How to Work with Mixed Groups in Speech and Language Therapy

The wonderful part of being a speech and language pathologist is that every day brings new adventures!  I am celebrating my 40th year as a speech and language pathologist and throughout my career have often had to work with groups of students that were heterogeneous.

I am a firm believer in the power of peer modeling and look for opportunities to include all my students in a variety of curriculum-based instruction. My caseload is a varied one including students that use augmentative communication, students that have social pragmatic difficulties, students with literacy challenges, students with fine and gross motor impairments. How do I include all students so that I am making accommodations and modifications that will allow them to participate while also challenging them to learn something new?  How do I ensure that I am including their families in this instruction?

I began to create resources that would have a variety of editions that would have the same content but different supports. I have modified as I have gone along as the challenges that some of my students or groups have had.

Each of my poems or stories has

  • A large size edition so that  I can use for the entire group and/or students with visual or motor impairments can use as their copy. Some of my students are working on turning the pages and orienting a book in the correct position.
  • A booklet size edition with the words to the song or poem in it. Some of my students have reading skills as a strength so I have them read the words to the group.
  • A black and white edition that the students can bring home to share the stories.  I recognized that I really couldn’t print off multiple colored editions for the students in the school but I could do so with a black and white version. The students enjoyed bringing these stories home to share.
  • A rebus read edition is one in which the reading words are represented as pictures. Some of my students are beginner readers so being able to go from left to right mimics the process of reading. The words and pictures are presented together. I find such pleasure seeing a child ‘read’ his story.
  • An interactive/adapted edition is one that combines the rebus read with pieces of the story that can be removed and matched. Some of my students are beginner communicators and use pictures as part of their communication system. I also have students whose attention to the task may be fleeting. Having them have something to do for each page helps them focus on what they need to do. This is a great way to teach vocabulary skills.
  • Visuals: I create pictures that correspond with the story and put these on sticks, straws or tongue depressors to allow the students to actively participate during the story. There are times that I might repeat the song or story and have them use the visuals while other times I might have the child use it as their part while I am reading the story especially if they are having difficulty attending.
  • Coloring page:  I create a coloring page that summarizes or represents the song or story. This can also be used as a home school connection or as the writing task for those students who have difficulty.
  • Writing prompt: I like to always have some kind of writing task to complete the story/song unit. I have a writing prompt that matches the theme of what we are working on. It gives me a chance to have a further individual discussion of the theme with the students while also allowing them to challenge themselves in the speech and language process.

This obviously takes a great deal of preparation. I have found however if I make these materials and save them in a folder that I can use them year to year. I also like to then make a small icon to represent the song/story so that I can allow the students sometimes to make the choice of song/poem that they would like to do.

These are the folders that I like to use to store my units.


I find that I can store all the editions in it and then use the colors to organize the different themes. When I take out the envelope I ask the students which edition they would like. This too then shows you the student’s growth as they pick their edition for the day or their attention level. There are sometimes that a beginner reader will opt for the reading booklet. I have also had students make the request for the ‘ones with all the pictures’. The units are in my TPT store. Rakovic Speech and Language Chat Store

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