How to Target Writing in Speech

Boy, do my middle and high school students hate to write!  It’s definitely a challenge to get them working on grammar and sentence structure during speech & language therapy sessions and especially so if I want them to target writing skills.  Yet, it’s absolutely essential we work on writing, because it’s such an important skill for their schooling and usually their weakest area.  Plus, how will they land themselves a nice job out of school if they can’t string a couple of coherent sentences together for cover letters and resumes?

Fortunately, I found some ridiculously easy and highly-motivating activities for working on their writing.

Lesson Plan Idea 1: Get out white boards, dry-erase markers, and white board erasers for the students.  Get yourself a white board, marker, and eraser.  Now write an incorrect sentence on your “therapist” white board.  Target whatever your students need: if it’s pronouns, mess up the pronouns in the sentence.  If it’s subject-verb agreement or tense, make some errors with that.  Tell the students to fix it (in writing! I have to remind them not to yell it out for all to hear).  I look at everyone’s answer when it’s ready and give each student clues if they missed something or otherwise made an error.  Each student reworks it until it’s just right or until I determine I’ve given all the support I can and reveal the repaired sentence.  Sidenote: there is more than one way to fix a sentence obviously, so answers can vary.  Then, just for fun I use a random number generator on my computer to give “points” if they got it right.  They add up their points on the side, and the bonus is they’re also doing some math too :).

Lesson Plan Idea 2: Get the full-version Sentence Master app for iPad.  It’s $11.99 but totally worth it in my opinion.  One of my students stumbled upon it during a lesson with my iPad and was totally engrossed it it, despite generally struggling with academic motivation and motivation with speech goals.  The goal of Sentence Master is to put the scrambled words in the right order to form a coherent, grammatical sentence.  It’s rather like the iPad version of the CELF-5 sentence assembly subtest.  Since I only have 1 teacher iPad and none for students in my low-income school district, I again have students collect their white boards, markers, and erasers for this activity.  This time, the students are working on writing down the correct order of the words on their white boards instead. The rest of the activity is similar to the first: I check each student’s, give clues, show the answer on my board, and give points.  Another bonus of this activity: my students reinforce and attend to capitalization in their writing, since the first word of the sentence is always the one with the capital letter! If students are stuck, I can click for a hint and the next word in the sentence.  So for instance, I might start by giving the first word, then the second word if that clue is needed, etc.  Surprisingly enough, the students loved this activity and loved it even more when it was their turn to put the words in order on the iPad itself.  Teens, they’ll do anything with technology, right?!

Hope this works well with your students! It perhaps might be a good activity after the Thanksgiving holidays!

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