Common Core Suggestions from One Speechie to Another

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As classroom teachers change their teaching to base objectives around Common Core State Standards, we, as speech-language pathologists, must consider the standards as well. It affects us in our identification of language disorders, goal writing, and session objectives.
It is important to consider the CCSS when identifying students through the Response to Intervention (RTI) process. It is important to collaborate with classroom teachers to understand where the students are struggling and which standards they are unable to achieve. Regardless of the RTI tier or level of support the student in question is receiving, we must  determine strategies to help these students acquire these standards necessary for age and grade.
There are a variety of speech and language difficulties that can affect a student’s ability to acquire the CCSS. Some examples of these include:

  • If they cannot use or respond to questions, it will impact their ability to “Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).”
  • If they have weaknesses in vocabulary, it will impact their ability to “Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.”
  • If they display difficulties comprehending grammatical concepts, it will impact their ability to “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.”

You should consider what standards are expected for the grade of the student in question and where the student is functioning when developing goals.

So how can you incorporate CCSS philosophies during speech and language sessions? First get a handle on what students are expected to know and understand. This will assist with carryover of skills from the speech room into the classroom and beyond. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • You can have students go on scavenger hunts to help them learn to identify text features of nonfiction texts.
  • Have students practice using higher level thinking: predict, question, visualize, analyze, and make connections.
  • Model for students what to do/think before, during, and after reading by using thought bubbles on a Popsicle stick to help illustrate what one should think and say at each of those phases.
  • Use a KWL chart (know, want to know, learned) when teaching new vocabulary/concepts. Use carrier phrases to teach students how to express key story elements:
  1. “The main characters are…”
  2. “The important events are…”
  3. “The author is…”
  4. “One fact I learned is…”
  • Use thinking notes on Post-Its while reading a story to teach students to generate their own questions while reading.
  • Use a variety of genres when incorporating literacy activities (fables, short stories, poems, plays, biographies, articles, etc.).

For the most part, the CCSS correlate with our typical speech and language goals and objectives. One difference is the expectations for students per grade. Another difference is the language students are expected to recognize, comprehend, and use in the classroom. If classroom teachers are expected to use the vocabulary in the classroom, it is important for our students to hear that same vocabulary in the speech room as well. For students with vocabulary weaknesses, they may need extra assistance in learning this vocabulary and terminology. Some important vocabulary words and concepts that we, as Speech-Language Pathologists should incorporate into our sessions and make sure our students understand include:

  • Evidence
  • Central idea
  • Point of view
  • Plot
  • Audience
  • Analyze
  • Dialogue
  • Theme

Whether you are identifying students that could benefit from speech and language services, developing goals, or creating treatment plans,you as an SLP working with school-aged students need to consider the CCSS. It will help advocate how a student will benefit from speech and language services as well as justify for those that are ready to graduate. It also will help make speech and language sessions more academically relevant and easier to promote generalization into the classroom.

“Miss Speechie” is a licensed speech-language pathologist working in a public elementary school in New York State. She is the author of the blog, Speech Time Fun. She enjoys creating and sharing materials, resources, ideas for speech-language pathologists.