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!



Service delivery: Determining service time

2 X 30 mpw (1)

Working in a large school district, we read a lot of IEPs and talk with SLPs often about service delivery time and scheduling.

What do we see and hear most often? Students being served in 30-minute increments! 2×30 minutes per week (in the speech room) seems to be the most common choice. Of course, many students have more than 60 minutes per week or have an in-class session thrown in there. Many students in middle and high school may be seen once a week for the length of a period (stay tuned for our next post about an alternative service delivery model for adolescents-link).

But overwhelmingly, students who receive speech-language services for 60 minutes per week are seen in two 30-minute sessions, regardless of the type of communication disorder(s). Sometimes the justification can’t even be expressed – we’ve asked!

We’ve talked about getting out of the speech room (link) and provided some tools (link) for collaborating. But regardless of where you serve, the reason(s) for the amount of time and how it is broken down are just as important – and are determined on an individual basis. There is more than just 30 minutes!

45 minutes one time per week may be sufficient

What about 3×20 minutes/week?

90 minutes broken down into 2×45 instead of 3×30?

4 hours per month instead of 1 hour per week? Because one week may necessitate 90 minutes while another only 30!

There is a lot of talk about quick articulation drill sessions like Speedy Speech or 5 Minute Kids. These are amazing models for students with speech sound disorders.

Frequent and intensive therapy is definitely efficacious for apraxia of speech.

And students with language disorders and/or learning disabilities can absolutely benefit from extra practice with skills and strategies.

Do you have a parent who is anxious about a recommended reduction of service time? Is it the AMOUNT of time or the decrease in weekly consistency they are most worried about?

                3×30 => 2×30 can be a little frightening but…

                                3×30 => 3×20 may soften the blow

Scheduling is a beast involving so many factors but students’ needs are ultimately where it should begin!

We have found a few states with severity rating scales:

Maine, Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia

But they don’t equate to specific service time recommendations – though there may be states or districts out there who have developed their own. However you determine service time recommendations, be sure they are individualized and incorporate team decision-making including the severity of the disorder(s), level of educational impact, and need for specialized instruction from the SLP!

How do you determine service time recommendations for your students?

Planning to co-teach?

In the previous post, we discussed getting out of the speech room and into the classroom. We touched on the various models of co-teaching (descriptions found in this printable) and encouraged school-based SLPs to give it a try!

In this post, we’d like to provide some suggestions on how to PLAN for this service delivery model. So keep reading for some tips and your free printable lesson plan template.

Plannin pic

But first, let’s talk about the benefit of this model for students with AND WITHOUT disabilities…

For students with disabilities, this model can effectively increase participation in class, achievement and test scores, social skills and self-esteem. It can increase teacher expectations and generalization of skills. And of course, it helps reduce the missing of class activities.

For students without disabilities, this model can provide exposure to varied instructional strategies and activities. It can also provide additional help to those at-risk with specific skills. It definitely helps increase tolerance of differences. And it absolutely DOES NOT impede their achievement.

So we know the models (or check out the free printable in our last post for a refresher), we know why it’s a good idea (for some, not all students), we’ve found a teaching partner to take it on with us…now how do we plan for it?

First, pick a time to plan together and decide what you will need to accomplish during this time.

Always have a back-up plan in case meeting face-to-face it is out of the question…because it will happen!

Some suggestions – a daily or weekly face-to-face check in and debriefing; a planning notebook; email; post-it notes; phone calls.

Any other thoughts or systems that have worked for you? Comment below!

During the planning session, SLP and teacher will want discuss the following:

Teacher’s role

  • discuss the curriculum content and objectives for the lesson including topics, concepts, activities, outcomes, and methods of instruction
  • discuss common problems in the content

SLP’s role

  • discuss accommodations/modifications, strategies needed for instruction, materials, and activities
  • discuss the specific IEP objectives to be targeted

Together you want to be sure to discuss the co-teaching approach you plan to use; keeping in mind that more than one may be used in any given lesson. Room arrangement is also very important including where your speech-language students will be for each part of the lesson.

Since student assessment is important to both the teacher and SLP, you will want to be sure to talk about how this will take place for the lesson along with the specific supports needed for any given students.

Based on the lesson you’ve planned, don’t forget to outline the tasks you each will need to accomplish before, during and after the lesson. This includes material preparation, who will teach what, and who will assess what.

We have included a free 2-page lesson plan template that can help guide your planning session.

lesson plan pic p.1

Download it here




What are your go-to resources for planning for your co-teaching lessons?


Service delivery: Thinking outside the box (or therapy room)

Service delivery

Anyone else’s district seem hyper-focused on the least restrictive environment (LRE)? Sometimes it seems it is all we talk about for students receiving special education services. So much so that we move from too many students being served in a small group resource setting to too many being served (inappropriately) in a general education (or co-taught) setting. Come on, no one model is best for everyone. It is an Individualized Education Program/Plan, right?

So what about when it comes to speech-language services? Where are those students being served?

In our experience, we see that MOST are seen in the speech room – you know that closet with no windows. Pulled from reading…or science…or chorus…or art history to work on speech and/or language skills. Hopefully they know what skill(s) they are working on, why they come – hopefully they come! The skills may be embedded in a curricular context but how often is it based on the context of the class they just left? How often do they return to that class having missed out on the instruction entirely? Hmmm…hard to say. Depends on the student, on the goals, on the class, on the day, on the week, on the month…geez give us a break. We have large caseloads, are overloaded with paperwork, and have tons of additional duties and responsibilities!

One size does not fit all but maybe we should better look at each student individually. Where will their needs best be met? It may very well be that the speech room is THAT place! But what about those for whom it is not? What about the students who are better served in their classroom setting (be it a special education, general education, or co-taught environment)?

Being in the classroom is such a rewarding experience. Not only do you, as the SLP, get to see the fast-paced curriculum your students are learning (or struggling to keep up with) but you get to show off your knowledge. Let those teachers see how they can incorporate language, scaffolding, strategies all day long…to build those skills that your students lack even when you’re not there.

Maybe you pick one teacher or one grade level. Maybe you go in once a week or once a month. Maybe you plan a 10-minute mini lesson or maybe you support the instruction that is already occurring. Maybe you do station teaching or parallel teaching, or maybe you and the teacher plan an hour-long lesson to team teach together. After all, it’s not a one size fits all model – for the students or the teacher(s) or SLP(s).

Download your free printable here for descriptions of the various models of co-teaching: 

co-teach printable

Give it a try. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll LOVE it and want to do more. And maybe the students will get much more of what they need.

Co-teaching is only one way to switch up your service delivery. Come back and visit as we expand on the service delivery discussion in our next three posts. We’ll cover planning for co-teaching, determining service time and a different and fun model for adolescents.

Comment below and tell us how you think outside the box for service delivery…