Middle School Materials and Motivators (linky party)

Oh middle school...working with middle school students is unlike working with any other age range. How do you find materials for the kids? How do you keep the kids motivated? How do you keep the kids from suddenly being too embarrassed to come to speech/language therapy? Those are some tough questions! Luckily, the Frenzied SLPs have you covered with this fun “Middle School Materials and Motivators” linky party! I'm linking up over at Twin Speech's blog
Let me give you a peek into my MIDDLE SCHOOL therapy and how I’ve combated some of these issues. 

How do we find great materials for middle schoolers?
The first thing I want to show you is my newest MIDDLE SCHOOL product! I am so excited to share this with you! I spent well over 40 hours working on this to help my kiddos and we are loving it! Over my years in this field and after talking to tons of teachers about how my students are performing in the classroom, I have become a firm believer that vocabulary is a huge factor in their classroom and comprehension difficulties. Here’s the problem though...I can’t teach my kids every vocabulary word they will ever need to know! Neither can you! But...I can teach them strategies to help them figure out what unknown words mean. One of the main strategies I teach kids is to USE CONTEXT CLUES!!!!! Here’s how we’re working on context clues...
This packet contains important Tier 2 Vocabulary Words for 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade!!! There are almost 200 total Tier 2 Vocabulary words included!!! WOW!
We start by using our context clues to define made up words! I want to know that they really understand how to use the clues and that they aren’t correctly defining the word because they happen to know what it means already. 

I have included Level 1 cards (with multiple choice answers), Level 2A cards (same words and sentences as level 1 without multiple choice options), and Level 2B cards (same words with different sentence context and no multiple choice options).
Level 1
Level 2A
Since I have large groups of kids, I make them each a packet based on their needs. If they need multiple choice answers to assist with defining the Tier 2 word, I give them Level 1 cards. If they don’t need the multiple choice answers and will be able to determine the meaning without extra support they receive Level 2A. I read the sentences to the group and the students are responsible for highlighting the important clues. If we need to use a graphic organizer we pull those out too. After they highlight the clues they either circle the letter they believe to be the correct answer or they write the answer on the card. We go around and talk about whether the answers are correct and or incorrect and discuss the clues used to determine the the meaning. 
If I need to address skills with one student, I let the others work on a “Context Clue Center”. They have a mini dictionary (pages with each word and definition) that they can use to check each others answers while they are completing their packets. 
Level 2B
When we are ready to practice our vocabulary in other contexts, we use the Level 2B cards. The words are the same but the sentences are different. 

Once my kiddos understand how to use context clues, I start to see more progress in the classroom. They start trying to figure out what the unknown words mean which leads to better comprehension of the material being presented to them. 

How do we keep middle schoolers motivated?
This year my theme with for the middle schoolers is employment!
We started the year with a conversation. During the conversation we discussed responsibility and taking responsibility for your actions. I told them for the rest of the year speech was their job. They would be responsibility for showing up to “work” on time. They would be responsible for completing all of their work in a timely manner. They would be responsible for completing and returning all paperwork or homework. They would be responsible for their actions on the way to and from speech. They would be responsible for their actions in the speech/language sessions. Finally, they would be responsible for learning, doing their best and making progress. We also discussed that I will be responsible for making sure they are provided the information and strategies they need. I will be responsible for planning our work tasks. Since this is now their job they will earn a daily “wage”. Their wage will be dependent on their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. Their “wage” is in actuality me making tally marks. I don’t do the whole treasure box after each session thing, however, they will be allowed to cash in their wages at various times to earn some type of reward. The reward may be school supplies, it may be a special activity, or anything else decide I make up!

That all sounds crazy right?!?! Do you know every single kid shows up to speech on their own every single session!!!! Do you know every single kid works hard and completes all of the tasks I give to them!!! Do you know every single kid returns their paperwork and homework!!! 

To make sure the kiddos (they’re too old to be kiddos right) students didn’t forget when their “appointment” was, I made them “appointment cards” that were discreet but able to be used as a reminder! 

I made a list for all of the teachers telling them the students who receive speech/language services, the day of services and the time of the services. 

I hope this has helped you out in your journey into middle school! Now head back over to the linky party (click here) and grab some other great tips, materials, and motivators from some other amazing SLPs! 

See you soon!


  1. I am a BIG fan of the appointment cards as well! I think at this age they should be gaining a bit of independence yet that also means a bit of responsibility that comes along with it. So as long as it is not a safety issue, I have done the same things, providing an appointment card and having them responsible for actually coming to speech therapy. Also thanks for sharing some really good materials. Looks great!

  2. Great suggestions. I use speech bucks, but now I'm going to make it their wage. Love it!!

  3. Love the whole "work" aspect! GREAT idea!

  4. That's such a crucial skill and that looks like an awesome packet!

  5. Helping middle school students become active participant in the therapeutic process is critical and your idea of positioning speech as their "job" moves them in that direction--love it! Going to check out your vocabulary packet; looks like you put a lot of work into it!

  6. Great ideas-I like the idea of appointment cards for your students and the "wage" idea is a great way to motivate our students. Thanks for linking up!

  7. Love the employment idea, and your packet looks wonderful!
    All Y’all Need

    1. For some reason I can't find a way to make my own comment post so I'm stealing a reply from Laura:)
      Just wanted to say I really liked your ideas in this post! Thank you so much for them!

  8. Appointment cards encourage the students to participate actively and I love the whole idea behind it. Keep up the good work and do share more interesting ideas with us.