The latest Buzzfeed quiz I completed identified “Spiderman” as the most likely costume to be hiding in my wardrobe. I beg to differ because around my school, I’m The Visual Fairy. I’ve made visuals for the school logo, the adapted Physical Education teacher, classroom teachers, and even visuals for the bathrooms. I’m a school Speech Language Pathologist, which makes me a highly qualified Visual Fairy.
Quick lesson: Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with students with communication disorders, including the areas of articulation (speech sounds), voice, fluency (stuttering), and language. You might think of us as the “speech teacher” but most of our caseload comes to see us for help with the “language” part of our title.
Using visuals is a strategy we employ for many of the students on our caseload. While visuals might be helpful for all children, they are essential to help children with communication disorders learn. When differentiating support for in-classroom lessons, classroom teachers can utilize materials created by SLPs. The following ideas are ways classroom teachers can support a student’s speech and language skills in the classroom.
Vocabulary development is one of the skills SLPs target frequently. We work on developing skills for comparing and contrasting, defining, and describing. In my office, I post Visuals for Vocabulary on the wall. As students work on a skill, they can pull down the poster and use it to support their learning. In the classroom, teachers can provide these supports during center time or independent work time to increase student independence.
When you consider articulation delays, you might assume that’s an area only a trained SLP can address. But that’s not true! A student needs reminders throughout the day in order to generalize correct articulation. Honestly, 30 minutes per week in a speech office isn’t going to fix the problem quickly. The student needs reminders in class and at home to use the new sound. I use my Speech Sound Posters during structured practice on speech sound production. When I practice with my students during reading, I put a smaller copy on the desk as a reminder. You can do this during read-aloud or small group work to encourage generalization.
If you have a student in your classroom who stutters, your SLP will be asking you to support his or her fluency- enhancing behaviors. Teachers can have a huge impact on a student by not rushing the student, not interrupting, and allowing the student to feel he or she has enough to share his or her message. Posting the visuals from Lauren LaCour’s store for Fluency Enhancing Behaviors is a great way to provide reminders.
In a busy classroom, attention and behavior needs can stand out. The ability to sit quietly and remain engaged might be impacting all areas of learning for a student. SLPs often use visual supports that focus on the expected behaviors for students. Classroom teachers can use these supports to non-verbally identify when a student is off-target. Utilizing visuals reduces the need for repeated verbal prompting and therefore reduces the interruptions to the class.
Do you have a Visual Fairy in your school? If so, take advantage of his or her many talents, and develop visual supports for your special needs students.
Jenna Rayburn, MA, CCC-SLP is a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist. She works in Worthington City Schools in central Ohio. Jenna has been creating therapy materials and selling on TpT for five years. You can learn more about Jenna and read her blog posts at Speech Room News.