Literacy Website Review # 2 {Technology}

I am constantly adding new grade level fiction and non-fiction text to my speech-language therapy resources. It is critical that speech-language pathologists support developing children’s literacy skills on a regular basis. I do this by addressing listening comprehension and vocabulary IEP objectives related to text at students’ instructional reading level. An instructional reading level is the level of book that they can read with adult support. 

I love the website http://www.readinga-z.com/   because there is a ton of information on this site!You can search for books by different categories. I go right to the literature genre and leveled book collections when I need language therapy materials. 

If you are an SLP supporting the 3rd grade Common Core Reading Standards, you should click on the tab for Fables and access these books:

  

Each book is marked with an alphabetical letter that corresponds with a certain reading level. For example, the Boy who Cried Wolf is marked “Level E or 1st grade” but it supports the 3rd grade standard of teaching fables. I read aloud the stories to the children and have them follow along in a printed book. Then, I ask story comprehension and vocabulary questions. You can also have students practice story retell. 

I love that this website also has vocabulary lists available that are already sorted into Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III words. How awesome is that! The SLP can teach kids how to use context clues to understand the meaning of the words. 

You can also verbally model for your students how to verbally compare and contrast fiction/non-fiction text using the recommended paired book sets. Then have them practice this skill. This encourages kids to use higher level thinking skills to identify similarities and differences between the characters and events. Here is the link to access paired books by reading grade level: /http://www.readinga-z.com/book-related-resources/paired-books/

I frequently go to the leveled books tab when I want to differentiate instruction for my students. I will select a book for each child at their instructional reading level. For example, I may have a 4th grade student who is reading at a 3rd grade instructional level. So I may select level Q text such as:

Since I am a SLP, I read aloud the text so that the child is practicing their listening comprehension skills. However, I believe it is important to provide them access to books at their instructional reading level so they are not frustrated with their literacy practice. Their special education resource teacher addresses their reading decoding and comprehension objectives. 

You may access some of this information on the site for free! However, I recommend paying for a subscription because it is well worth the money! 

Thanks for visiting the blog today. 

Tamara

Literacy Website Review {Technology}

Last school year, a friend of mine told me about roythezebra.com, a website that has an engaging fiction story, literacy worksheets, and interactive reading games.  The story is divided into nine parts and features the main character, Roy the zebra.  This is great to use as a group language therapy activity in the classroom. 

This year, I am currently enjoying using this resource with two language therapy groups.  Before reading the story, Roy the Tale of the Singing Zebra,  I ask my students questions to help them make predictions about what the story will be about. Then I read aloud the story during a  language therapy lesson in both a moderate intellectual disability class and a mild autism class. My students are enjoying viewing the story as it is displayed on the whiteboard and listening to my animated oral reading.  In one of the classrooms, I am using Mimio software that allows me to easily click through the pages of the story by touching the stylus pen on the white board. 

At the beginning of the story, Roy lives in a zoo where all his favorite activities of singing, dancing, and rolling around are banned. In part two, he is eager to escape from the horrible zoo and gets help from his friend George and his elephant friend Lucy. At the end of each part, my students want to know what happens next but they have to wait until the next weeks lesson.

I recommend that the SLP or teacher pause the reading of the story at times to model “think alouds” by asking questions. This helps check for story comprehension and teaches them to think while they are listening. This is especially necessary for students with language disorders because of the unknown vocabulary that is embedded in the story. There are discussion questions available for use after reading the story to further check for understanding. 

There are 27 literacy worksheets available or  3 for each part of the story that may be used after listening to the story. The worksheets address skills such as sentence construction, correct use of punctuation marks, capitalization, story sequencing, rhyming words answering literal comprehension questions, and character perspective taking. I think the worksheets are great to use as extension activities by the speech-language pathologist or the teacher as appropriate by the skill taught. However, I typically ask students verbal questions and ask them to orally respond due to time constraints during language therapy lessons. 

Additionally, this literacy website has interactive whiteboard lesson plans that can be paired with provided learning games to teach literacy skills. An associated worksheet is also available to be completed as classwork or homework. I have not personally used the interactive games, but have reviewed them online and told the special education teachers about them. Some of the learning games are free and some you have to pay $6.95 to access them.

Here is the list of the free learning games:
Alphabetical Order- sequence words in alphabetical order 

Double Consonants- add word endings (ff, ss, bl, br, cl, cr, ck, ng)

Singular or Plural- sorting activity to distinguish between singular and plural nouns  *This is a great activity for SLPs to use.

