How to Make the 3:1 Model Work in Speech Therapy


About 2 years ago, my school district decided to adopt the 3:1 model of speech therapy. We adopted it slowly, with some pilot schools testing it out first. Now all therapy staff, OT, PT, and SLP, are using the 3:1 model. For those of you unfamiliar with this model, this is basically how it works: students receive 3 weeks of traditional direct services and 1 week of indirect services each month.

When I first heard about changing to this type of service delivery model, my first thoughts went something like this - "Are you crazy? A whole week with no direct therapy services? Parents will throw fits! Kids won't make progress! Who came up with this idea?!" And now, 2 and a half years later... I'm loving it! I am a fully-converted 3:1 model supporter. Here's why I like it:

  • Let's be real: Our caseloads are not getting any smaller! My week is jam packed with sessions all day long! These direct services are important (obviously), but there are also other types of "services" we provide for our students outside of of their direct therapy time, including observations, progress monitoring, consulting with teachers, programing devices, making visual aids for classroom use, and training para's and even parents! These indirect services are important for making sure our students are successful across environments, not just for 30 minutes at a time in the speech room. Having a designated period of time each month to accomplish these tasks makes it easier to get them done!
  • I get to be in the classroom:  Sometimes I am so busy, I just have no idea what is going on with my kids outside my door. Now, during my "week 4" (my indirect service week), I get to see what is going on in my kids' worlds. It can be very eye opening! Sometimes I think a student has nearly mastered a goal and when I go into the classroom, I see the student is not carrying over the skill at all! This lets me know we need to work more on that skill and on carryover. Sometimes it is the opposite! I can confirm that a student is indeed carrying over a skill and he or she has mastered that goal. For my students working on pragmatic skills, I love observing the real problems they are facing in class with their peers. I use the situations I observe during my week 4 as opportunities for discussion and analyzing during direct services for the next 3 weeks. I find it much more meaningful and effective than giving the student only hypothetical situations.
  • My teachers know I am available this week: SLPs are full of knowledge and strategies to help all students, not just the kids on our caseload. My teachers can sign up for a time to come consult with me about any concerns they are having with a student (IEP or not!) or even how to teach language related strategies to their classes, such as phonemic awareness or comprehension. Having this time to consult allows me to be a better asset to all of the students at my school, not just students with IEPs. 

Implementing the 3:1 model took some time and adjustment for everyone involved. It is not something you can decide you want to do tomorrow and jump right in. Here are some tips for successfully implementing this type of delivery model:

  • Get your administrators behind you: You need your special education administrators on your side to help explain to principals, other special educators, teachers, and parents why a change in service delivery is happening. Change can be scary! But if you have both therapy staff and administrators on the same page, it makes the change must easier. I suggest going to your special education administrators first, with plenty of documentation to back up why you might think this service delivery model could be a good change, including a history of caseload numbers for your district, typical speech therapy schedules that show a lack of time to accomplish indirect services, and support from ASHA (there are various presentations and articles about the 3:1 model if you search ASHA's website.)
  • Take a full year to roll-out the model: It would get a little crazy if you tried to hold every student's IEP meeting at once to change their services. Instead, switch over to the new model at students' regular IEP meetings. Make sure to document this change appropriately in the IEP! My district uses minutes per month instead of sessions per week and also puts a statement in the LRE specifically stating the child will participate in the 3:1 model of therapy. 
  • Avoid co-worker jealousy: I can understand why other teachers may think that SLPs just get a "week off" or a week to do paperwork with this model. Make yourself available and visible during this week! If teachers can see how this model also benefits them, they will be much more likely to support it. I send out a calendar that allows teachers to book time with me to either consult about students, strategies to teach their class, or co-teaching lessons! Check out to make your own calendar! It even connects to your google calendar to show when you are busy or available! 

Has your district tried the 3:1 model? Share your comments or questions below! I would love to hear from you!



