How To Be Successful with Mixed Groups in Teletherapy
Mixed groups. We either love them, or we hate them. When I was a brick and mortar therapist, I hated them. In complete transparency, I just couldn't wrap my head around how I was supposed to execute such ridiculousness. Multiple materials, kids having to wait their turns, not enough repetitions for practice....all of it seemed ineffective and chaotic. I had already made up my mind that it would be more work, and my students would not make adequate progress.
Then, I became a teletherapist. I no longer had complete control over how my students were grouped for services, nor my schedule. I was NOT happy.
But, like any other task placed in front of me...I got busy trying to figure it out, and make it work. I've only got ONE screen to share, so I better make good use of it, right?
I quickly realized that I had spent way too long in "the dark ages". Just another mindset shift I had to make after 15+ years doing the same thing, the same way. Telepractice has been such a vehicle to opening my eyes to new possibility, and has sparked a deep creative gene I've harbored inside myself. I've learned that mixed group therapy CAN be very successful. But planning is the key.
Let me share....
There are a few "gold standards" that I love to use when servicing my students with varying goals and skill levels.
If you are in teletherapy and you haven't already learned this...YES, you can use books in therapy. There are online books sites (GetEpic.com) or, you can use a document camera to read books to your students.
2) One-page picture scenes
My favorites come from Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), or from digital photo cards I've purchased for social skills groups that depict situations between people, or events.
3) Reading passages from curriculum
I love to use sites such as Readworks.com or NewsELA.com for their amazing reading passages that are leveled, aligned with curriculum and include questions for comprehension.
Yes, this is great, Andee. But HOW do I use these resources in my mixed groups?
Here's how I do it.
First, I make a list of ALL the goals (in general) for my students in mixed groups. Like this:
(Expressive): Categories, functions, main idea, vocabulary, defining, idioms....
(Receptive:): Answering questions, identifying context clues, following directions...
/r/, "sh", /l/, "th", s-blends, "ch"
Problem solving, making inferences, conversational turns, predicting
You get it.......I won't go on. Make a list of all of your students' goals. Then, choose your material. No matter whether it's a book, picture scene, or leveled reading passage, the process will be the same.
I use a Google Doc, Sheet, or simple piece of paper, and PLAN. I pick out the ways I can target categories and ask questions about main idea. I choose target articulation words, or choose a page where I want my student to describe what she sees using her good sounds. I look deep into the picture and generate prompts where I want my student to look to make an inference or a prediction. I choose target words or phrases for my fluency students to practice using their strategies. I select a picture or character and ask my students with grammar goals to create a sentence using a specific conjunction or verb tense.
And guess what? Don't EVER throw that plan away. You can use this master plan again and again, year after year. Just add more to it, when your students have NEW goals, and different needs.
I created a FREE working Google Sheet that is currently in my TpT Store that I love to use with E-Books. It's set up so you can add a new tab each time you add a new book to your library. I encourage you to take a look at how I've set it up, so you can create something of your own if you'd like! I have something similar for my one-page picture scenes and my favorite reading passages on ReadWorks.com and NewsELA.
I will repeat, planning is the key. It may seem overwhelming at first, but using ONE material to target ALL of your students' goals seamlessly will eventually feel like heaven. You will feel so good that your therapy is effective and your students are making progress.
For additional mixed group resources from my store, click here! I'd love to help you plan your first MIXED GROUP SESSION. Don't forget to "follow" my store for news about sales, new products and discounts!