Long Vowel Phonemes- identify target sound blends by clicking on them to make new words *Certain sounds such as “er”, “ir”, “or” would be great to use with students practicing their speech articulation of vocalic /r/.

Rhyming words- identify words that sound the same or rhyme

Here is the list of the learning games available for purchase ($6.95):

Consonant Blends- targets phonological processing skill of blending and segmenting consonants to make CVCC words

Long Vowel Phonemes- complete access to learning game; add vowels to make new words 

Tim Bowerbank in the creator of roythezebra.com. He was inspired to create the character Roy, after a trip to South Africa. He requests that all users register on the website and subscribe to his literacy newsletter before using the free resources. 

I encourage you to integrate technology in your speech language therapy lessons or instructional time in the classroom. Thanks for the reading the blog today. 

Tamara  Anderson

Driven by Innovation

On Sunday, I went to one of my favorite places in Atlanta, The High Museum. In fact, I love it so much I have an annual membership that I purchased for a steal back in September! The museum’s latest major exhibition is Dream Cars that features unique and imaginative cars that were designed in the 1930s through the present by Ferrari, Buggatti, General Motors, and Porsche. These automakers designed cars that changed the industry by challenging what was possible both technologically and stylistically. 

Here are a few photos from my visit. 

This made me think about the field of speech-language pathology and education. What are these industries doing to challenge the notion of what is possible for students’ communication and academic successes? What are speech-language pathologists and educators doing to modify how they assess students and implement therapy sessions and instruction? In recent years, I think SLPs and educators have done and continue to do a TREMENDOUS amount of preparation to select evidence based materials, evaluate what children already know, teach, and evaluate again to see what children learned. 

Common Core Standards and differentiated instruction are terms that I hear frequently while working as a school based speech-language pathologist. There are many people on both the pros and cons side of the Common Core Standards discussion and I’ll spare you the debate here. However, I like the accountability piece that the common core standards creates for school districts that use these standards to guide instruction. 

In the same manner, I believe that differentiated instruction, in which a teacher modifies how they teach, what they teach, and how they assess children is an essential shift in the style from traditional teaching. I also think that it should be best practice for all educators to implement curriculum design based on Grant Wiggins’ notion of creating a solid assessment before instructing students so that you know clearly what and how you expect them to demonstrate mastery of specific learning standards. 

As far as technology goes, there has been a significant increase in the amount of technology that SLPs and educators use to select lessons that drive children’s learning while implementing new techniques that assist in delivering results. The use of interactive SMART boards, IPads, Mimio Boards, and computer based therapeutic/educational program are engaging for children and contribute to learning when implemented effectively.  Additionally, teachers and SLPs are able to collaborate with other professionals not only at their school, but also nationwide and globally through the use of online blogs, discussion boards, Twitter, Pinterest, and other forms of social media. Children and adolescents in today’s society are very technologically savvy and I have observed that they love creative and innovative lessons rather than the same old therapy and education styles from even 5 to 10 years ago. 

What are ways that you implement creativity and innovation in your speech language therapy sessions or classroom? I’d love to hear! 

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

Valentine’s Word Associations

Today, I worked on Valentine’s word associations with some of my speech-language students during an arts & craft activity. They chose either red or pink construction paper and traced a large heart. I explained to them that word associations are words that go together or are related. I told them to share words they know that are related to Valentine’s day.

Here is an example of the heart my kindergarten student who has a significant fluency disorder made:

I then used the First Words Valentine IPAD application by Learning Touch to review the word associations. This application has cute graphics depicting each key word and then provides an opportunity for the students to drag each letter to spell the word. My kindergarten student was eager to place the letters in the correct spot as the background had a faded letter that told him how to spell the words and voiced the letter as he did so. He seemed to enjoy the game as it reinforced some of the words he stated when making his heart. Since he is a student with a fluency disorder, I directed him to practice saying his words in slow and easy sentences using his fluency strategies. He did a great job using his fluency strategies in structured sentences.

Here is another picture from a 3rd grade language therapy session today. The top left was an example I made. The remainder here are the beginning of my students’ word associations work. This group will write their associations on the back and practice using the words in oral sentences. I plan to read a short story to them later this week related to Valentine’s Day and have them identify word associations and also practice verbally summarizing and sequencing the story events.

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