Monday, November 24, 2014

My Speech Therapy Reward System

I have been an SLP for over ten years, and have been working towards an effective reward system for many of those years. From what I should reward, to how much, to how often: it is a delicate balance. I want my students to work hard in therapy towards their goals, but I also expect them to be well-behaved, attentive, and quiet. Additionally, I want them to complete speech homework on a weekly basis. Making these requirements is enough for some kids, they do these things because they are supposed to. Receiving verbal praise is also enough. 


For the vast majority, it is not enough.

Through a lot of trial and error, I have found something that works for me. 

The first part of my reward system is the sticker chart for speech therapy time. All the students are listed on the chart. They receive a sticker at the end of their speech session if they: 

A. Work hard
B. Enter Quietly
C. Be Kind
D. Be Quiet

They get one sticker if they are basically good for their speech time. When they land on the pink line on the chart, they get to go into the treasure chest and choose a prize. More on the treasure chest below. I hand-drew pink lines at about 5 square intervals. Some closer together, some farther apart. I used to allow students to put up a sticker on this chart when they brought their homework, but that is a big change that I have made, and will explain below.

For my students, they are pretty motivated to earn stickers in their session. Essentially, students get a prize once a month if they attend speech once per week, and twice a month if they attend 2+ times per week. I have always been pleasantly surprised by this simple incentive. Some of my students have more challenging behavioral problems, and I use whatever works for them. I often consult with the teacher or school psychologist for this, but usually my own reward system works well. 

Another addition to the sticker chart is the Sticker Stop.  I found the idea here. Before students put a sticker on the chart, they answer the listed questions. We all need to work on doing this more consistently, but we are often rushing to get back to class as another group is coming in for their speech time. I will work on this!

I have 52 students on my caseload (as of today, with 5 pending!). That means I send home 52 pieces of paper each week. We all know how important homework is for carryover, mastery, awareness, etc. On average, the same 6 students consistently brought back completed homework assignments. That is a 12% return rate.


Of course, the kids who actually do their homework make progress and graduate from speech sooner. No surprise there!

My level of frustration has increased over the years to near psychosis. I have wasted reams of paper. I have tried tracking homework meticulously. I have tried calling parents. I have tired detention threats. I have tried only giving new homework if a student bring in completed homework. 

Not much success with these methods.

One of the problems with an IEP is that I can't really require parents to do speech homework. What is the consequence (besides slow progress)? I can't kick anyone of of my program.  

Not that I would over homework.

One thing I tried that did help, was having teachers put speech homework in their Friday Folder. Our school district has a folder that goes home every week, in every class. Parents are required to review and sign the folder before returning it on the following Monday. This has helped to ensure that the homework actually makes it home! Rather than being shoved into a desk. I stopped passing out homework in therapy about 5 years ago.

Over this past summer, I really thought a lot about what to do to solve the homework problem. I have had to spend some money and re-vamp my entire system, but it is working. 

I now have two sticker charts, one for therapy and one for homework. When a student turns in homework, they put one sticker up for each completed assignment. Every other time that they turn something in, they receive and extra special reward. 

Every. Other. Time. 

And, the rewards are super awesome. 

Here a few.

Sometimes they get a sweet-treat, and other times they get to choose 3 prizes from the treasure chest. Or, get a ticket to get a free ice cream at lunch. 

The grand finale is that I will bring them lunch from McDonald's.

And guess what? It is working! I now have 38/52 students who turn in homework consistently. That is 73%, a huge increase from 12%. Two students have not turned in any homework this year, and the rest have turned in just 1 or 2 assignments.

I am really proud of myself. 

What has been extra motivating for those who have rarely turned in homework in the past, is seeing other students get cool rewards. Peer pressure is an amazing force. 

Onto the treasure chest. 

I get most of my prizes at the Dollar Tree, Oriental Trading Company, Target $1 section, and Party City. I shop the back to school sales in the summer for cheap erasers, mechanical pencils, and crayons. I always look for after holiday clearance items as well. I am often surprised at what is popular. For some reason plastic vampire teeth are always a hit. So are slap bracelets. I try to use PTA money for prizes, as well as other "consumables."  I spend 25-35cents per prize, also that the 10cent prizes are not motivating. Having all the prizes be about the same cost, makes them equally as valuable to the students. 

The result, is well, results! 

Students are doing homework. Students are making progress. My personal goal has been met!

