Technology and Response to Intervention {RTI Blog Hop}

I am excited to be a part of this School Based Innovation and RTI Blog Hop hosted by Jennifer Preschern at Speech, Language, and Literacy Lab, LLC! Thanks for the opportunity to share my ideas about RTI during ASHA’s Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Speech-language pathologists definitely play a role in Response to Intervention or RTI as early identification of children at risk for speech-language challenges is essential to our scope of practice. RTI is a tiered system that requires quality evidence based instruction, universal screening, and progress monitoring of specific learning targets. In my school district, I have observed that many teachers have a good understanding of implementing research based instruction for students according to the curriculum. However, they need assistance with providing different strategies and educational opportunities for students that are not learning as expected. They often need assistance with progress monitoring identified weak speech, language, and academic skills.


This is where the use of technology can help provide research based intervention while also recording the accuracy of students’ performance.¬†There has been an increase in the use of technology in speech-language therapy, education, and in homes throughout the world. Many kids are very knowledgeable about using computers and iPads. Although technology should never replace social interactions and oral communication, it can be a valuable tool. When implemented correctly, technology can support direct instruction and provided practice for kids working on different speech-language therapy and academic skills.

I recommend HearBuilder Educational Software Program by Super Duper Publications because it provides interventions to address phonological/phonemic awareness skills, auditory memory, following directions, and listening comprehension (sequencing). The program is research based and provides mini instructional lessons as well as independent practice opportunities to address previously identified areas of need. This year, my speech language pathology department purchased the internet subscription for SLPs to use in the ENTIRE district! How awesome is that! I have seen success using the program for students receiving RTI as well as those receiving speech-language therapy.

For example, many kindergarten and 1st grade teachers have reported that their students have difficulty learning early reading skills such as rhyming, blending sounds to make words, segmenting words into sounds, etc. This program has a specific module to address these phonemic awareness skills that a speech-language pathologist can assign as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention. The SLP can select from the following specific early reading skills for each student to practice and the program will track the percentage of accuracy as well:

Phoneme Addition, Phoneme Blending, Phoneme Deletion, Phoneme Manipulation, Phoneme Segmentation & Identification, Rhyming, Sentence Segmentation, Syllable Blending, Syllable Segmentation

I recommend periodically watching students as they complete learning tasks, reviewing and printing data. Doing so, will enable the SLP to best make adjustments as needed to settings of the selected computer based intervention based on students’ performance.

I have also observed that many children at risk for language disorders and learning disabilities struggle with auditory memory. The HearBuilder program has an excellent component that addresses memory for numbers, words, WH questions, details, and auditory closure. I suggest selecting 1 or 2 sections of the auditory memory program to provide intensive intervention in the students’ weak areas. As they progress through the different levels within each section, you can give them access to complete another memory module (e.g. memory for WH questions).

Similarly, the following directions intervention section of this program has a systematic hierarchy that builds from: basic concepts (qualitative, spatial), quantitative, sequential, temporal, conditional. I recommend that the SLP change the settings of the program so each student only has access to practice 1 or 2 sections. Many regular education teachers often report that students do not following directions in the classroom. It may be because they do not understand basic vocabulary concepts that are addressed in the HearBuilder program.

The sequencing intervention provides practice with listening to information to put instructions and stories in order. Sequencing is a critical skill that is essential for successful verbal and written narrative development. Many kids at risk for a speech-language disorder or learning disability struggle in this area.

In addition to using the data tracking in HearBuilder, you may also use other informal assessment tools to monitor students progress in RTI. For example, I have a FREEBIE for you that can be used to record baseline and progress check data for “Wh” questions in my TPT store here.

I have other progress monitoring tools in my TPT store for basic concepts (qualitative, spatial) and vocabulary (hierarchy of semantic processing). Just click on the progress monitoring custom category to review the resources available for speech-language pathologists, educators, or RTI specialists to use.

Thanks for reading the blog today. Make sure you read Starfish Therapies‘ RTI blog article tomorrow and other posts the rest of the month. You can learn more about Starfish Therapies here if you need direct speech-language, physical, or occupational therapy services and you live in San Francisco, California. Thanks for joining the celebration today for Better Hearing and Speech Month!

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

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 with my K-2 students who need practice with prepositions and pronouns. I use 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 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

Literacy Website Review # 4 {Fry Sight Words}

students with language disorders have co-occurring learning disabilities in the
areas of reading and writing. They need direct intervention to increase their reading decoding, sight word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. 

