One of the main things that school SLPs struggle with is being effective in group speech therapy sessions. We’ve all been there. How are we supposed to keep up with everyone’s goals, make sure the students are engaged, and take all the data at the same time?
I think the difficulties of group speech therapy come down to those three main things:
- It’s hard to juggle multiple activities
- It’s hard to take data on multiple students
- It’s hard to accurately target multiple goals
Unless you are doing stations at each session, this isn’t easy. As much as I love stations, it isn’t always feasible when working with younger students who don’t have a lot of autonomy. SO, what if you could take one activity and manipulate it to target multiple goals?
That’s what we’re chatting about today. Here are my best tips for how to target multiple goals using one activity in group speech therapy.
(Note: This post contains affiliate links.)
Find an activity that is motivating for your group
First, find an activity that you’ll think will be motivating for your group. Maybe it’s a craft or book or a cool toy set. You’ll want to think about the age and ability levels of the students in the group as well as what their interests are.
It’s also ok to use multiple activities, games, toys, or resources in one session. If you like to let the students choose the activity, make sure to give them choices out of carefully selected items.
Choose one objective from each student that you’ll target
Do NOT try to target every objective for every student in one session. No. You’ll drive yourself bonkers. Focus on one objective per student per activity. If you can get to more, great! But having one focus can make you more effective at teaching and targeting that specific goal.
Ask yourself probing questions about the activity
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. You may have to get creative and think outside the box on how to change up an activity to target the objective. A good place to start is asking yourself these questions:
- Can I target the objective directly using the activity?
- Can I manipulate the game or activity to lend itself to the goals I want to target?
- Do I need to supplement the activity with task cards to better target the goal?
- Will this let me teach and scaffold the skills that are being targeted?
For example, maybe you want to use the learning resources surprise boxes with your group. You have students targeting articulation, vocabulary, and comparing and contrast.
- Can I target the objective directly? Articulation – no. Vocabulary – yes. Comparing/ contrasting – yes.
- Can I manipulate the activity to lend itself to the goal? Articulation – yes, I’ll have the student say their word or sentence the amount of times as the number on the boxes. Maybe I’ll put tiny articulation cards inside the boxes. Vocabulary – yes, I’ll use the items in the box to talk about the categories each belongs in and describe them. Comparing/contrasting – yes, I’ll have the student compare and contrast the items in the boxes.
- Do I need to supplement? Articulation – yes, I’ll need cards or word lists and visuals. Vocabulary – yes, I’ll use the EET to help with describing. Compare/contrast – yes, I’ll use the EET to help with comparing/contrasting.
- Will this let me teach and scaffold the skills being targeted? Yes, this activity is flexible enough that I can stop and teach the skills they need for each goal.
When you do this enough, it’ll become second nature to you. Because I’ve done it SO much, I can take a book, toy, or craft and use it for most of my groups that day. Oftentimes I’ll pull things out to supplement the activity for a specific student as well. This method overall really makes planning a snap!
Focus on the objectives, not the game
During the activity, sometimes it’s easy to take the focus off of the main goal and just play the game or use the activity as it’s intended. You definitely want the kids to stay motivated and have fun, but make sure to keep your focus.
You want your students to improve their speech and language skills, so make sure that they know that’s the reason why they are with you. Plus, it’ll be easier on you to take data if you are focusing on the objective.
Pro tip: You do not have to take data the entire session. Take the beginning or end of the activity and grab that data, then move on to teaching the skill!
Try it out! It’s ok if it flops
Not all activities will work perfectly for every group and every goal. Trial and error is ok! Don’t be scared to try something out. The more you practice, the easier it’ll get.
My favorite multiple goal activities
When choosing resources, you want to choose resources that are fun AND lend themselves to multiple goals. Here are a few of my favorites:
I hope these tips help you crush those group speech therapy sessions! What’s your favorite way to target multiple goals?