Why Do You Teach Categorization in Speech-Language Therapy ?

Many children with language disorders struggle with understanding the skill of categorization. Pediatric speech-language pathologists frequently write objectives for children to improve their ability to name items in categories, name categories when given items in the group, and identify what items do not belong in a category. SLPs select these objectives in therapy often because a child did not demonstrate mastery of this skill on an assessment. 

Do you really think about why this is such an important language concept for your client with communication disorder to master? As speech-language pathologists, we need to be able to readily explain to parents, special education teachers, and administrators, the reason we are targeting categorization in speech-language therapy as well as the skilled therapy techniques we use to improve this area.  

Children need to learn categorization because it is a critical language processing skill. Semantic or vocabulary processing is a large part of how children understand language and effectively retrieve words. After young children learn to label basic nouns and express their functions (e.g. verbs) during their daily routines, they naturally progress to learn word associations. Categorization is typically the next skill in this developmental hierarchy. 

Children need to learn categorization because when they do, it helps them effectively store new words and information in their brain. In doing so, they connect a new vocabulary word or concept to their schema or pattern of knowledge that they already know. For example, when a child learns the subcategory of desserts his or her brain makes an association because he or she already knows that is a type of food. When an older child learns about the water cycle, he or she can make meaning based on previous knowledge about weather, types of precipitation (rain, sleet, snow, etc.), and/or sequence of events. 

Preschool children and children in grades K-2 with language disorders need to learn various categorization tasks with Tier I vocabulary words. They need to practice divergent naming task or expressing items in categories such as food, clothes, transportation, and shapes. They need to practice convergent naming tasks that require them to say the category name when told examples of items in that category. Similarly, they need to be able to distinguish what item does not match the group during an elicited task. 

Children in grades 3-5 can further their development of categorization by practicing divergent and convergent naming tasks with Tier III academic vocabulary. Since many speech-language pathologists support teaching the language underpinnings of the common core state standards, they can teach their students how to categorize English/Language Arts vocabulary. For example, students can sort parts of speech vocabulary, types of nouns, types of literature terms, or figurative language vocabulary into groups. They can name Tier III words when given a category and state the category when given examples in this group. 

So, what materials do you use to take data, instruct children, and provide language practice opportunities for categorization objectives? I have several items in my TPT store to work on these goals. Some of these include:

1) Categories Data Check- 8 forms to quickly assess Tier I vocab
       * If you own my Vocabulary Progress Monitoring Tool, it will be updated with this  
          expanded category data check. Email me if you have questions at tamaraanderson.bsl@gmail.com
2) My Speech Language Category Book- sorting Tier III E/LA 
    vocab
3) E/LA Comprehensive Categorization Bundle- Tier I & III vocab
4) E/LA Vocabulary Memory Concentration Activity

So the next time someone asks you why you teach categorization in speech therapy? You can remind them that you also provide language therapy and then effectively explain your rationale. 

Thanks for reading my blog today! 

Until next time,

Tamara Anderson

English/Language Arts Comprehensive Categorization Bundle

Hey everyone. I am excited to tell you about my first English/Language Arts Comprehensive Categorization Bundle for students in elementary school. It includes 5 activities that are designed for use with students in grades 1-5 and also as a review for students in 6th grade.   I currently use all the activities successfully in my speech language therapy lessons with my students. The activities focus on the important skill of categorization and common core standards language arts vocabulary. 

Students with and without language based learning disabilities or specific language impairment often struggle with receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. They have difficulty identifying/naming academic terms when given the meanings as well as verbally defining the words. There are so many vocabulary words that relate to the various academic content areas and students need a way to practice identifying these terms. In my speech-language therapy sessions, I primarily provide direct instruction in the area of English/Language Arts. Therefore, I created this bundle of my 4 frequently used categorization activities that also relate to the common core standards. 

