Say What? Listening Comprehension Progress Monitoring

Speech-language pathologists and educators know how important effective listening comprehension is for school and life success. Many children who have difficulty learning academic concepts and underlying language concepts struggle with listening comprehension. Active listening is an essential skill for children at school, home, and during everyday activities in their community. Often times, teachers notice when children are having a hard time listening, remembering details, and understanding what they are taught. The first thing to rule out or confirm is if children with suspected difficulty have hearing loss. After that, it is necessary to determine if children are having difficulty focusing and comprehending what is said, focusing only, or if they are focused but are still not comprehending what is said.

Children who have significant attention difficulties and truly have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may or may not also struggle with listening comprehension on a consistent basis. It will depend on if they have a system in place to manage their ADD/ADHD symptoms. Other children may be easily distracted or zone out in class due to medical needs (e.g. absence seizures) or social/emotional issues. It is important that service providers consider the possible reasons for a child’s behavior and academic performance. Other children may have difficulty with comprehending oral information because they don’t understand the vocabulary or are unable to make meaning of long sentences. Some children may also have difficulty with short term auditory memory and therefore struggle with remembering details during listening tasks.

In the school setting, speech-language pathologists are frequently asked to consult on cases when children are struggling to follow verbal directions and comprehend verbal information from their teachers. Listening is one of 4 overall components of essential literacy skills for school and life success. The other 3 areas are speaking, reading, and writing abilities. This is the reason why I decided to create a listening comprehension progress monitoring tool. Educators may use this informal assessment to evaluate children in preschool-5th grade. It will provide a quick overview of listening abilities of young children. Then teachers can select targeted intervention (RTI) to teach struggling students. Next they can monitor their progress by repeating relevant portions of the Listening Comprehension Progress Monitoring tool after children receive intervention for several weeks.

Similarly, speech-language pathologists can administer this tool to students already receiving speech-language therapy services. It can be given at the beginning of the school year for SLPs who work in the school system. It may also be given to children receiving private speech-language therapy services prior to receiving intervention in the area of listening comprehension. Use the portions of the Listening Comprehension Progress Monitoring tool that you determine is most appropriate for each student. There are basic 1 step directions, directions with embedded concepts (spatial, qualitative, quantitative, temporal, conditional), 1 sentence level questions, 3 sentence level questions, 5 fiction passages, and 5 non-fiction passages included in this product.

After several speech-language therapy or  teacher intervention sessions, read aloud the same sections previously administered in this informal assessment tool. Each part of this tool may be given 3 additional times to monitor children’s progress over an extended period of time. If you prefer, you can administer a different fiction and/or non-fiction passage from this tool to monitor students’ progress after receiving speech-language therapy or Response to Intervention (RTI).

I recommend that you note observations and background information on this tool to help rule out and/or confirm potential related contributing factors to listening comprehension difficulty. Remember to note:

1) Hearing- within normal limits or not within normal limits (failed hearing screening, conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss)

2) Medical concerns- per parent report/file review (e.g. absence seizures, etc.)

3)Possible short term auditory memory difficulties- due to no response or incorrect responses to verbal instructions

3) Behavioral signs- distracted, appears to day dream, says “what” frequently, blank stare, appears frustrated, presents as lacking confidence, inattentive

You can see a preview of this product and gain direct access to this digital download in my TPT curriculum store.

If an SLP or teacher thinks certain children may have short term auditory memory weakness, they should receive an informal evaluation and RTI in that area. HearBuilder has a web based intervention program for auditory memory that may be beneficial to remediate children’s weak skills. It is also available as an app in the iTunes store. Private practice speech-language pathologists can also target remediating auditory memory difficulties as well.

If you have any questions or concerns about children with listening comprehension difficulties or with this tool, you may leave me a comment below or contact me here.

 

Balancing SLP Life as a School Based SLP {10 Success Tips}

 

The job of a speech-language pathologist truly varies based on her work setting and it is essential to know how to skillfully balance and complete tasks. For SLPs in the school setting, I have learned ways that make it easier to get the job done with excellence. After all, you need to have the energy, materials, and enthusiasm to provide your students with engaging speech language therapy sessions.

