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3 Ways to Incorporate Literacy Into Treatment

by Nicole Allison
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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

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Lisa August 11, 2015 - 8:22 pm

Great ideas Nicole! I also do push-in language groups in classrooms during literacy time, or push-in and work 1:1 with student during literacy. This allows for some great collaboration with the classroom teachers as well.

Santha Varghese August 12, 2015 - 12:40 pm

Excellent article! Reading & blending CVC words has always been a go to exercise for me. Those lightbulb moments are precious. Thx

diana August 19, 2015 - 3:06 pm

I love the paint cards for blending!

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