Effective Informal Assessments & Learning Activities From TPT { Top 20 List }

Over the last three and a half years, I have gathered an extensive collection of informal assessments and learning activities from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). Most speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and educators know that TPT is an educational website that has a massive amount of instructional products for elementary through high school aged students. These activities are specially created by SLPs and educators to improve the communication, language, literacy, and overall academic skills of students. I have been an SLP for almost 12 years and have created numerous assessments and therapeutic activities to promote gains in my students’ speech-language skills. Some of which are available in my TPT store.  I truly love designing materials for my individual clients when I provide private speech language therapy and my elementary school aged students that I serve each week. Many of my resources are great for use by teachers with their students in the classroom as well to build language and literacy skills.

I have discovered that when working with children, it is necessary to have fun, engaging, and educationally relevant materials. It is definitely best practice to readily have informal assessments to gather baseline data that measure children’s knowledge prior to beginning therapy. This way you can accurately measure their growth and not target skills that they have already mastered. Similarly, it is important to have a variety of meaningful and interactive learning activities that will keep students motivated to learn. So, here is my top 20 list of Effective Informal Assessments & Learning Activities From TPT (Click on the link for direct access to products):

1)Speech-Language Therapy Informal Assessments Early Language
*This tool evaluates basic “wh” questions, yes/no questions,
divergent categorization (naming items in a category),
convergent categorization (naming category)

2) Basic Concepts Baseline Data & Progress Check Activity
* This activity evaluates spatial and qualitative concepts
(prepositions/adjectives)
* There is also an instructional level of activity provided.

3) Vocabulary Progress Monitoring
* This is an informal assessment that measures students’
knowledge and expression of semantic processing skills: object
function, associations, categories, similarities, differences,
synonyms, antonyms, multiple meanings, oral definitions of tier
1 words with attributes, oral definitions of tier 3 words
(academic), figurative language expressions

4) Speech Progress Monitoring
*This is a quick and easy data collection tool that measures
speech fluency or occurrence of stuttering as well as speech
intelligibility.

5) Oral Story Retelling Rubric
*Narrative development is a critical skill that is lacking in many
preschool and elementary school aged children. I created this
tool to have an informal assessment to measure their oral story
retelling skills according to key story elements. It’s best to audio
or video record a child’s speaking sample for an accurate
analysis.

6) Speech-Language Therapy Curriculum Assessments
*These are a series of informal assessments that measure
receptive E/LA curriculum vocabulary knowledge from the
Common Core State Standards.The assessments are in a cloze
sentence (fill-in-the blank) format with a word bank.

7) English/Language Arts Vocabulary Progress Monitoring
* This is a curriculum vocabulary progress monitoring tool that
measures children’s expressive E/LA vocabulary skills. There
are 10 word lists with 105 total words in the areas of: story
vocabulary, types of nouns, types of sentences, parts of
sentences, parts of speech, types of literature, types of writing,
text features, figurative language, and prefixes.

8) Guess What? Curriculum Vocabulary Bundle
* This bundle includes a series of 4 game sets to provide tons of
practice for children to learn E/LA curriculum words. To play the
game, a person selects a mystery word. Then others in the group
use the included semantic maps or question prompts to guess the
mystery word. The players take turns selecting a mystery word
for others to guess. Kids have fun learning while playing!

9) English/Language Arts Comprehensive Categorization Bundle
* Categorization is a language organization skill that helps kids
organize vocabulary, ideas, and academic concepts. They need
direct instruction in this area to improve their memory, word
retrieval, and overall language comprehension and verbal
expression. This bundle provides tons of practice with
categorization of curriculum vocabulary. There are 4 products
included: sorting, memory game, category book, and
categorization cards (tier I and tier III words).

10) English/Language Arts Common Core Standards Vocabulary 
   Bundle
* This is a task cards bundle that has 180 questions aligned with
2nd-5th grade E/LA common core standards. This product is
great for language therapy or use in the classroom during small
group instruction or whole group lessons. Skills address a variety
of vocabulary, grammar, and E/LA content questions in a
multiple choice format.

11) Back to School Baseline Bundle
* I use this product to collect baseline data as well as guided
practice during speech-language therapy sessions. It includes
practice with: synonyms, antonyms, homophones, homographs,
irregular plural nouns, irregular past tense verbs, and word
associations. I can easily differentiate instruction according to
students’ learning needs during sessions by varying the questions
asked.

