This is part of a continuing series of posts on therapy ideas to support assistants (SLPAs) and paraprofessionals in the schools in their work with students and their supervising SLPs.

For adolescents exploring conceptual vocabulary – holiday-themed or academic – consider using what calls Four-Fold Concept Development. This activity is a strategy to build depth of understanding and build connections that will help student use and remember new concepts. It can be completed on a worksheet, poster, or whiteboard, depending on the size of your group, but always consists of the following 4 sequenced steps. Let’s look at an example for the word stress:

  • LIST – brainstorm a bunch (15–20?) of synonyms
    • pressure, tension, anxiety, worry, trouble, emphasis, accent, weight, importance, could be a verb?, strain
  • RANK – choose the best 3 words to clarify the word “stress”
    • worry, pressure, anxiety
  • COMPARE – create an analogy: “(target word) is like (more concrete word) because both…”
    • Stress is like pressure because both feel like something is pressing down on you, both feel unpleasant, like something you want to get away from, but you’re always thinking about, both feel like you’re being squashed.
  • ILLUSTRATE – draw a visual representation of the analogy
    • (picture of a student being crushed by all her homework, and the calendar with all the dates of coming exams)

Can you imagine using this with vocabulary concepts like “politics”, “plagiarism”, or “polygram”?

SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.