Why link teaching categorization with English/LA common core standards vocabulary? Students need a way to effectively input and organize curriculum content in their brains so that they can recall it for further use. Teaching and practicing the skill of sorting terms into the correct categories can assist students with successfully inputting information into their short term and eventually long term memory. Research shows that students need direct vocabulary instruction and that the use of categorization is  an effective strategy to assist them in organizing academic content, improving memory and word retrieval, as well as promoting gains in student mastery of the curriculum. Categorization is a great skill that students can use to improve their vocabulary knowledge in math, science, and social studies as well. 

In this packet you will receive: 
1) Quick Reference for Common Core Standards (pages 3-4)
2) Sorting activity for grades 1-2 (pages 5-21)
3) Sorting activity for grades 3-5 (pages 22-46)
*Students sort grade level vocabulary into the correct group with enclosed classification sheets. 
4) E/LA Vocabulary Categorization Cards (pages 47-58)
*Students complete sentences on task cards by expressing the category name. A word bank is provided for 2 levels of task cards (Tier I and Tier II terms)
5) Categorization memory activity grades 3-5 (pages 59-64)
*Students play a matching game to match vocabulary by looking closely at vocabulary category and associated words on each card. Each category is color coded to enhance students’ memory. 
6) Category book grades 3-5 (pages 65-84)
*Students sort E/LA words into categories from provided groups of words. They glue the words in the book after their accuracy is checked by the SLP or teacher. Great activity after whole group instruction. 

The vocabulary categories for grades 1-2 include compound words, homophones, punctuation marks, prepositions, nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives. The vocabulary category categories for grades 3-5 include groups such as synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, types of nouns, parts of speech, types of sentences, parts of a sentence, types of literature, story elements, types of writing, text features, and figurative language. 

Check back later this week, for a visual preview of these E/LA common core categorization activities. This bundle is available in my TPT store:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ELA-Comprehensive-Categorization-Bundle-1111028

Sincerely, 


Tamara Anderson, Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

Why Teach Word Associations?

As speech-language pathologists, we recognize the significance of  providing direct vocabulary instruction for students who have language impairments on a weekly basis. Students need to improve their receptive and expressive vocabulary skills so that they can improve their functional communication, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and overall understanding of their grade level curriculum.
Teaching word associations is essential to students’ vocabulary acquisition and understanding of word relationships.

What are the advantages of teaching word associations?

1) increases receptive and expressive vocabulary skills
2) increases students’ abilities to understand and explain similarities/differences
3) prerequisite skill for students to understand grade level/curriculum level compare and contrast activities
4) prerequisite skill for students to understand word relationships in analogies that requires students to use basic level deductive reasoning skills
5) supports common core English/Language Arts standards
6) reinforces skill of categorization that requires students to sort items into groups, name items according to group, identify/name items that don’t belong in a group
7) increases understanding of age level, grade level, and curriculum vocabulary
8) research supports direct instruction of word associations

Evidence based practice

Research supports the need for direct vocabulary instruction. Marzano (2004) agrees that there is a strong case for the importance and usefulness of direct vocabulary instruction. He states “the research indicates that wide reading probably is not sufficient in itself to ensure that students will develop the necessary vocabulary and consequently the necessary academic background knowledge to do well in school. In contrast, direct vocabulary instruction has an impressive track record of improving students’ background knowledge and the comprehension of academic content.”  

What resources can SLPs and teachers use to address these skills?

Word Associations Baseline and Progress Check Data Forms: Grades 1- 5
Available in my TPT store: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Associations-Baseline-Progress-Check-Data-Forms

This packet includes baseball themed data collection forms for SLPs or teachers to record students’ accuracy of naming word associations. Students play a baseball game by choosing a player and take turns hitting the baseballs by naming 2 associated words for each target word. If they get a question right, they get a mini baseball to put on their baseball field. If they miss the question, they “hit” a foul ball and the SLP gets the ball. If they answer approximately 15-20 questions correctly, they safely make a “run” by making it to home base and collect enough baseballs to fill up the path.

