Speech Therapists! That’s a slight exaggeration, but not far from the truth. I have been blessed by the advice and mentoring of many excellent speech and language pathologists. Why has their advice been so crucial? They understand and work at the deepest levels of understanding, helping kids process information. Speech therapists demonstrate how systematic and carefully sequenced instruction transforms language, which is at the core of most academic and social learning.
It was a speech therapist who first shared the TOPS 3 Elementary Tests of Problems Solving with me. This test assesses critical thinking based on students’ language strategies, logic, and experiences. For students with dyslexia and those on the autism spectrum, these language-based skills are sometimes assumed to exist and therefore receive cursory instruction. For this reason, I’ve used the Tasks of Problem Solving workbook by Bowers et al. for social skills and reading comprehension instruction (see related post), as well as for specific skill remediation.
This workbook includes a description of the following skills with useful tasks of increasing difficulty. Many of the lessons include visual cues (or these can be easily created). It is quite simple to adapt any lesson to student interests and needs:
- Identifying problems
- Determining causes
- Negative questions
- Making inferences
- Problem solving
- Justifying opinions
- Generalizing skills
One caveat: Years ago, after observing me in the classroom, a speech therapist strongly advised me to speak more s-l-o-w-l-y. I’m still working on that skill!