Service delivery and the adolescent: A classroom model

He was first found eligible at age 6 when he struggled with literacy skills in kindergarten – primary significant developmental delay (SDD) in communication and cognition, secondary speech-language impaired. By age 9, he was categorized with specific learning disability along with speech-language impaired, still struggling to read and comprehend or express himself orally and in writing. Off to middle school, still far behind typical peers – language scores barely changing; some dropping. We don’t want him to miss MORE class but he can’t keep up. His foundational language skills are SO weak and he has little to no strategies to apply in class.

What do we do? He’ll never make it through high school!!!

This was the scenario for so many students in our district. We knew we had to try something different.


What about a language class? Taught by the SLP? Everyday?

Strategy-based instruction, intensive therapy, skills to increase performance in ALL classes.

Sounds great…how do I manage that one??

Keep reading for tips on how we got this model started in our large metro school district.

Step 1: identify a small group of interested secondary level SLPs and brainstorm all the pieces of the puzzle, including obstacles

Step 2: outline course objectives, assessment tools, how to sell it to administrators at the district and school level (this was actually easier than one may think – the logic behind it kind of sells itself but research helps-download a reference list here)

Step 3: identify course #’s that allow the SLP to be the teacher of record. This will vary greatly by state and district. In ours, the SLP can only be the teacher of record for elective courses (due to us having a service certificate rather than teacher). So we chose study skills course numbers

Step 4: identify possible students – by far the EASIEST part. The best candidates seem to be those with a primary learning disability or other health impairment (such as ADHD) and secondary language impairment. It is recommended that this list be lengthy because scheduling won’t work for many. Individual SLPs will need to determine their comfort level with class size and whether the class should be year-long, a semester, or even a quarter in some cases.

Step 5: obtain parent and student permission (download a sample here) for those whose schedule worked!! And amend IEPs to accurately reflect the service time/model

Step 6: build and share lesson plans/ideas for course content

Step 7: try to keep going and growing!

This model is NOT for every student OR SLP…

                Some tried it and loved it

                                Others tried it and despised it!

Others tweaked it to make it work for them – such as co-teaching with a study skills teacher daily or weekly

For some, the success varied based on the group of kids!

But students thrived, making more progress than before; showing up to speech, working hard for a grade; appreciating the extra support and carrying over more skills to other classes.

Are they still delayed? Of course! But they are getting more from the SLP expertise without missing any class!

Have you ever attempted a model like this? Share your experiences!

Comment or email us if we sparked an interest and you want more information!



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