Quick and Easy Meals for the Frenzied SLP {Linky}


I am linking up with the Frenzied SLPs to share a quick and easy recipe for those busy weeknights. While the past few days I have had all the time in the world to cook, bake, nap, and maybe even do a few progress notes thanks to Snowzilla Jonas, this is not normally the case! My man is going back to school and taking night classes, so most days I try to get back home after work to get some food on the table in warp speed. And frankly, if you are like me, it's just too exhausting to make anything uber domestic after a busy day at work.

In my household, we are vegetarian - except we do eat fish.. so if you want to be precise that makes us pescatarians. Anyway, this is one of my family's favorite weeknight meals - Roasted Vegetables Over Polenta. It is super easy, super delicious, and takes 20 minutes start to finish.

Here is what you will need:
-Whatever veggies you like... seriously! Just grab what is looking good at the grocery store or this is a great way to use up leftover veggies. In this picture, I used butternut squash, brussel sprouts, red onion, and mushrooms. I also often use chickpeas! 
-1 cup of Polenta: I prefer the Bob's Red Mill brand, but I have also seen instant polenta at the store.
-1.5 cups of milk
-1.5 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
-1 tbs butter
-salt, pepper
-olive oil
-optional: feta cheese for topping

Here is what you do:
1) Preheat oven to 375
2) Spread your chosen veggies out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and top with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning you like. If I season beyond salt and pepper, I usually use Herbs de Provence of curry powder, depending on my veggies. Place your baking sheet in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until your veggies are cooked through.
3) While your vegetables are cooking, bring your milk and stock to a boil in a medium sized pot. Once it has reached a boil, add your polenta and stir frequently. Let the polenta absorb all of the liquid until cooked through and soft (about 5 minutes). You may need to add more liquid depending on the consistency you like you polenta. Add 1 tbs of butter, salt (salt well), and pepper to polenta.
4) Assembly time: Add polenta to your plates/bowls and top with the roasted veggies. I like to add feta cheese for topping as well. 

I hope you enjoy this dish! It is perfect for a chilly day and great for a fast but filling weeknight meal. Do you have a recipe you would like to share? Comment below! Be sure to check out more Frenzied SLP recipes here!



My 3 Favorite Organization Tips for SLPs {Linky}


Happy New Year! As we roll into 2016, I am linking up with the Frenzied SLPs  to share some organization tips. I feel that most SLPs have some sort of genetic mutation that makes them a little more inclined than the average human to be slightly OCD. I remember in high school, one of my teachers informing me that my binders and labels on my things were just too organized and that when I went into the "real world" that would not be necessary - nobody else labeled things. Then I went to college and found "my people". The other (future) SLPs all had binders and labels too!

1) Start fresh. What keeps me most organized is making sure my desk and therapy table are organized at the end of the day. That way I can start fresh when I come in. It makes me feel at peace. If I walk into clutter first thing, somehow I already feel more stressed. 

Do you see how clean that desk is? Doesn't it make you feel some sort of zen? This is how my day starts. By the end of the day, my desk always mysteriously converts into a paperwork fortress that some may mistake as a portal to the Bermuda Triangle.  I promise you that the 5 or 10 minutes to put those papers away and wipe down your desk before you go out the door is worth it. 

2) Go paperless. As much as I can, I try to use Google calendar for keeping track of my seemingly endless meetings. My special ed department has a google calendar dedicated to meetings so we can easily see when meetings are and who is attending. We use bright green for all things special ed so we can easily spot them on the calendar! I am also starting to use google forms to help eliminate some IEP paperwork. Check out my post on that here!

3) Prioritize your inbox. If your school e-mail is anything like mine, you get approximately 924 emails a day. If you use g-mail, did you know you can filter your inbox to send emails to certain folders and you can even color code emails? For example, I have all emails from my medicaid coordinator coded as yellow and they automatically get send to my "medicaid" file in my email. This helps me prioritize what e-mails I need to read now (e.g. my principal) and what e-mails I can save for later (e.g. the new swim coach position at a middle school across the county).

How are you keeping organized? I'd love to hear your ideas. Interested in learning some more tips to keep you organized this year? Head on over to check out these lovely ladies' ideas!