Updated: Aug 5, 2020
How do you sort through all the SLP websites and blogs to decide which ones reliably provide new information and practical, usable materials?
Selected based on content, design, and value to working therapists, here are my top 6 blogs and websites for school-based SLPs!
I’ve always loved learning…fresh vocabulary, creative concepts, imaginative ideas! So what could be a more appropriate topic for my very first blog post than what I’ve recently learned about “blogs,” in particular those that are published by and for SLPs working in the schools? In preparing to begin my own blog, I’ve explored quite a few lately…over 75, and learned quite a few new terms and techniques in the process: keyword research, pillar content, topic clusters, content marketing, internal link strategies, and CTAS. Among all the great SLP websites and therapy resources out there, I noticed a lot of commonalities and found a few that stand out.
What is a "Blog?"
Blogging is now a well-established form of media for those who are seeking specialist knowledge and expertise that match their needs and interests and, often, reflect their own opinions. Not a new term, the word “blog” is a truncated version of the 90’s term “weblog,” and can be both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it is defined as “a regularly updated website or web page that is written in an informal or conversational style that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer to share thoughts about a particular subject with readers.”
As a verb, it is defined as “to write or have a blog,” “to add new material to or regularly update a blog,” or “the process of writing a blog.” I suggest that it can also be considered an adjective, as in “After reviewing so many websites, I was thoroughly blogged!” I’ll be honest… I’m still a little amazed by how fast technology continues to change and by the massive amounts of information now so readily available to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection.
There are over 1.7 billion websites on the internet today and it’s estimated that over 600 million of them have blogs.
More than 2 billion blog posts were published worldwide in 2018.
Most blog posts fall in the 500-1500-word range with an average of 1236 words, a 53% increase since 2014.
Blogging is dominated by women (78%) with Lifestyle and Parenting as the most popular topics.
Blogging is no longer only the domain of the young with more folks age 35 and over becoming bloggers.
Most bloggers (28%) spent between 5-10 hours per week on their blog and have just one blog that they own and manage.
The average reader only spends 37 seconds reading an article or blog post.
Articles with images get 94% more views as opposed to those with no visuals.
Titles with 6-13 words attract the highest, most consistent amount of traffic.
“Quality of content” is rated the #1 most important success factor among all bloggers.
From useful tips and tricks to readable resources to materials worth purchasing, here are the top 6 from my review of websites and blogs.
Lauren Haines is an SLP from Baton Rouge and since 2012 she has been writing about many timely and practical topics (e.g. “Easy To Clean Ideas for Speech Therapy” and “Five Ways to Help Students from Home”). She offers a subscription for freebies, provides inexpensive items on TeachersPayTeachers (TPT), and is an Amazon affiliate.
Easy enough to navigate, but not terribly unique in terms of design, her website is one of many I reviewed (e.g. CookingUpGoodSpeech, CrazySpeechWorld, TheDabblingSpeechie, SpeechBubbleSLP, SpeechRoomNews, SpeechTimeFun, SublimeSpeech, TeachingTalking) that seems to favor a combination of funky fonts, media links, and materials templates within the same basic layout. Lauren (and these other bloggers) post new information regularly and have 1000s of followers on multiple social media platforms. Most offer diverse and inexpensive materials at TPT, covering multiple categories, grade levels, subject areas, and resource types.
This blog was created by a group of 5 English teachers from different countries who originally met and worked together in Japan; the site is now part of Focal Point EdTech in Portugal. They cover many ESL topics (e.g. “Six Different Types of ESL Learners and How to Teach Them” and “Top 10 Tips for Teaching English to Toddlers”) and provide a wide variety of lesson plans, flashcards, worksheets, songs, readers, and apps for a reasonable annual membership fee. A nice, user-friendly, professionally designed blog that posts new information regularly, has 1000s of subscribers and can be found on multiple social media platforms.
The Illinois Early Intervention (EI) Clearinghouse identifies and collects research-based and best-practice early intervention information that families need to support their children’s growth and development. Multiple professionals contribute on a variety of EI topics and issues, providing tip sheets, resource guides, and an excellent monthly newsletter. The site is professionally designed and managed, and also has a tech loan program, centralized directory of information, and a lending library.
Judith Kuster has been publishing this website since the mid-90s with updates as recent as April 2020. The most up-to-date pages are “Speech-Language Therapy Materials on the Internet,” with its long lists of adaptable therapy materials, as well as the Stuttering Home Page, and information about the author's publications and presentations. Information presented on her sites has always been dense, but each segment is well-organized into a variety of categories. Not the most modern of web designs, but it gets the job done.
David Newman's speech-language resources website provides a gateway to information for understanding language and literacy difficulties in school-age children. It also features low cost and/or free speech and language resources for clinicians and teachers: information pages that explore the meaning of developmental language disorder, picture book activities, detailed explicit interventions for oral and written language, and dozens of tips for correcting speech sound errors. Design is not very modern, but the site is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and it's still regularly updated.
Becky Wanca in Knoxville, TN offers materials that are ready to use and easy to incorporate into therapy. Paid memberships receive unlimited access to materials that cover a wide range of skills, ages, and topics with an emphasis on articulation and language disorders. Neat, well-organized site quickly accessed from easy-to-use drop-down menus or the search engine using keywords, categories, or material types. She has posted new information every month for almost 10 years and has 1000s of followers on multiple social media platforms.
What are Your Favorite SLP Blogs and Websites?
For over 20 years I have enjoyed researching relevant professional topics, products, and programs, and sharing what I learn about them with hardworking school SLPs. As a state consultant maintaining a state-funded website, I never looked for potential content on SLP websites or blogs, feeling it necessary to restrict myself to peer-reviewed and professional publications. I will be as vigilant as ever to the reliability and accuracy of any information I post, but now I can have a little more fun!