Popsicle sticks: Use in education

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What do you think of when you think of popsicle sticks?  Does it bring up memories of enjoying a summer day with your friends while you ate a cool treat?

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Do you think of the pleasure of splitting a double pop to share with your friend?

Have you thought about using them in education? This low-cost material can be used in a variety of ways.  What brought me to write about this was a lecture I was listening to by Sharyane McLeod on Measuring Intelligibility with Different Languages as part of the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) online conference on “Improving Intelligibility in Children.”  She related that she used popsicle sticks to ask speech and language pathologists how they determine if a child’s speech is developing normally. She used them because she wanted the answers to be succinct.

I began to think how I could use this in my work and thought of some great ideas as well as some that I know are already been used.

  • Students could put the definition of Tier Two words on the sticks and then could use this as a study game. This process would even allow you to help those students that tend to speak around the definition to be concise.
  • In my graduate class, I might use it to determine what was the key idea that the students understood from the lesson that day and then use this as a quick review the next class.
  • General classroom engagement
    • Ask interest questions before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
    • Randomly call on students to gauge understanding during or after a lesson
    • Assign groups or tasks
    • Decide who will receive a special privilege
    • Activities to do when finished work

* If you don’t want to use popsicle sticks here are some ones that use technology to get at similar results.

Random Name Generator or Random Word Definition Generator

Stick Pick:  This app not only allows you to randomly pick a student’s name but it allows you to differentiate questions based on Blooms Taxonomy or ELL skills, tracks formative assessment and allows you to communicate these skills to the parent.

How do you use popsicle sticks in your classroom or in your speech and language therapy?

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