Do you have students who struggle with generalization and need a lot of repetition in order to learn & master skills? When we integrate or embed therapy goals into our daily schedule and curriculum, we set students up for better success by targeting the skills & goals where students will actually need to use them. This is a must for students who have a hard time generalizing their skills across settings, people & materials.
What is integrated therapy
The traditional model for school-based related services is to pull out an individual or small group of students who need targeted or intensive instruction (ex: speech or OT). Using this model, the related service provider would take the student(s) to a separate area in the classroom/building for instruction. Then, it’s the student’s responsibility to apply the skills back into the classroom.
The traditional model works well for some students, but students who can’t naturally generalize the skill are missing out on the full benefits of the therapy. With these students, embedded services should be considered.
How to embed therapy into lesson plans
Many times the easiest therapy area to embed is speech. Language & communication are in everything we do across the school day so let’s use that area in our examples.
Start with the standard or general target you’re working on. Next, think of the vocabulary, pre-requisite language skills a student needs to achieve the standard, and possible articulation skills needed. Make a list of what those are and add those skills into your lessons. This could be as visuals, targeted practice, or co-teaching with the speech therapist.
Here’s an example:
- Standard we are working on in science: collecting data & observation
- Language concepts & skills needed to meet the standard:
- Labeling colors, size, shape, number, etc.
- Comparing 2 or more items
- Being able to answer yes or no questions
- Address it in lessons:
- We created a word wall with the vocabulary that included visuals. Both the speech therapist & I worked on the vocabulary & language with students
- We made a book targeting the standard, but broke the questions down to help the students label, comment & categorize.
- We added these skills to other parts of the day, outside of science, to help students generalize both the science & language skills.
collaborate with related service providers
In special ed, related service providers are a huge component of our program. Collaborate with them to help students generalize and progress quicker. The varied practice will help skills become functional. Here are some easy examples of how we tweaked what we were already doing in the classroom after collaborating with the related therapy providers:
- Students sit on beach towels during read to self time: The PT & OT asked us to encourage students to lay on their stomachs while reading. This put students in a prone position where they had to lift up their chest and lean on their elbows to read. Being in this position helps students build core and builds strength & endurance.
- Students practicing ABC order with word cards: The PT asked us to have students sitting tall on their knees or high kneeling while they arrange the word cards in the pocket chart. This position helps students imporve their balance.
- Students practicing vocabulary: The OT asked us to find ways to have the students writing in different positions (at desk, on the chalkboard, on the floor, etc.) so we use write the room activities to practice vocab, scanning the area, visual discrimination and writing. This is such a beneficial activity, we’ve added it to all of our theme units, science units and word family activities.
- Click HERE to read about different ways to address fine motor goals & skills in your classroom.
There are so many ways to help students target many therapy-related skills while working on academics. I highly recommend it for all students!