12) Fall Speech-Language Activities Bundle
* In the fall, I use this bundle frequently for my students to
practice fall themed vocabulary according to associations,
multiple meaning words, and oral definitions with attributes
(Tier I and Tier III terms). Kids can also practice identifying
words when read definitions by the SLP or teacher from the
included question prompts. The kids enjoy playing the fall                 themed game board all season.

13) The Mitten Speech-Language Activities
*In the winter, I use this book companion set with my students
in grades 3-5. It includes articulation word lists, wh questions,
synonyms, antonyms, and tier 2 vocabulary practice.

14) Valentine’s Themed Categories & Associations
*This is an engaging holiday themed activity to address  2
critical language language processing skills: categories and
word associations. Kids can verbally name items in categories
and word associations as well as write responses on the
included writing practice pages.

15) Winter Land: English/Language Arts Activities
*My students are always asking to play Winter Land. They love
the game board from this product that I glued onto a larger
poster board and then laminated. I use it all winter with the
categorization task cards included and a variety of other
learning questions.

16) Non-Fiction Language Bundle
* This bundle is excellent for use during speech-language therapy
sessions or language arts lessons from February-March or year
round. It includes a Historical African American Unit that has
7 non-fiction passages, 46 comprehension questions, 70
context clues questions (tier 2 vocab),  compare/contrast
pages, and 7 word association practice opportunities. The
second product is a Historical Irish American Unit that has 6
non-fiction passages, 36 comprehension questions, 60 context
clues questions, compare/contrast pages, and 7 word
association practice opportunities. Additional units will be
added such as Historical American Women.

17) Beach Themed Multiple Meanings Memory Activity
* Spring and summer are two of my favorite seasons. I created
this product with beach photographs from my trips to Florida.
The learning cards have homophones and homographs
vocabulary that can be used to play a memory game. Children
can also practice stating definitions of words or using them in
sentences to convey the correct meanings.

18) Beach Themed Monster Trucks- Synonyms & Antonyms
*Many students struggle with word relationships including
synonyms and antonyms. This free activity contains plenty of
vocabulary practice for kids on task cards with “monster trucks”
in the background. These photographs were also taken during a
beach trip to Florida. My boy students especially enjoy this
activity!

19) Parent Handouts for Communication Disorders
* This is a free resource guide that SLPs can give to parents
that provides a quick overview of communication disorders. It
briefly outlines the difference between speech sound disorders
and language disorders. It also provides tips to improving
speech-language skills including interactive websites.

20) Speech-Language Therapy Technology Resource Guide
*This is a complimentary resource guide to help SLPs integrate
technology in therapy sessions. This will help vary activities in
sessions and keep kids engaged during group sessions.

I know that this is a long list, but considering I have an extensive amount of products in my personal TPT library, I wanted to make sure that I give you my top 20 list from my TPT store! 🙂 This is a great starting place for a new SLP/teacher or someone who wants some fresh materials to improve the communication, language, literacy, and academic skills of students.

Have a great remainder of the school year. Perhaps you can use a few of these effective informal assessment and learning activities with your students. I have 15 days remaining with my speech language students this year, but who’s counting! 🙂

Thanks for reading my blog today!

Tamara Anderson

Effective Year Round Speech-Language Therapy Materials {Top 15 List}

It’s official. This has been my busiest year working in the school system EVER! I have evaluated numerous students, provided direct speech-language therapy services for children in 1st-5th grade, served as one of my district’s team leaders, supervised a new SLP for her Georgia license. It’s been a great year overall despite it being hectic at times. There are just 19 days remaining for students!

Now that the end of the year is quickly approaching and my plate is not as full, I can reflect a bit about this school year. I always make sure that I have my frequently used materials literally within arms reach on the bookshelf by my therapy table. 

I thought that you would like to know my top 15 effective speech-language therapy materials that I use year round. The students on my caseload have made progress on their IEP objectives using these resources. I purposefully did not include Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) products or iPAD apps because I think those are worthy of a separate post. 🙂 Ok. Here is my top 15 list of effective year round materials categorized by disorder. I’ve listed the publisher in parentheses if you want to purchase the items (and no I don’t work for Super Duper Publications or other companies…lol). 

