If you’re anything like me, then your students cannot be pulled for speech therapy sessions during reading and math blocks, leaving them to continuously miss science (or other important) lessons. When this began to be a recurring theme in my school system, I decided to take action and support my students in science! By creating a variety of STEM activities that I could teaching during our therapy sessions, I was able to help my students meet their communication goals alongside making academic growth in the area of science.
HOLISTIC LEARNING APPROACH FOR SPEECH THERAPY
STEM education being taught during speech therapy contributes to a more holisitic learning strategy. Students will enhance communication skills and vocabulary, as well as highlight educational challenges when it comes to science. The 15 STEM Challenges resource was developed by me, a speech language pathologist, and was designed to be taught in speech therapy sessions. By combining science and communication skills, we are able to give our students real-world examples of how they will use their learning.
WHY USE THIS RESOURCE?
When I created these 15 STEM Activities, I had a few goals in mind. The first was to get my students to accurately sequence events. Scientific experiments provide the perfect sequencing opportunities because the nature of the scientific process is very systematic (step 1, step 2, and so on…). This gives students a variety of opportunities to use transition, sequencing, and descriptive words paired with hands-on engaging activities – your students are sure LOVE this!
The second goal I had in creating these activities was to answer “wh” questions. Who? What? When? Where? Why? These questions, again, are very prevalent in the scientific process which makes STEM activities an easy route to teach these (usually) difficult WH questions. WH questions foster critical thinking and language skills simultaneously and they challenge students to think through their answers!
My third goal was to increase Science & Math vocabulary. This is a skill that many students (in general education, EL, and SPED) tend to struggle with. So, using STEM activities with your whole class will not only support your speech students, but the rest of the class population as well. A solid foundation of Science and Math vocabulary, gives your student(s) a base of knowledge that can be developed throughout their learning career and into adulthood.
My next goal was to provide a variety of functional vocabulary to my students. Functional vocabulary are words that are important in everyday life. They tend to be less academic specific, however, are needed to describe academic processes and systems. Some of the functional vocabulary words addressed in this resource are preppsitions, articles, conjuctions, forms indicating number, gender, or tense, and pronouns. These functional vocabulary words are used chiefly to express grammatical functions correctly.
The final goal that I aimed to address in this resource is that students will be able to describe events both orally and in writing. In speech therapy sessions, we often have students describe events using a variety of descriptive language. While these are usually done orally, it is important to get your students writing to describe events. If you think about standardize testing and what students are asked to do when it comes to science tasks, they are often asked to describe their learning process, making both oral and written communication an important skill when working through STEM activities.
The strategies included in the creation of these STEM activities were carefully considered. Integrating STEM education into speech therapy sessions is a powerful way to create a more holistic learning environment for students and by combining the teaching of communication skills with science exploration, we not only help students meet their language goals but also foster academic growth in the subject of science. 15 STEM Challenges was developed by a speech language pathologist for speech therapists, and offers a range of activities specifically designed for speech therapy sessions. This integration of science and communication skills provides real-world lesson for students to apply their learning.
Incorporating STEM challenges into speech therapy sessions is a win-win situation, benefitting students’ language development and their scientific knowledge. By nurturing effective communication alongside scientific exploration, we equip students with the necessary skills for academic success and lifelong learning.