Students need practice to improve their automaticity for oral reading of sight words. Recently, I have been thinking of ways to support the special education teachers’ goal of improving the reading skills of students with reading disabilities and language disorders.  Sometimes the progress is slower than we would anticipate and we are eager to close the gap when the kids are reading several grade levels behind. We discussed that the students really need to improve their sight word recognition of Fry words. Research shows that students need to read the first 300 by 3rd grade and 1000 words in 4th and 5th grade to successfully read on grade level. 

I was going to make flash cards for students to take home for practice and then I stumbled across the website:

The Unique Teaching Resources website is awesome because it has the Fry words flashcards for 1000 high frequency words already created! Plus, there are progress monitoring checklists for all the words. I especially like that the words are divided into sets of 10 and 20 words based on the needs of students that you are working with. 

This is an excellent resource to share with parents for them to encourage their kids to practice their sight words. If you have a literacy night at your school, this is a great website to share with parents and staff to access the FREE and beneficial resources! 

An added bonus on this website is that it includes 100 nouns with pictures. This is great to use with language disordered kids who are building their receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. 

In a special education classroom, students sometimes practice their sight words online via a power point presentation of words. However, I think is important for  them to also have access to practice their sight words with flash cards when they are on the go. They can practice reading on the bus, in the car, at home easily without having to turn on a computer. Yes I do love technology. However, I also believe back to the basics instruction is needed as well. 

Students in K-2nd generally practice their sight words with hands on flash cards or other word work activities when they are learning to read. What about students in grades 3-5 or even middle and high school who are reading below grade level? They still need intervention to improve their sight word recognition and reading decoding even though they are expected at that level to read to learn. But what happens when they still need to learn sight words? Special education teachers need to make remediating this area a priority and not just teach comprehension strategies and the grade level standards despite time constraints. Yes, kids need to learning comprehension strategies but they must learn sight word and how to decode words too! 

This educational literacy website is created by a teacher for other educators and it is definitely jam packed with great FREE literacy resources along with some lesson plans available for purchase. 

The website does not directly share other ideas for students to learn sight words other than flash cards. However, they can play games such as BINGO, Go Fish, and Memory to practice this skill. Dr. Edward Fry’s book is the perfect resource for this.
(Dr. Fry’s 1000 Instant Words: The Most Common Words for Teaching Reading, Writing, & Spelling). You can view a preview

Here is a great website if you would like to see the Fry word lists as related to the Common Core Standards for K-5th grade.

I like that the K12 reader website reminds you to have students practice their reading sight words in contexts of sentences, paragraphs, and writing the words as well. 

Thanks for reading the blog today!

* Tamara Anderson
BSL Speech & Language

Literacy Review # 3 { Technology }

This week, I have been integrating technology based literacy activities in pediatric speech-language group therapy sessions. So many kids with receptive language disorders need to improve their listening  comprehension skills when read fiction and non-fiction text. That is why I love the 2 products from Super Duper Publications, Auditory Memory for Quick Stories (fiction text) and Auditory Memory High-Interest Quick Stories, Curriculum-Based Stories for Science and Social Studies (non-fiction text). There are 30 fiction stories and 30 non-fiction stories. I purchased these about 3 years ago and I am so glad that I did!

Using these resources allows the SLP or classroom teacher to differentiate instruction by content or what the child needs to learn. The SLP may vary her delivery of services by providing individualized instruction to a student on a specific learning objective (e.g. multiple meaning words) while other students practice their listening comprehension skills using these literacy technology resources. 

These Cds also have built in capabilities for differentiated instruction based on the process because there are leveled settings available that the SLP or teacher can select based on a child’s current literacy abilities. For example, on level 1, a child is presented with a question after each picture. The levels increase by providing more auditory information and visual pictures before the next set of comprehension questions. The 4th and highest level is strictly auditory and requires keen listening for details from stories. 

I love this product because it provides children an opportunity to improve their memory skills and language comprehension. It also helps foster a love of literacy. This is a definite win for the SLP and teacher because this program tracks data according to percentages from each story. I recommend printing the scores regularly to ensure that you maintain meticulous therapy data or work samples for your classroom.   

Have you used this resource before? What are your thoughts?

Tamara Anderson
BSL Speech & Language

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