Articulation/Phonology:
1) Webber’s Jumbo Articulation Book (Super Duper)
*Sometimes it’s best to KISS. Keep it so simple. This book is speech gold. It’s perfect for therapy and home practice. Plus, I had very few students with articulation or phonology disorders on my caseload so it was a great grab and go activity for speech sound drill work.

Speech Fluency/Pragmatic Language: 
2) What Do You Say…What Do You Do…At School? (Super Duper)
*This is an excellent social skills game board. Kids can learn how to solve problems for real life scenarios.  This game is great for kids to practice speech fluency strategies with oral reading, answering questions, and overall conversation. 

3) The School-Age Child Who Stutters: Working Effectively with Attitudes and Emotions (Stuttering Foundation)
*I LOVE that this product has practical ideas for addressing the emotional aspects for children who stutter. I have several 1st-5th grade students on my caseload who stutter. They use components of this book to add pages to their personal fluency books that we create throughout the year. Their books have a ton of information about stuttering, their feelings, strategies, and therapy practice exercises. 

Semantics/Sentence Building/Grammar:
4) Picturing Vocabulary Cards (Gander Publishing)
*These cards are ideal for labeling Tier I every day vocabulary, working on categorization skills, describing words, identifying attributes, and expressing simple sentences (e.g. I see the _____, I  have the _______). 

5) Webber Photo Cards- Verbs
*The title says it all, but I use these cards ALL the time. My students typically practice present progressive verb sentences with these cards (e.g The boy/girl is ______ + ing).

6) Define & Describe Double Dice Deck (Speech Corner)
*I like that this card deck has real photos of basic nouns. Kids can practice oral definitions with attributes or you place several pictures on the table and have them identify the card based on stated attributes. 

7) Compare & Contrast Double Dice Deck (Speech Corner)
*I like that this card deck has real photos of basic nouns. The students love the “double dice” and selecting the card that matches the shape that they rolled. I use this often without the dice to increase the trials for oral language practice during group therapy when they describe similarities and differences of nouns.

8) Synonyms & Antonyms Double Dice Deck (Speech Corner)
*This deck has tons of Tier I and Tier 2 vocabulary for endless practice. I tend to use these cards if I want to increase the difficulty level for students working on naming synonyms and antonyms. I also like that the cards have pictures along with text for those that need visual cues. 

9) Context Clues in Stories (Super Duper)
*My 3rd-5th grade students need plenty of tier 2 vocabulary practice. This product has 2 levels of cards. One has a short paragraph with a fill in the blank sentence for them to figure out the word from a field of 3 choices. The other has a color coded target word  in a paragraph and a field of 3 choices for them to identify the definition. 

10) Vocabulary Chipper Chat (Super Duper)
My students rarely complete worksheets in therapy sessions or play traditional board games, so they LOVE when they get to play this game. It’s amazing how earning tokens after answering learning questions with the added incentive of cleaning up the activity with the included magnetic wand keeps them motivated during a 30 minute session. This product is EXCELLENT to differentiate instruction based on your student’s vocabulary objectives! You can choose from these 12 skills: analogies, associations, attributes, categories, compare & contrast, context clues, figurative language, functions, homonyms/homographs, homophones, synonyms & antonyms, verbs

11) Grammar Chipper Chat (Super Duper)
This is a definite favorite activity for my students and ideal for differentiated instruction during group therapy. The kids each enjoy picking an animal themed game/token board. I like the variety of grammar skills that you can target and opportunities for oral language practice. 

12) No Glamour Sequencing Cards (LinguiSystems now Super Duper)
*This product has a variety of colorful picture sequences. I typically give students only 3-4 cards  and have them put them in order. I use these cards for kids to practice comprehension and expression of present, past, and future verb tenses. I pair the cards often with written text to assist them with comprehending/using different sentence structures.  

General Receptive/Expressive Language
13) What is the Main Idea? (Super Duper)
*This resource is great for the majority of students on my caseload. They can practice their auditory comprehension skills by identifying the main idea from a field of 3 choices, retelling brief paragraph, or answering WH questions that you create. 

