Teletherapy Resources: Getting more Bang for your Buck
Making the switch to telepractice often means investing in (or creating) a toolbox of digital resources and activities. I remember that being an overwhelming, time consuming, and expensive process.
You see, my caseload throughout the last 7 years of teletherapy can be summarized as....
Ummm all of the above?
When it comes to age/grade range, goal areas, diagnoses, severity, I’ve pretty much always had it all... simultaneously (which I actually love)! But for those of us with a varied caseload— who has the time to search for (and the money to spend on) resources for each age range, each goal, and all the themes? No SLP ever.
In order to not break the bank, drastically reduce planning time, and make mixed groups actually productive, I’ve had to find and make activities to fill my teletherapy toolbox that I can get a lot of miles out of.
Here‘s what I mean: While a leprechaun-themed Boom Card deck targeting only tier-2 synonyms activity might be really cute, it’s only going to work for three of my students in mid-March. So for me, it’s not worth my time to make it or money to buy it. But for an SLP with a lot of 4th and 5th graders, it might be worth it. There's a lot to consider.
Building a digital toolbox for teletherapy does take time and likely some money. Don’t get me wrong. But I hope the following tips help you to create a collection of versatile, go-to resources for telepractice that will actually help you be more efficient.... with less!
Target multiple goals
Here’s the obvious one. Look for resources that can be used to target more than one goal or goal area. Activities that have both speech and language components, for example. Or articulation activities with built-in targets for all sounds you treat, not just /l/ blends. Language activities for vocabulary and syntax.
The above resource was born out of such necessity. Speech and language targeted seamlessly together 😍 These one page scenes (and this resource for older students) have multiple language and speech goals on every single one of the 20 pages. Done and done ✅
I created this poll question resource to target articulation and social language at the same time. It has word lists for all the frequently mispronounced phonemes, which I can target at the word, phrase, sentence or conversational levels. Same with social language— I can target perspective taking, asking follow up questions, maintaining topic, and so much more.
Side note: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Sometimes, an activity might have been designed to target articulation, but there are many ways you can work on language too. Maybe a resource targets making social inferences, but you can also target verbs by describing the pictures.
Some of the most versatile teletherapy activities don’t have any goals or targets built in to them at all! They’re just interactive digital games or activities... that were not developed to be used in speech therapy. Building games, such as this one on ABCYa, are perfect for nearly all my elementary students. For articulation, we can practice words with the child's target sound. For social language we practice turn-taking, making polite requests, or working as a team. For language, there's prepositions, description, asking and answering questions, and so much more.
I also love to play guessing games with many students. Using this Google Slides person guessing game, I can work on asking questions, various speech sounds (like vocalic /r/ in “your” and “person”), comparing and contrasting, using negation, making inferences, describing, and more! AKA a mixed group jackpot!
Another prime example are these teletherapy scavenger hunts. I can use the objects the students find to target nearly anything. Not only does this activity get some of my most reluctant students talking and facilitate a ton of language, but it is also perfect for groups.
Pairing visuals with open-ended online activities is a simple way to make nearly any activity therapeutic. It gives a lot of freedom when working on strategies for fluency or intelligibility, for example.
By presenting two windows via split screen (visual on one half of the screen, activity on the other) we have a structured way to practice learned strategies throughout an activity. In this example, the student is practicing intelligibility/clear speech strategies while playing a 'Four Colors' game on ToyTheater.
EDITABLE. This is one of my favorite adjectives to describe a teletherapy resource, because it means I can make the resource be so many things. For example, when playing this articulation game in Google Slides™, I can use the pre-made initial /r/ slide, or use the slide with fillable text boxes to add specific words for a student.
Another feature that I prioritize in resources is how well the activity can suit a range of skill levels. Does the resource break down the skill, or is there an easy way for me to do that? Are there choices or visuals available that some students need but that I can hide for others? Many resources have levels of practice that students can progress through, which makes that resource more valuable to me across more sessions.
Beyond that, often I need a resource to start at the very beginning with the student. I need something to teach, even before providing practice of the skill.
Resources that can be used over and over again are #therapygold. They have so much included, that my students and I can work our way through week after week. This National Parks resource includes passages about 6 parks (plus questions for vocabulary, making inferences, and comprehension for each one), so we can do a park or two each session for a month or more.
Other resources can be used over and over again, even though you’re using the same exact page or slide. Many students benefit from the repetition, plus the activity is never the same since the game plays out differently each time! This Articulation Peg Boom Card game is one example.
Okay, I almost didn’t include this one. I’m a big believer in theme-based learning, and sometimes that includes a holiday or seasonal resource, when appropriate. I truly believe in using themes as a schema for functional and relative learning. But it is one factor I consider when choosing and making activities.
How many students can I use this with, and for how long?
When it comes to themes, this is what I ask myself. If one pumpkin-themed resource is going to hit goals for a majority of my kids during October, I'm here for it 🙌 On the other hand, if it's seasonally themed and not going to give me something for a large portion of my caseload, it's probably going to get forgotten about the next year (and every year after that). Ya know what I mean?
So keep these things in mind to avoid that “one and done” problem we’ve all had— Impulse buy it 5 minutes before a session, use it once, forget about its existence, and never use it again. Wah Wah. Instead, grow a 'therapy resources' file full of staples you can navigate to in your sleep, because that’s how much you use them. So in summary....
Obviously not every resource can possibly hit every mark above to be worthy of your hard-earned dollars and time (sometimes you just need the leprechaun synonyms, okay?). But if you start looking at activities through the lens of these considerations, and selecting resource that fulfill multiple of them, you will find you need less, buy less, and use what you do have more than ever before.
For more information on features to look for when making or purchasing teletherapy resources, check out this post!