College + Career Readiness Problem Solving

College and Career Readiness.

My juniors and seniors literally groan when they hear those words. It’s become a bit of a buzz word in the last few years as standards-based learning really took off and started taking over all aspects of education, including how we conduct therapy as school-based SLPs. But, as much as they (and we!) might groan, getting our students ready for their futures, be it college or straight into careers, is our ultimate goal. If they can’t function in the “real world,” we’ve achieved very little!

Last year, when I started working with high school students with Autism who were planning to either enter the work force or go to college, I knew I needed to think specifically about how to work in social skills at a higher level. Most of my high school products were geared towards problems and situations student might face in high school (understandably!) Stimuli in workbooks for adults were somewhat appropriate, but a little dry and geared more towards restoration of skills rather than first time learning. So, I began developing a curriculum specifically targeting the types of problems I knew my students might face after graduation. Now, I’m happy to have my College and Career Problems for Speech Therapy unit up in the store!

This unit consists of 27 (and likely growing) scenarios targeting functional problem solving in either the work place or in college. As students work through these scenarios, they will work on professional relationships, responsibility, asking for help, prioritizing, peer relationships, and more!

The 27 scenarios center around 9 individuals. Each individual experiences 3 different problems to solve. In order to solve the problems, students have the opportunity to work through a graphic organizer that provides a framework for solving problems. The graphic organizer provides the following prompts:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What 3 details helped you determine the problem?
  3. What are 3 possible solutions to the problem?
  4. What are the pros and cons for each potential solution?
  5. What is the best solution?
  6. Why did you choose that solution?

My students and I have been working through these scenarios over the course of this school year. For students who tend to be impulsive in their decision making, using the step-by-step graphic organizer has forced them to slow down and think through multiple angles of the problem, as well as look for and provide evidence for both problems and solutions. The scenarios themselves have also provided stimulus for further discussions about career goals, job opportunities, and social functioning outside of the high school setting.

I hope these scenarios might prove helpful for you if you work with students preparing for life after high school! You can check them out here!

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