14) Fiction & Non-Fiction Passages Binder (SLP created)
*I keep a binder of passages organized by reading levels that I can easily select. Many of my students have IEP objectives to increase listening/language comprehension skills when read aloud text and/or provided a copy of text at their instructional reading levels. They also have objectives to identify meanings of tier 2 vocabulary words using context clues from text.  I use the instructional reading levels according to the level determined from reading assessments by their special education teacher. For example, I may have a 4th grade student who is reading at an instructional 2nd grade level. Therefore, I have found that my students improve their language and literacy skills over time when I use articles with specific readability levels. 
*I use websites such as readworks.org, education.com, superteacherworksheets.com, and havefunteaching.com  to print passages.

15) Fiction & Non-Fiction Books (My personal classroom library)
*Each month, I have a selection of books that I read aloud to my speech-language therapy students. I have seen tremendous progress in the speech and language skills of my students during literature based lessons. This is by far my favorite and most effective way to promote receptive and expressive language growth. My students truly enjoy when I read to them and are eager to name vocabulary, retell stories, identify problem/solution, identify cause/effect, and answer story elements/comprehension questions. They are proud when they correctly answer questions about the story. Most of the students on my caseload also have co-occurring language based learning disability, autism, moderate intellectual disability, and/or ADHD and I can honestly say that they are engaged when I use books in therapy. Make sure that you subscribe to my blog because I’ll share a list of my favorite seasonal/monthly books that I use throughout the year. 

I hope that you enjoyed this post and have a few ideas about new products to use or new ways to target teaching speech-language skills using one of these resources that you already have. 

Have a great remainder of the school year for all the school based SLPs! Check out my instagram: bslspeechlanguage for pictures of many of these products. 

Tamara Anderson

Guess What? SLP Lingo & Test Prep Vocabulary

My speech-language therapy students are quite accustomed to me pulling out all sorts of vocabulary activities during their weekly sessions. I wanted a new way to help them practice saying the meanings of their key speech-language therapy and English/Language Arts words. So many of my students with language based learning disabilities struggle with verbally defining their curriculum vocabulary and many of them have memory deficits as well. After all, true mastery of a concept is when they can understand and explain the concept. 

This was my motivation behind creating my Guess What? Frequently Used SLP Lingo & Test Prep Vocabulary Game. This is the 4th in this series. I wanted a fun way for my speech language kiddos to practice their curriculum vocabulary skills. This was an instant hit in my sessions!!!

To play this curriculum game, I select one semantic map from the set to focus on during a 30 minute session. 

Research shows that the use of semantic or vocabulary maps is an excellent memory and learning strategy because it helps children successfully organize and retrieve information from their brains. Score! You can read more about that here as I did research on that as well when I completed my Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree. http://bslspeechlanguage.blogspot.com/search/label/Brain%20Based%20Learning

Then I have each student in a group choose a mystery word and tell them to make sure they don’t let the others see it! 

Then I put the question prompts page on the table and a word bank. 

I love the variety of visuals available in this game because it allows you to differentiate instruction without your kids even knowing it. 
For example, some kids may just need the semantic map when it’s their turn to ask a question while others will read directly from the question prompts page or another student will just need the word bank page to formulate his/her question. 

Students will take turns asking their opponents a question to try to guess or figure out their mystery word. If someone guesses their word, they pick another word from the deck. The game continues until all the vocabulary from the selected semantic map are guessed. 

My speech-language 4th and 5th graders absolutely LOVE this game and they get SUPER competitive too which I don’t mind because they’re practicing their learning objectives. This game will work well for middle school students too! There are 5 semantic maps with 40 Frequently Used SLP Lingo and 5 semantic maps with 40 Test Prep Vocabulary. Your students will have several weeks of language intervention to practice 80 words with this curriculum game! 

You may purchase this product in my online TPT store here:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guess-What-SLP-Lingo-Test-Prep-Vocabulary-1788007

I have three other Guess What? Curriculum Games in this series that are also favorites with my speech kiddos. They are available in my TPS store as well. 

1) Guess What? Types of Literature, Story Elements, & Text Features

2) Guess What? Types of Sentences, Parts of Sentences, & Parts of 
    Speech  

3) Guess What? Figurative Language, Prefixes, & Suffixes

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guess-What-Figurative-Language-Prefixes-Suffixes-1621952

Thanks for 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

Stay current with all the latest best practices guidance in communication, language, and literacy. Join the community of those receiving complimentary materials!