October 1, 2016

Why Should SLPs Use Lesson Plans? (Resources Included)

The subject of SLPs writing lesson plans has recently been debated in both the workplace (school setting) and in online forums. Every week, I see new posts of SLPs resisting the idea of writing lesson plans because "we are not teachers".

And they're right. We are not teachers. We do not follow a curriculum and do not need to show how every therapy session meets the educational standards that the school is required to follow. After all, some of our students are 20% intelligible in conversation (at best) and/or only have a 50 word vocabulary. It makes sense that we shouldn't have to show how we are linking that to the curriculum because alas-- students first need to be able to express themselves and be understood when they are trying to express themselves.

However, a SLP can write lesson plans that do NOT mirror those of a teacher. 

Some argue that the IEP is the lesson plan, and I beg to differ. The IEP drives the lesson plan, just like the curriculum drives the teacher's lesson plan. The IEP tells you what needs to be addressed in a therapy session, but when you have a student who has 3 goals and you see him/her with 3 other students who also have 3 goals each, suddenly you are dealing with 12 goals-- some of which may be the same, but some of which may be drastically different. Each goal needs to be addressed at some point in the year. How can you say that the IEP drives your lesson plan in those cases? You need to know what activity you are using that can target the goal(s) of EACH student in your group. There needs to be a lesson plan so you know what activity you will be using to meet the students' goals.

Our lesson plans do not have to be detailed, common core aligned books that we hand into our administrators or principals. Sometimes lesson plans are required by admin, but sometimes the plans are for our eyes only. Either way, our lesson plans may just be a short memo of what we did the previous week and where we will go from there for the next week (example: initial /r/ word level mastered, next week "phrase level"). It may be more detailed and show a theme for the week and the themed activities we will be using to meet the goals of our students. This is not the point.

Here's the point. The fact that the lesson plans are happening at all means that you, the SLP, are planning lessons that will truly meet at least one goal of every student in your group because you took a few minutes to think about how you can plan a student/goal centered lesson. That is what matters.

Scrambling to think of activities to do last-minute is not the best practice, although we've all been there and sometimes it turns into a good session. However, if we know what we are doing before we go into that therapy session, we can have copies made, therapy items pulled from shelves, and we are ready to go. The kids will look at us as prepared individuals and not the scatterbrained SLPs we are sometimes portrayed to be (and that we sometimes feel like!). Lesson plans allow us to be as productive as we can be and not wasteful with time. There is no worry of "Oh my goodness, did I even target a goal for every student in this group?!" or "Didn't he already master this?". No more wasted sessions because we had a lesson plan to guide us where we needed to be at that point in time.

So how do I use lessons planning to guide my therapy? Each Friday, I take 20 minutes to examine my Excel spreadsheet which holds all my student information, as well as my lesson plans. I look at the students in my group and the goals each of them has on their IEPs. I take that information and think, "What can we do next week in speech that will target at least 1 goal per child?" This is especially useful when each child is working on a different level of articulation, or heaven forbid, mixed speech/language groups. I look though my activities (on TPT, in my filing cabinet, in my bookshelf, or in my storage closet) and type up a short lesson plan that usually looks along these lines: "Read Three Little Pigs, WH Questions/Compare & Contrast". This tells me what I need to have ready, and that I have 2 goals to work on during that session. No one's goals get forgotten that way.

How do you use lesson plans in speech therapy? Are you required to use them or do you create lesson plans willingly? If you don't use them already, has this at least changed your mind a little bit so that you will consider to use them to increase efficiency and effectiveness? Let me know!

*Addendum: I use the word lesson plan in this blog post, but I consider lesson plans to be the same as therapy plans and treatment plans. It's just a matter of semantics.


Psssst. Some of your favorite SLP Bloggers/SLP Sellers on TPT use lesson plans. Click below to see what they use to guide their therapy sessions.

 SLP Caseload Organization: Excel Document {FREEBIE} - Kayla SLP

Lesson Plan Membership (Skill and Themed Based Lessons for the Year) - Road to Speech

"A Slice of Speech" Linky (Multiple resources in one place!) - Speech is Sweet 

Therapy Plan "Road Maps" for the Year - Jenna Rayburn (Speech Room News) 

 Lesson Plan-Data Collection Forms - KristinM12

SLP Workload Forms FREEBIE Lesson Plan/Data Forms - Sparklle SLP

Speech and Language Lesson Plan Templates - Sparklle SLP

"Month at a Glance" Lesson Plans for the Year - Speech to the Core

Speech and Language Therapy Lesson Plans for Back to School and Fall - Speechy Musings

Weekly Lesson Plan Freebie - Natalie Snyders

Peek at My Week Lesson Plans - Teacher Speech 365

March 16, 2016

App Review: Go Sequencing by Smarty Ears

"I wish we always had this game and could play it every day!"- Actual Kindergartner