September 14, 2013

The Many Uses for Pacing Strips

Pacing strips -- a little scrap of paper with a straight line of boxes on it. Most of us know what they are and have probably used them at one point or other in therapy. Most people think of pacing strips as a tool for fluency therapy, but I really like using them to work on other aspects of speech and language, as well, including speaking rate, breathing, MLU, clear enunciation, and improving syntax. I thought I would share some of these ideas.

When I use a pacing strip in a session, the first thing I do is to tape it onto the table in front of the student, to prevent them from playing with it. Sometimes I will tape another strip above theirs so I can use it to model what I want them to do. I have created several designs (they are available in my TpT store here) of varying lengths and color schemes. The last box on the strip has a special design on it, which serves a purpose when working on specific skills.

An example of a pacing strip -- available at my TpT store
To use them, you have students tap out words (or syllables) as they speak, to help them slow down and/or to increase awareness of their expressive output. As a rule of thumb, 1 square = 1 word.

One of my students is using a pacing strip.
I have used pacing strips to work on the following areas:
***SPEAKING RATE***: To encourage students to monitor their speaking rate, have the student tap a square as they say a word.  This will make it difficult for them to "jumble" words together. This is usually the classic use for these strips in order to increase speaking fluency.
***BREATHING***: Teach appropriate breathing by instructing the student to tap out words as they speak and take a breath / inhale when they get the end of the strip (e.g., "Take a breath when you get to the star/happy face").
***MLU***: Expand sentences by encouraging students to get all the way to the target icon! For example, if your target sentence length is 3 words per utterance, use the strip containing 3 icons. Encourage the student to “get to the star/happy face”.
***ENUNCIATION***: I use these strips with my hard to understand kiddos (e.g., Down Syndrome). It helps them slow down their speech which in turn can improve intelligibility.
***SYNTAX***: You can also increase correct sentence structure by modeling correct sentences on a pacing board and having the student imitate.  
Any other ideas? Please leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. I used my laminated pacing strips with a dry erase marker to help a kinder student with very poor sentence structures learn a basic sentence frame using sight words to talk about her center activities/worksheets. For example, when they were doing a science unit on bears, the students were cutting/gluing/labeling pictures, so we wrote "this" "is" "a" on the first 3 boxes, then she'd fill in the last word based on the picture we were adding (fur, den, food, etc.). Or, when she was working on math, we had a blank box, then +, then blank box, then = then blank box... so after she figured out the math problem, she'd say "four plus two equals six", while pointing to the boxes. She has increase her use of articles and auxiliary verbs a lot since we started this technique.