With high caseloads that only seem to grow but the day, SLPs rely on grouping students to meet goals and required minutes. Articulation groups are one of the most common ways SLPs use to help students with articulation ( and phonological ) disorders. While this may be the most common we need to ask ourselves, is it really the most effective?
Artic groups usually look something like this…
An SLP sits at a table with 3,4, or even 5 students. The SLP provides the student with a word containing their sound and the student says that word ( or phrase, or sentence, etc ) a certain amount of times. Then, the SLP goes to the next student and process repeats.
Sound familiar? Most of the time SLPs try and give the students worksheets or some activity to do that focuses on their sound in someway while they wait for their turn. As for how much practice does everyone get, well, it is probably not as much as the SLP would like to give. Does it mean articulation groups are not effective? No. Does it mean that students don’t get their required minutes? No. It does mean that as groups get bigger, each student gets less direct time working with the SLP.
Artic stations, aka centers, is another method that more and more SLPs are starting adopt. They work like this…
Around the room are different stations that students move to at certain intervals. Each station is supervised by the SLP and has an activity that has the student directly working or focusing on their sound in some way. One station is one on one time with the SLP. This typically is straight sound drills to get the most amount of repetitions in during the allotted time.
So between these two models which do you use?
While articulation groups have been the standard for years, after trying stations/centers I’m never going back! Let me tell you why.
I was starting to feel like I wasn’t really making enough progress with my artic/phono kids. I wanted to give each of my kids more attention but with groups getting bigger it wasn’t possible unless I cloned myself. So I decided to try some stations one day and was amazed! I didn’t feel overwhelmed about giving everyone their time! All of my kids were engaged! No one was sitting slumped in their chair or staring our of the window into the hall! My kids even asked if we could do speech like that again…
When it comes to articulation therapy, research suggests that short, intense durations of direct treatment spread out over a time are more effective than one lengthy session each month. This is why I use the 5 Minute Kid model for my one on one therapy. You can read the research on their method in this article. I have used this model for years and really like it.
There are several stations that I rotate between so that the kids don’t get bored.
- Book Search – I have about 3-4 different books ( with pictures ) that the kids can look through and they find words that have their sound or draw pictures they find that have their sound.
- Movement – Kids sit way too long during their day at school. This station has some images of different stretches or small movement activities, like arm circles, that kids can do. It really helps if my wiggly kids do this station before they come to me.
- Card Sort – I have articulation card decks out and say the words quietly to themselves and then sort the cards into easy and hard piles.
- Worksheets – OK, ok, I still use worksheets but the kids are practicing the words and then coloring part of it or doing something the mark off the words they have done. I have found worksheets with dobbers or portions to color work best here. I use the pages from my No Prep Articulation packet frequently since there are different activities on one page.
- Listening station – I use some homemade whisper phones, aka, curved PVF piping wrapped in some pretty cool duct tape, to have kids read their word lists to themselves and listen to their productions.
- SLP – Every student comes to work with my one on one for at least 5 minutes. We get down to business here! I check to see if they have done their ‘speech homework’ and then it is straight drill and I don’t feel bad about it one bit! They get the opportunity to do lots of different activities during their time so doing some serious work isn’t a big deal when they get to me.
Those are my stations right now and so far so good. My kids don’t complain and I’m seeing progress. The best thing about using a station model is that you don’t need anything special to start it. This has worked well with my K-5 groups and I don’t see myself going back to traditional groups anytime soon.
Do you do stations?