The Packet includes the following pages:
1) Cover page
2) Instructions page
3) Boy and girl baseball players; custom made illustrations for BSL Speech Language
4) Baseball field custom made graphics for BSL Speech Language
5) 2 pages of different size custom made baseball graphics for BSL Speech Language
6) 2 General Associations lists (Grades 1-3)
7) 1 Language Arts Associations List (Grades 3-5)
8) 1 Science Associations List (Grades 3-5)
9) 1 Social Studies Associations List (Grades 3-5)

No Glamour Vocabulary book by Linguisystems, Inc.

Monday Update: 3/4/13
Today in language therapy, I reviewed word associations with 2 of my 3rd grade groups. First, I reviewed the meanings of word associations. Then, I did a mini lesson and guided practice activity. I listed basic words such as dog, apple, and bookbag and had them name associated words as I wrote them on a mini dry erase board. Then, I had them look at our “word wall” of language arts words that had story vocabulary listed (e.g. character, character traits, author, illustrator, narrator, etc.). I asked them: What is the category or topic of  these vocabulary words? My students required prompting to answer, so I asked them exclusionary questions: Are these math vocabulary? Are these science vocabulary? Are these social studies vocabulary? Are these language arts vocabulary? After that, I modeled making a graphic organizer to review the lesson and we used markers to make the vocabulary more visually appealing (plus using markers are more fun!!). Here is the one I created:

Additional Resources to teach word associations:

Help for Word Finding book by Linguisystems, Inc.

Pair Ups Association Cards by Linguisystems, Inc.

I PAD app Word to Word by MochiBits: best used with 4th, 5th, and middle school students

Numerous TPT resources created by SLPs

* For those that love using technology, I suggest saving a selection of frequently used TPT activities in iBooks on your IPAD for easy access in speech-language therapy sessions. I recently started doing this and it is a great addition and time saver!! 

*I suggest purchasing/adding Pocket Game Super Pack by Danielle Reed in iBook. The activity has activities to address word associations via analogies that target action/object, characteristics, location, and part/whole analogies

* I suggest purchasing/adding Rachel Lynette’s tasks cards for analogies in iBook and printing/laminating to create a file folder activity


What educational resources do you use to teach word associations?

Kindly share your comments!! Thanks for visiting the blog today. 

Reference

Marzano, R. (2004).
Building background knowledge for academic achievement: research on   

          what works in the schools.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum    
          Development.

Six Vocabulary Building Steps for Speech-Language Therapy

Vocabulary knowledge and expression is critical for children and adolescents’ success in communicating their ideas and summarizing curriculum information. But what about those with communication disorders, language disorders, and learning disabilities? They often have a limited vocabulary that hinders their ability to comprehend information and clearly express their thoughts. They need direct instruction from speech language pathologists to learn vocabulary building strategies. They need multiple exposures of a word to transfer it to their spoken vocabulary. They need opportunities to hear new words, speak them, read them, and write them in the appropriate context. Children and adolescents need to be taught high frequency tier 2 vocabulary words. However, young children also need therapeutic intervention to expand their semantic processing skills of Tier 1 everyday vocabulary. Did you know that there are six vocabulary building research based steps that speech-language pathologists can use during intervention? Yep. You may have activities that have words that you want to teach, but how do you go about it?

Where do you begin? First, you need assessments to determine where to start in speech language therapy sessions. I’ve got you covered as my Vocabulary Progress Monitoring tool directly addresses semantic processing skills. With information from these informal assessments you can effectively determine starting points in therapy and quickly determine growth over time. There is a hierarchy of progression  for semantic processing of tier 1 vocabulary words and then kids move on to learning tier 2 words. Children typically learn to label, state functions, name word associations, convergent/divergent categories, explain similarities/differences of basic words, state antonyms, state synonyms and explain multiple meanings words (tier 2). I do not suggest teaching the words in the vocabulary progress monitoring tool, but you can determine where in the semantic/neurological hierarchy to target in therapy.

