Teletherapy Resources: What Features Should You Look For?
Maybe the thought of creating customized resources to use with your teletherapy caseload gives you all the creative feels.
Orrrr maybe that thought makes your cringe, shudder, and run for the hills of Teachers Pay Teachers because, well..... you don’t have the time and/or tech capabilities for that kind of wheel reinvention nonsense. Either way, it’s very helpful to know what features to look for when expanding your teletherapy toolbox.
Let me preface this post by saying this-- during my first few years as a teletherapist, I only used static PDFs in teletherapy. Literally that was it. If Boom Cards existed back then, I was still years away from learning about them. I had never heard of an "interactive PDF" and I certainly didn't know about Google Slides activities. BUT I truly believe that I was still doing effective therapy.
What I am trying to say is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a resource in telepractice that you already have, even if it has zero of the qualities listed below. In fact, I have written blog posts about adapting PDF materials in this way. And while I still use resources that don’t fit into that perfect digital resource mold (I'm looking at you, black and white, destined-to-be-printed, PDFs), there is just sooo much more out there now.
If you want to take things to the next level, this post is for you. Step with me into the wonderful world of digital speech therapy resources. I have discovered some key characteristics that make resources more suitable for teletherapy than others.
First of all, landscape orientation, which basically means the pages are wider than they are tall, rather than the reverse. Most, if not all, teletherapy platforms have some sort of a shared space for you to open or screen share documents. In most cases, that space is horizontal. Therefore, to fill that space most efficiently, a landscape format works best.
This is a difference from the classic "worksheet", since most documents are meant to be printed in portrait orientation. Same for iPads and interactive whiteboards.... landscape orientation all the way!
Speaking of page formatting, pay attention to the amount of content on a single page/slide. Too many questions or prompts will likely result in small text and likely confusion for the student about where you are currently working on the page. It's often best to have a single prompt or question per page, card, or slide. No need to worry about wasting that beloved printer paper, so might as well make those pictures and text large and in charge!
Like I mentioned, another difference between printables and digitables (yep, new term that I just made up- heard it here first!) is the freedom to use colorful photos and graphics! Since buying (and buying again....again) expensive ink is so last year, you might as well bring on the color photos and clip art!
Of course, you still need to be mindful of text readability, especially for students with vision or attention issues. Additionally, using a colorful image on top of a colorful background may make the page appear overwhelming and busy. So don't go crazy with color, but incorporating colorful images within reason is a great way to increase student interest and engagement and give the material dimension.
The last aspect to consider when choosing resources to make or use in teletherapy is the type of digital interaction. And this, my fellow Tele-SLP, is where digital resources really shine. Activities that require folding, cutting, or gluing are not going to be where it’s at.... obviously. So what do you want to look for? Activities that incorporate digital interactions such as annotation, dragging and dropping, typing, or clickable buttons.
And because I cannot resist a clear and concise comparison graphic to sum it all up:
There we have it! Next time you find yourself in need of a new teletherapy activity (AKA frantically searching the bottomless pit of activities on Teachers Pay Teachers for JUST the right thing), keep these considerations in mind. Even if you're making some resources yourself, make sure you're not wasting valuable time on activities that aren't platform-friendly, don't engage your students, or lack virtual interaction capability.
For even more information on selecting digital resources for teletherapy, click over to this blog post!