Hey~ welcome to the Frenzied SLP blog party on Middle School Materials and Motivators! I've worked with middle level learners for 17 years and love this population! From the awkwardness to the crazy drama- these kids want nothing more than to be understood.
Did you know that the middle school student goes through the most physical, emotional, and social development during the tween years? I feel so fortunate to be a part of this impressionable time of my students' lives and want to share with you my top 5 keys to motivate your students!
1. Make connections: Take genuine interest in your students. Get to know their likes, hopes, and dreams. Connect learning to students' interests and make it relevant to their lives. I've helped a student write rap songs (best apraxia progress), aided another student with her lines in the play, taught mnemonic devices to help upper grade students pass hunter's safety courses and driving tests. Students show up ready to learn when you care enough to make connections.
2. Make it okay to fail: I am purposely goofy with my students. I share so many stories of how I messed up, struggled, and failed that my students know it's okay be be themselves in my room. They are not afraid to take risks and understand that perseverance is more important than perfection.
We work on growth mindset (based on the book Mindset). My students know their positive character traits and hear language that helps them to make progress.
3. Incorporate movement: Our students' bones, muscles, and organs are growing at an accelerated rate. Students are awkward with these body changes, and they even have fluctuations in their basal metabolism. This can cause extreme restlessness at times and listlessness at other times. I'm lucky to work at a school that incorporates middle school philosophy. We have advisories, recess, block scheduling, and teach to the whole learner. We know that movement is critical to learning. My students may use brain breaks, dribble a basketball to multi-syllabic words, walk outside to incorporate EET tasks, or simply follow physical directions. You won't believe the difference a 2-minute movement break makes in attitude and focus.
4. Keep it cool: Be aware and respectful of the stigma that goes hand-in-hand with special ed services. Sorry peeps, coming to speech isn't considered cool in middle school. But, you can do some things to make it semi-cool and fun. Check out my most popular blog post for tips on reducing special ed stigma HERE.
5. Be creative: Middle schoolers like to have fun. Motivate your students by incorporating lots of senses. Play games, create projects, listen to music, cook, and bring in new creative materials. I have a lot of materials in my TpT store created specifically for my middle school students. Check out some of my best-sellers below:
I had a real hard time narrowing down my many middle school products so I narrowed it down to my best-sellers.
Topic Text incorporates sparkly smart phones with social pragmatic turn-taking, topic maintenance, and active listening skills. We always run out of time playing this very engaging game. Like most of my products, this one includes social language rubrics for students to self monitor progress and SLPs to chart growth.
Taking Perspective is my all time best seller. It's a meta-cognitive activity which helps students to understand others emotions and identify what someone may be thinking or feeling in a given situation. You will find work sample pages, rubrics, an emotion bank, and many situations for students to analyze. I have many perspective taking activities in my store, including one that specifically targets social media and the impact posts, likes, comments can have on others: Safebook HERE
Here are a couple loves of mine that I ALWAYS pull out for my students and they NEVER get old.
So relax and have fun with your middle schoolers. And remember that you are an important part of their lives during these critical years.
Check out the other link-ups for more tips and product ideas.