A metaanalysis of research studies confirmed that identifying similarities and differences had a 45 percentile gain in overall student achievement (Marzano 2001).

When children start kindergarten, they have varying levels of vocabulary knowledge and expression based on previous language exposure at home, preschool, and in their community. Speech-language pathologists may remind classroom teachers that they need to explicitly teach word building strategies to children. Teachers can use the Vocabulary Progress Monitoring tool for students in the Response to Intervention (RTI) process to evaluate what they know and monitor their progress after provided direct instruction.

Over the years, I have seen significant progress in children’s and adolescents’ communication and language skills when they are directly taught vocabulary and provided opportunities to learn and use new words.

In order to effectively instruct students during speech-language therapy, you must clearly understand the three tiers of vocabulary before you can implement the 6 vocabulary building steps.

Tier 1 words are high frequency vocabulary that are often heard everyday in conversation and learned by many children during incidental learning. These are basic level words. However, many young children with language disorders have a limited repertoire of these words and require direct instruction of these words.

Tier 2 words are high frequency  and general academic vocabulary that are used across content areas. These include words such as analyze, compare, contrast, and multiple meaning words.

Tier 3 words are considered low frequency vocabulary because they are specific to curriculum subject matter such as social studies or science. These may be words such as topography, ecosystem, or molecule.

Speech-language pathologists should primarily focus on building Tier 1 and Tier 2 vocabulary skills for children and adolescents with language disorders because these are frequently occurring words in conversation and academic curriculum. So, what are the six vocabulary building strategies that SLPs may use in speech-language therapy? These are based on educational expert, Dr. Robert Marzano’s research over the years.

1. SLP describes a new word and provides an example.

This goes beyond saying the definition.

2. Child restates or describes the new term in his or her own words.

3. Child creates a non-linguistic representation of the word such as a drawing or acting out the word.

A metaanalysis of research studies confirm that non-linguistic representations led to a 27 percentile gain in overall student achievement (Marzano 2001).

4. Child completes an interactive activity to extend his or her understanding of the new word.

5. Child verbally discusses new vocabulary term with others.

He or she needs time for oral language practice. This is critical to deepening understanding of the word.

6. Child plays learning games to review new vocabulary.

I know that speech-language therapists provide countless descriptions of new words with visuals for children and adolescents during language therapy. Students complete many activities including word descriptions and play vocabulary learning games in therapy session. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind these 6 research based steps for vocabulary building. Dr. Robert Marzano’s research points out that it is important not to skip steps. Therefore, in clinical practice for SLPs, perhaps we should think about how many of these steps we are doing. Do our sessions have a emphasis at times on playing games in language therapy? Yes, it’s fun, but we must take the time to directly teach new vocabulary and not just jump to the activity or game. However, I do acknowledge that games such as Blurt do provide opportunities for the SLP and children to describe new words while participating in an interactive game. It is often in these opportunities that children can practice listening to descriptions, building word retrieval skills, and confirming their learning of new words. However, SLPs should try to implement the Six Steps for Building Vocabulary in their speech-language therapy sessions with children and adolescents. I acknowledge that SLPs have a limited time each speech language therapy session. Therefore, you most likely can not implement all 6 steps in 1 session. However, I encourage you to reflect on the suggested progression of steps proposed by Dr. Marzano and see if there are adjustments that you may make in your clinical practice to promote children’s semantic growth. As speech language pathologists, we are therapeutic specialists who can break down learning and give children multiple exposures to acquire new words both receptively and expressively.

Remember that “student’s vocabulary knowledge is directly tied to their success in school” (Marzano 2013).

References:

2013. Marzano, R., Simms, J. Vocabulary for the Common Core. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research.

2004. Marzano, R., Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement. Research on What Works in Schools. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

2001. Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

2007. Richard, G., Hanner, M. Language Processing Treatment Activities. LinguiSystems Inc. Austin, TX.

Do you want to read more articles about direct vocabulary instruction? Check out these previous posts on my blog.

