Connecting with the Curriculum

Curriculum Books

For a while there, I had no idea what “IDEA” was and “504″ could have been a building for all I knew. And then there were the word associations; “FERPA” made me think of a Sherpa, “HIPAA” of hippos and an “IEP” of the movie ET. Moving from Australia and launching a speech-language pathology career in the American school system was a completely different field to wrap my head around and I had a dilemma.

I had never worked in a school before.  Apart from the acronyms, numerous vocabulary challenges and having to change my naturally accented schwa to the vowel controlled “r” to be understood, everything fell into place except for one thing: the curriculum. The ASHA website for speech pathologists working in the School Setting gave me much needed direction, so I started looking for speech-language curriculum related materials on the Internet.

Then I looked a little more.

And more again… until I gave up.

I couldn’t understand that with Pinterest, TpT stores and school-based SLP blogs inspiring many of us to don our creative hats, that there was not more school based resources out there. I couldn’t help but think “Pirates are pretty cool…. but where do pirates fit into the curriculum?” Why do speech pathology materials constantly revolving around seasons and holidays such as Valentine’s Day, winter and St Patrick’s Day? We know that our students need repetition after repetition after repetition to cement their learning, so why are we introducing our own themes and topics with new vocabulary if it will not help our student’s succeed with the language and knowledge that they are learning in their classroom?

So I want to set a challenge: Really think about the following ASHA guideline, broken into two parts for clarity:

  1. Individualized programs always relate to the schoolwork.
  2. Therefore, materials for treatment are taken from or are directly related to content from classes.

Are you doing this in your school-based practice? If the answer is “no,” then why not set yourself a challenge to be more curriculum focused? Just think that every year you could recycle and add to your language materials like our teachers do! It may be some work in the beginning but you could set yourself up for years of minimal planning and support language in the curriculum at the same time.

Here are some ideas to get you started on how you can add some more curriculum to your therapy practice:

  1. Ask to borrow your grade level teacher’s curriculum handbooks and get acquainted with their themes.
  2. Get a grasp on the Common Core Standards and investigate what skills your students should have in the areas of speaking and listening, language, writing and reading.
  3. Borrow your student’s grade level books from the librarian or classroom teacher and use them in therapy.
  4. Find the website on which your curriculum is based for online games and glossaries.
  5. Ask the grade level teachers for tips on where to find resources or look up their teacher site on the school website. Many teachers provide a list of related and helpful links for parents, so start searching through there.
  6. Contact your favorite speech pathology blogger and ask them to start making materials that are curriculum related.

So take the challenge! Change your practice and connect with your student’s curriculum.

Rebecca Visintin is an Australian trained speech-language pathologist. She is currently working in elementary and middle schools in Washington state after experience in the Australian outback and as the sole speech-language pathologist in Samoa. She provides information for SLPs working abroad and free therapy resources on her site Adventures in Speech Pathology.

Playing Favorites

Lecture hall

Photo by English106

The first week of classes at Clarion University is pretty much in the books.  A mix of faces…some old, some new…staring at me in class.  The new ones looking somewhat apprehensive.  The old ones more relaxed…they know me, they know the drill, they know what to expect.  It’s a time of possibility as they embark on what I hope will be a semester of authentic learning.

Not only are the first weeks of class some of my most enjoyable for their accompanying sense of newness, but also because I get to deliver some of my favorite presentations.  Perhaps the presentation I enjoy most is based upon von Leden’s “A Cultural History of the Larynx and Voice” which appears in Robert Thayer Sataloff’s tome Professional Voice: The Science and Art of Clinical Care.  Having grown up in the Gettysburg-area, I suppose I come by my love of history naturally (that, plus the fact I’ve had many excellent teachers along the way).  Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Boone’s article “A Historical Perspective of Voice Management: 1940-1970” in the July 2010 issue of SID 3’s Perspectives so much.

It’s somewhat distressing to me when I sense students don’t know the history of their area of study and how it shapes current professional practice…this, then, is the driving force behind for “the von Leden lecture”.  It is von Leden’s premise that the study of the larynx and voice evolved across four stages.  The most recent stage (and the stage in which we currently find ourselves), called the Realistic, had its advent with the Renaissance and marks the time when consideration of the phonatory system became a science, based on experimentation and observation (as opposed to simply being a product of speculation).  To think, some of the information I provide and things I teach are based on da Vinci’s (the 15th-16th centuries) and Eustachius’s (16th century) work in the area of anatomy, Mueller’s studies which led to the Myoelastic-Aerodynamic of vocal fold vibration (1837), and Garcia’s work with a self-invented laryngoscope (1854) to cite just a few examples.  As I share such information with my students, what is old truly becomes what is new.

Let’s face it…we all have our favorite things.  It might seem odd, even nerdish, to some to have a favorite lecture.  But really, when you think about it, my craft, my art, is teaching.  And in this respect I am really no different than a woodworker with his favorite chair, a rock band with its favorite album, or an artist with her favorite sculpture.  (Ok…maybe that is all a little grand, but you get my point…lol.)

If you work in higher education is there a presentation you particularly enjoy giving…why?

If you are a former or current student is there a presentation you particularly enjoyed…why?

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.