By Karin H. Koukeyan, CCC-SLP
Are you looking for ways to improve your students’ engagement in preparation for fall? Start planning your sessions now to ensure a smooth start to the school year, and think about ways to meet students where they are, as digital natives, by incorporating 21st century techniques into your lesson plans. Clinical Quality Manager, Karin Koukeyan, CCC-SLP, answered a few common questions on the subject of technology & therapy:
Q: What advice can you give therapists who are looking to prepare for fall and want new resources to engage students?
A: Remember to always focus on your students’ unique needs. Service delivery via telepractice should not limit your ability to work with students of all ages and choosing age-appropriate materials should always be a priority. Similar to onsite therapy, games can enrich the therapy experience and make drills more motivating. There are many interactive websites that provide free online games that can be played with students through platforms which allow screen sharing.
Q: How can you incorporate 21st century learning techniques into your therapy (even if you don’t work online)?
A: When one thinks of 21st century learning techniques, the use of technology always comes to mind. Having state-of-the-art equipment is not what brings the student into the 21st century rather it’s the creative use of the tools while incorporating learning strategies that ultimately sets up the students for the most success. For example, tablets can be incorporated into therapy sessions both for the use of apps and games which reinforce therapy goals as well as being used as a primary tool for in-classroom observations and teaching.
Q: What aspects of this 21st century learning do students enjoy the most?
A: This is the age of the digital native and students love to engage their learning on a screen. The fast-paced nature of technology makes it highly rewarding for students when they interact with these tools. Using these technological rewards may in turn improve learner outcomes as students’ correct productions are reinforced.
Q: What activities can you recommend for the elementary students versus secondary level students?
A: For any age group, you want to make sure that the content you are using is curriculum-based. Content that tends to be highly motivating for elementary students include materials with which students can interact directly. Use of documents and worksheets along with a whiteboard tool where students can interact with content are ideal. When planning for sessions at the elementary or secondary school level, students may benefit from the use of hard-copy worksheets that are printed out for them so that they may physically write on the paper or use scissors to cut the paper. Creative use of multiple cameras including a document camera can offer the opportunity for students to observe the teacher model or use their own materials. Websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers offer a multitude of resources for clinicians that can be shared digitally.