Why Teach Word Associations?

Why Do You Teach Categorization in Speech-Language Therapy?

Why Teach Multiple Meaning Words?

Do you need activities to work on vocabulary building in speech-language therapy? I have several therapy activities for SLPs to use with children and adolescents available for digital download in my TPT store. You can also click on the vocabulary activities section  under TOPICS on this blog. Just scroll back to the top to read more.

Speech-Language Therapy Technology Resource Guide

I am excited that my complimentary Speech-Language Therapy Resource Guide is now available in my TPT store!! I have wanted to put this together for a while now and I am glad that it is done! I am sure that I will add resources to this guide from time to time. When you follow my TPT store and subscribe to my blog, you will receive direct notifications of product updates.

So, you may be wondering, “why would a speech-language pathologist want to integrate technology in therapy sessions?” There are so many reasons. If you are a school based speech-language pathologist, this provides you a great way to differentiate instruction by what you are teaching (content), how (process), and product (end result).  You can assign one or two students to work at a technology station with headphones while you interact directly with others. 

I have many students who are working on answering wh questions and I often have them practice using Webber Interactive “WH” Questions CD by Super Duper Publications. I love this CD because it provides a brief lesson for each type of question and then the child can practice answering the specific question set that he or she needs to work on. You can select an option to provide the child with a field of 2-4 choices and I usually select a field of 4 choices. Another awesome part is the CD tracks the child’s accuracy. At the end of the session, I just print the data and put it in the child’s file. I also frequently have students who are practicing listening comprehension at the story level use Auditory Memory for Quick Stories (Fiction)CD or Auditory Memory High-Interest Quick Stories (Non-Fiction) CD  that also tracks students’ data.

Another way to integrate technology into speech-language therapy sessions is to lead a whole group or individual session using a resource that directly addresses a specific learning target for your student or client. In the guide, you will find a list of interactive websites, iPad Apps, video clips, SMART Board lessons, and iBook lessons. You will also find a list of resources according to speech-language therapy work areas of need such as speech articulation, speech fluency, language, vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, auditory memory, pragmatic language, and phonological awareness.  I have also included a list of helpful websites that have great printables and general information beneficial for SLPs. 

For example, I frequently use the website jacobslessons.com with my K-2 students who need practice with prepositions and pronouns. I use do2learn.com with students who need to work on categorization (what doesn’t belong) or synonyms and antonyms. My 3rd-5th grade students are pros at using henryanker.com to practice synonyms and antonyms. Although this website states that it has tests by grade level,  I use them as therapy instructional activities.

As you know, there are tons of iPad Apps. It is important that the SLP carefully selects apps that will directly address the needs of each speech language student or client. You want them to have fun interacting with technology, but it needs to be meaningful and therapeutic as well. Therefore, the SLP will need to introduce the app as she would a usual speech language activity and then guide them through or modify the app as needed to work towards mastery of the skill being taught.

Many SLPs use iPads in therapy and it can also be a great tool to download and organize TPT digital speech-language activities into iBooks. This way you can have easy access to a library of fantastic therapy lessons. I recommend using my 2nd-5th Grade Common Core Standards Vocabulary task cards in iBooks to provide educationally relevant therapy.

For those that provide direct therapy in a general education or special education classroom, you may use several lessons included in this guide on a SMART Board. 

I hope that you take time to explore this guide as you plan to integrate new technology resources into your speech-language therapy sessions with your students or clients. Keep in mind that technology should never replace skilled direct therapy instruction by a licensed SLP. Kids still need personal interactions to learn and practice communication and language skills. However, technology can be used to supplement more traditional therapy lessons. 

Remember the overall goal of speech-language therapy is for students or clients to make gains in their communication, language, and literacy skills. In doing so, they will make progress towards or master their IEP speech-language objectives or goals in private practice therapy.  

Thanks for reading the blog today!

Tamara Anderson

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