3 Ways to Incorporate Literacy Into Treatment

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To address literacy skills or to not address literacy skills? That is often the question facing the public school speech-language pathologist. And before you start secretly thinking angry thoughts about me and my caseload, I’ll stop and agree with you right here: No, we cannot add another job to our workload. With the education changes we have seen in the last few years, we need to work smarter, not harder. We can, however, incorporate literacy into the language, articulation, fluency and voice treatment sessions we already do.

These three techniques work for me:

  1. CVC/Words with blends. Write consonant-vowel-consonant words or words containing consonant blends on paint cards. Students tap each sound and blend them together to read the word. Associating letters with sounds and blending them is great practice for our students having articulation and phonological disorders. For a little simultaneous language practice, ask the student what the word means after she reads it. If a student doesn’t understand what he’s reading, he’s not really reading, no matter what his fluency score might look like.Often, I’ll ask my students to blend and read words such as “dog,” “cat,” “big,” “hat” and then ask them what it is. If they don’t know, they didn’t truly read the word. When we do it again, I can see the exact moment the light comes on and they read the word. It usually goes something like this: “Oh yeah, that’s something that says bark!” or “At home, my dog’s name is Buddy!”
  1. Use Reader’s Theatre in your articulation, voice and fluency groups. This research-based intervention doesn’t only increase reading fluency, it also promotes intonation, prosody, comprehension and overall reading enjoyment. Print pages of plays and ask your articulation students to highlight sounds they’re covering before they practice. My guess is that you’ll target various goals in one session and the students will enjoy doing it!
  2. No reading materials? No problem! Use materials from the regular classroom. Have students bring books that they’re reading in class to your sessions. It’s often eye-opening to see what our students do in class. Recently, a group of my students brought the book “Tuck Everlasting.” I made copies for my articulation students to highlight their target sounds and read to the rest of us. My language students then retold the story and discussed the book.

The thought of incorporating literacy into our sessions might overwhelm us. It doesn’t need to, however, if we connect literacy to what we already do during treatment.

 

Nicole Allison, MA, CCC-SLP, serves as media chair on the Ohio School Speech Pathology Educational Audiology Coalition and blogs at Allison’s Speech Peeps. She also creates materials to benefit school SLPs, especially on data collection and the Common Core State Standards. nrallison@gmail.com

Three Easy Ways to Collaborate with Teachers

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Like many of you, as a school speech-language pathologist, I left graduate school ready and excited to jump into classrooms. I realized the benefits of reaching my students in their own environment and so I set out to reach them there by “educating” teachers on speech and language. And then… reality hit. With all the added responsibilities, how do I go about adding one more task to my ever-growing list and collaborate with teachers?

Are you like me? Often, school SLPs feel lost when it comes to reaching their students in the classroom. Typically, we fall into one of two camps. Either we feel the need to completely take over the classroom lesson to “teach” the teacher something about language or we become too afraid of looking like a “know-it-all” and so do not offer any suggestions. Neither of these offers a solution. Here are three easy ways to collaborate with teachers that provide a balance between the two:

1. Provide a monthly newsletter. This is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with teachers. If you have monthly themes, give them an idea of what you’re working on. Provide a “vocabulary word of the month,” a tip on how to serve students in their classrooms, a good resource or website, or even a practice sheet stapled to your newsletter for teachers to provide to students. Teachers will appreciate the time you took to reach out to them and will also gain information on both their students and how we service them.

2. Give a student snapshot to your teachers. This is most beneficial at the start of the school year. Unfortunately, with all of our responsibilities, important information is often not communicated and students’ services often suffer as a result. Relay any accommodations on students’ Individual Education Program (IEP) that the teacher is responsible for providing in the classroom and make sure they understand what each one means. It is also helpful to provide an overview of the goals you are working on with their students. For example, a simple statement such as “During Johnny’s speech and language session, he is working on increasing his vocabulary and reading comprehension,” would give the teacher an idea of what he works on with you.

3. Hop into the classroom during independent reading. Many classrooms now schedule a chunk of time devoted to practicing independent reading and writing skills. My district uses a structure for this called “The Daily 5” created by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. When I walk into a classroom during Daily 5, I can immediately sit with students and listen to reading, ask questions about what they are reading, teach vocabulary and assess and monitor articulation skills while reading. What does this type of intervention mean for us as SLPs? We can easily monitor and work on skills within the classroom setting all while requiring minimal if any planning time. This type of intervention also sets the tone for easily working with the teacher on their turf without taking over the entire classroom.

I hope this next school year finds you rested and ready to try new ideas. Reaching out to teachers often feels like one more to-do, and can fall to the bottom of our priorities. By making a goal each year of trying just one new idea, it can seem less overwhelming. I guarantee it: by reaching out to our students in their environment, we will be making a huge impact on their lives.

Nicole Allison, MA, CCC-SLP, has a passion for creating materials that benefit the school SLP, especially when it comes to data collection and the Common Core State Standards. She currently works in a public school as the only SLP (yes, that’s right, all 13 grades and loving them) and is the author of the blog Allison’s Speech Peeps (speechpeeps.com). She also serves on The Ohio School Speech Pathology Educational Audiology Coalition as secretary. Her and her husband recently had a baby and are loving parenthood. She can be reached at nrallison@gmail.com.