If school based SLPs only had to complete evaluations and instruct students during therapy sessions, SLP life would be MUCH easier. However, you may start to feel like a professional juggler once you throw in attending special education eligibility meetings,  IEP meetings, re-evaluation meetings, data collection, writing reports, medicaid billing, team meetings, etc.  I have discovered 10 helpful tips that will ensure that you are effectively balancing your SLP life as a school based SLP. No, I don’t have a magic wand to make your paperwork or computer work disappear. Sorry…so sorry. The good news is that I have 10 success tips that will help you manage the therapy, paperwork, and meeting aspects of your job.
THERAPY TIPS:
1) Gather seasonal/holiday themed materials on Thursdays and Fridays before the season changes or upcoming holiday. Keep them in an accessible place that is near your therapy table.
*Fiction/non-fiction books (with companions/related activities)
*Speech-language activities from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT)
*Token boards (fall, winter, spring, summer, holidays)
*Game boards
*Sports games (football, basketball, soccer, baseball)
*Seasonal worksheets for mixed articulation/language goals
*iPad activities
2) Vary activities in monthly sessions to maintain engagement.
Students can sense when you are not interested or excited about   an activity. It’s okay to switch activities from one that you initially   planned on using that day. Remember to try your best to make sessions meaningful, educationally relevant, yet fun!
PAPERWORK TIPS:
3) Use progress monitoring forms for articulation, speech fluency, and language objectives.
* Store master copies in a binder near therapy table.
* Put forms in students’ group therapy folder so that you can easily
   use them on data collection days (e.g. I organize attendance
   sheets, data sheets, therapy printables in folders per group).
* Remember that you do NOT have to take therapy data in every
   session!
4) Schedule time to write IEPs and evaluation reports.
It will hold you accountable with getting paperwork done with less stress. If you didn’t get to complete what you planned, just scratch it out in your planner and re-assign it to another day’s task list.
5) Arrive to work early or stay late to complete documentation.
I think it’s important to set boundaries between SLP work life and personal life. I recommend that you avoid bringing home student files, IEP work, evaluation reports, or medicaid billing.
If you have children, you may try arranging for extended childcare
hours 2 days a week so that you can arrive early or stay late at work to complete documentation. You may be surprised how a slight adjustment will improve your efficiency.
EVALUATION & MEETING TIPS:
6) Schedule daily tasks in your planner.
Write down meeting dates and times. Note changes to usual schedule such as testing student vs. typical therapy session.
7) Schedule time for lunch (social meeting).
I think that it is important to give yourself at least 30 minutes that does not involve you eating at your desk while checking emails or doing other paperwork.
8) Schedule time to test students for upcoming speech/language screenings, comprehensive evaluations, and re-evaluations.
Contact SLP testers in your district if they are available to help lighten your testing load.
9) Learn to politely say no.
I know that you may want to help serve as a team member on special school projects, committees, and clubs. However, you most likely don’t have time to attend these extra meetings.  It’s perfectly ok to say no without feeling guilty.
Instead, you can attend after school events (e.g. concerts, literacy night) to support your students and build rapport with families when you can.
10) Request to be excused from some meetings.
With parental permission, you can be excused from IEP meetings. Since SLPs typically have high caseloads and often must cancel therapy sessions to attend meetings, it is appropriate to be excused from attending an IEP meeting. However, you should always use your professional judgement when asking to be excused. This will need to be documented in the IEP online documentation or meeting minutes. It is best to send home speech therapy updates and proposed goals & objectives in advance when possible.
Check out my TPT store for time-saving theme based activities and progress monitoring tools. These resources are engaging therapy materials and will simplify the data collection process with your students!
Thanks for reading the blog. These tips help me tremendously during the school year. I’m now in the final stretch of the school year, but first it’s time for SPRING BREAK!
Tamara Anderson

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

January 2016 Sale-bration! 1/20th-1/21st

I have some great news to share! My Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) curriculum store will be on sale this Wednesday and Thursday! I am joining in on the fun for the Start Your Year Inspired TPT sale! You can save 28 % when you enter the sale code, START16, when you checkout. This is a great way to gain immediate access to some great speech-language therapy and English/Language Arts products. Don’t miss out on purchasing my specially created resources if you haven’t already!! Make sure that you follow my blog this week because it is also my 3 year Blogiversary and there will be other EXCITING announcements!!!!
It’s always great to have new activities to use in speech-language therapy and time-saving progress monitoring tools too! As busy SLPs or educators, it’s helpful when we have a variety of effective materials to improve the communication, language, and literacy skills of children! Thanks for reading my blog today. Until next time…
Visit my curriculum store here!
Tamara Anderson

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