even better knowing that it went even further and 2, 3, 4, etc. goals were achieved!

My last tip for you is to write/type out all of the goals/objectives you want to target for your in-class group sessions for the year.  Each time you are planning a group session, go to your list and circle ONE.  At the end of that activity if your goal was achieved…cross it off, black it out, check it off, whatever!  The following week (or whenever your next in-class session is approaching), choose another and do the same if it is achieved.  This is another great way to visually see what you are targeting and ACCOMPLISHING from session to session.  This may seem like a very simple detail, however; imagine the feeling you will get when at the end of the school year you can look at ALL of the goals crossed off on your list for in-class group speech sessions.  Not only that, it’s a nice way to keep track of what your “target” is from week to week or for when someone (especially a supervisor/administrator) asks you in passing, “What did you work on today in your group session”?
IMG_0922 I really hope you enjoyed PART 2 of this series.  I absolutely love sharing these tips with you and hearing your own experiences/tips!  There is nothing better than being able to share information and collaborating with fellow SLPs.  In the next part of this series I will be discussing…Carrying out your lessons and easily collecting data!

Thanks friends for always supporting me!

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