This was the word that I would repeat most often as I transitioned students from their classroom to the speech room for small group therapy. Depending on where the students’ classrooms were in the building, this transition could easily be a five-minute process.
Kids, and anyone really, do not want to spend that time in silence. So they talk, twirl in circles, walk backward, and do a myriad of other taboo hallway activities. I needed to find a way to make use of our hallway time as therapy time and keep kids engaged. But how?
When I thought about what makes a lecture great, or a speech phenomenal, one element always seems to be present… stories. Stories keep people listening. They keep kids from wandering off in the halls. They become natural ways to ask and answer questions. They present topics for conversation.
Stories not only keep students close to you in terms of proximity but also in terms of focus. What better way to help kids transition to their specialized services than to engage them in a story?
There are multiple ways to use stories as a transition activity including:
Tell a personal story
Using a quiet voice, tell about an experience including what you did, where you were, how you felt and how it was resolved. Ask students questions about the story and then ask them to retell the events.
Recall a dream
Tell others about a dream that you had. Make sure to point out the odd or absurd things that occurred. Ask students to relate by telling about a dream of their own.
Imagine the future
Create a story based on what you think might happen in the future. Ask students questions about the story and then ask them what would need to happen for this to become reality.
Discuss what you did in your last session
Take time to go over what you did together in your last small group session. Include all of the events, as well as details. Ask students how they felt about different areas and what they learned.
Recount a non-fiction story
Teach your students about history by explaining something that has actually happened. Tell them about a significant historical event and why it is important to learn. Ask questions and then have students retell the story.
Create a fiction story
Fiction stories can be made up as you go or can be learned from books, myths, or fables. Choose a quick story with a beginning, middle, and end. Then have students retell the events and answer questions.
I created Story of the Week because I desperately wanted my students to transition quietly in the hall. I knew that although on some days I had the mental energy to create a story, on very few days could I recall what I had just said for more than a few minutes.
I wanted to have the story in writing so that as soon as we entered speech, we could begin our first task of speech–retelling the story. I could measure sequencing, recalling of information, vocabulary, and grammar all in one task.
To make the transition more enjoyable, I added photos to the stories. Some of these photos were typical photos that you might find in magazines, but others were wild… as were the stories that accompanied them! We could wear these photos on our necks as we walked in the hall as a transition object.
But since not everyone transitions in the hall as a group, I created other ways to use the Story of the Week. There is an option to view the photos only on a tablet or computer. In addition, there is a print-out version for the teacher or for students with good reading skills.
Story of the Week solves multiple problems:
- How to instruct kids while also transitioning them to another room.
- How to begin each speech session with a meaningful activity.
- How to begin each session with data collection.
- How to differentiate one story for different levels of language skills (Story of the Week has three language levels for each story).
- How to keep kids engaged by having new stories frequently.