With the big shift to virtual learning this year, I wanted to show you some tips and tricks to help take those strategies and resources you already have and show you how to use them virtually. Try to envision there being a screen between you and your students in the therapy room. Almost anything that you could do with them in person, you can do virtually!
Using Tangible Items
One simple thing you can do – and please don’t be afraid to do this – just hold up a book! You can read to your students virtually just like you would in person. Don’t be afraid to take what you have in your possession around you and hold it up to the screen and use it for a virtual session. I use books all the time in sessions, so when reading virtually, I like to hold the book up for the student to see and then hold the book even closer to the camera after I read each page for a zoomed-in view. I love using books in therapy because you can work on so many goals such as question and answers, summarizing, vocab, describing, compare and contrast and predicting. The sky really is the limit when it comes to using books in therapy!
This is another way to incorporate books into your therapy virtually or in person. Storyline Online has tons of online books that are read by celebrities. I love this website because the celebrities are animated and fun and it gives the students someone else to listen to rather than just hearing your voice all the time. Storyline has a great range of books and you can search for just about anything from seasonal books to specific topics.
There are so many ways to use this site with your students. If you are doing a virtual session, you can share your screen with the student. When using this site, don’t be afraid to stop and go. I like to pause the story and ask my students questions as we go so I can check for recall and understanding. It’s also great for using context clues and working on vocabulary!
After reading, you can still play games with the story or do activities you would normally do like have the students act it out in their own words.
This is my go-to resource for older students! I love this website because it is student-friendly and the articles are all high interest and relevant to the times! All you need is a free login and you can access the materials and present your screen. One of my favorite things about this site is that you can change the lexile. I usually lean towards using the easier lexiles because my students are avoidant or struggling readers who are embarrassed by their reading. When working with students in therapy sessions, I am not working on decoding. I am normally working on things like comprehension so I like to pick a lexile that is at their independent reading level. There are so many things that you can do with this site so that you can make it fun, motivating and engaging while incorporating those strategies you would have been using in your speech room.
When using online resources and sharing your screen, you can still incorporate all the strategies you would normally use. You just might have to think outside the box a little bit. One of my all-time favorite tools for virtual learning is Kami. Kami is an annotating tool that is a free chrome extension. When you click on Kami in your toolbar it will give you the option to use a dry erase tool or you can upload a PDF and write on it. I love to pull up a strategy PDF and pair it with things like Storyline Online.
One of the questions I get asked often is how can students do this? You can do it for the students. Just have them tell you what to write. When doing it this way it becomes a learning experience where you can talk things out and do activities like modelling how to think about your thinking. This is an added bonus of doing this activity online!
Want to learn more? Check out the video and the resources I mentioned for engaging, no prep activities to use with your students this week!