What do you do for your speech kids? Share below in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Speech Articulation Mini Books

My students love doing mini-books in speech. I created this activity last year, and have brought it out again for therapy recently. I have mini-books in my TPT store that target syntax, articulation, vocabulary, questions, pragmatics, and fluency. Something for almost everyone on your caseload!  

Sushi for Speech: "SH" Articulation Mini-Book
For this blog post, I will focus on my articulation Mini Books.

After downloading the file, print and cut out each page. They look best in color, but are fun in black/white as well. Arrange the pages in any order and staple the side making a little book. Additionally, each page could be used for stimulus cards. This product is great for therapy or to send home for homework. 

Here are visual instructions using the Sushi for Speech mini-book. This book targets the "SH" phoneme. You can buy it here for $2. These instructions are included with all mini-book purchases.

In addition to the Sushi for Speech book that targets "SH," I have many more sounds in the mini-book style. 

I have created a Super Boy and Super Girl series for /r/ in all of it's forms. You can purchase the entire set of boys and girls, featuring all the /r/ phonemes, for $12. Get it here. The sounds included are: /ar/, /ear/, /ire/, /or/, /air/, /er/, and pre-vocalic /r/.  

Super Boy: R Articulation Mini Book Super Pack

Or, you can buy each /r/ phoneme individually for $2. Here are the links for the Super Boy sets: /ar/, /ear/, /ire/, /or/, /air/, /er/, and pre-vocalic /r/

Here are the links for the Super Girl sets: /ar/, /ear/, /ire/, /or/, /air/, /er/, and pre-vocalic /r/.

In addition to the /r/ phoneme books, I have created a slew of complex cluster books. Each set is $2 and feature two different themes. They are pretty much unisex, but have a minimum of something that will appeal to either gender. 

The STR complex sound books feature "The Empire Strikes Back" with Star Wars and "Elephants in a Straight Line." Get it here
STR Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe THR complex sound books feature "I see Three Ninja Turtles" and princesses at the "Royal Throne." Get it here
THR Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe FL complex sound books feature astronauts "Flying in Space" and little birdies in "Flock of Birds." Get it here
FL Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe FR complex sound books feature "From Space Robots" and "Fruity Fr Words." Get it here
FR Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SHR complex sound books feature "Shrinking Super Heroes" and "Would you like Shrimp in your Sushi." Get it here
SHR Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SKR complex sound books feature "Scram! Monsters!" and "I Scream for Ice Cream." Get it here
SKR Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SKW complex sound books feature "Super Hero Girls Squad" and "Super Hero Boys Squad." Get it here
SKW Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SL complex sound books feature "Sly Foxes" and "Slow Music." Get it here
SL Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SPL complex sound books feature "Splits Gymnastics" and "Splash" sea animals. Get it here
SPL Complex Sounds Mini BooksThe SPR complex sound books feature "Spring Bunnies" and "Spring into Action Super Heroes." Get it here
SPR Complex Sounds Mini Books

Hope you enjoy your books!

Monday, November 17, 2014

November in Speech

We are hard at work in speech. Here is a look at all that we have done so far for the month of November. 

First, my bulletin boards. Keep Calm and Gobble on! I only had one "B" for "Gobble," so I had to create one out of some other letters. None of the kids have seemed to notice. But, it is all I look at all day.I really need to move on...

Our Grateful and Thankful board is a huge hit. Super simple, but bold. I love seeing what the kids write, especially in their own handwriting.


I incorporated my chalkboard yet again with an Autumn tree with leaves. Each student's name is on a leaf.

For students working on articulation goals, they have done two Thanksgiving themed activities the past few weeks. The first is a turkey with a spinning wheel. Targets words are written on the wheel for practice. I have no idea where I got this worksheet. I have had it since the beginning of my career. It is probably a copy from an elementary holiday book. Sorry! We are also doing a paint-dobber page from Mia McDaniel. You can get your own set Thanksgiving Fun Pack here

Students with language goals are using my Thanksgiving Has/Have cards, Thanksgiving Concepts cards, and Thanksgiving Concepts and Following Directions page. Check them out here in my TPT shop. We are also doing a Following Directions page from this Thanksgiving Fun Pack. I have been collecting holiday freebies from TPT for quick games when we have a few minutes left in speech. Here are some links. Here. Here. Here. Here.

Still looking for something to do with your students this week? Check out my Thanksgiving Therapy Pack. 

 Thanksgiving Therapy Pack

And my Turkey Synonyms Freebie

 Turkey Synonyms Freebie

Have a great Thanksgiving!


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