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

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

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

Spring into Literacy: Teaching Phonological Awareness

Recently I have been working on phonological awareness skills with a 1st grade speech fluency student who also has difficulty with reading decoding and reading fluency. I provide services for an older elementary school student as well with language impairment that struggles immensely with basic literacy skills. From my observation, this is not an area that all speech-language therapists address. However, literacy is a part of our scope of practice according to ASHA.

These literacy areas are considered appropriate roles and responsibilities for SLPs: 1) preventing written language problems by fostering language acquisition and emergent literacy 2) identifying children at risk for reading and writing problems 3) assessing reading and writing 4) providing intervention and documenting outcomes for reading and writing 5) providing consultation to teachers, parents, students about effective literacy practices

Woah! Did you realize how in depth our responsibilities can extend in the area of literacy?  SLPs can assist with reading & written expression. Say what? I know we have a lot on our plates working with the listening and speaking components of literacy so to think about helping with reading and written expression may be a bit daunting.  After all, the resource special education teachers directly teach that for our IEP kiddos.

Nevertheless, a few years ago, I decided to get additionally training in the area of reading. I quickly observed that many of my students with speech-language impairment had a language based learning disability in the areas of reading and writing. Therefore, I completed a Georgia State University reading endorsement certification program. I learned valuable reading assessment and instruction best practices in this program that I can use when I provide consultation for students in the RTI process. It also helps me know what to do as I directly address phonological awareness with students from time to time.

So, what is phonological awareness? This is the term used to describe essential literacy skills that require a child to manipulate syllables, words, and sounds. These are auditory skills that generally begin at age three and are typically mastered by ages 6-7 if a child does not have a reading disability.

Here is what an SLP can do to teach this skill:
1) create word lists of rhyming and non-rhyming words
*Tell the child 2-3 words. Then ask, “do these words rhyme?”
*Give a child a target word and ask “What rhymes with ____?”

2) create word lists for syllable counting (segmentation) activities
*Tell and show a child a word and ask “How many syllables are in these words?”

3) create word lists with compound words and other multi-syllabic words * Have kids combine syllables to express words. For example, say “What word do you hear when I say hot…dog?

What is phonemic awareness? This is a component of phonological awareness and involves skills such as phoneme blending, phoneme segmenting, phoneme deletion, phoneme substitution.

Here are tips on how to work on these 4 skills:
*Use letters that you can manipulate such as these foam letters from Dollar Tree.

1) blend or combine sounds to say words
c-a-r, w-a-t-ch, b-o-o-k, p-e-n-c-i-l, p-l-a-y

2) verbally segment or separate sounds when given words
mom, dad, crayon, water, bear

3) verbally delete or omit a sound from a word to say a new word
say plate without /p/, say mat without the /m/

4) verbally change a sound to another sound
say /hat/, now take away /h/ and  add /b/  or change /h/ to /b/
say /sun/, now take away /s/ and  add /f/ or change /s/ to /f/

I highly recommend Hearbuilder Phonological Awareness program. It is available as an iPad or iPhone app or as paid subscription for use on the internet.

I hope you learned some new information or refreshed your memory about how to teach phonological awareness skills. These can be used in speech-language therapy sessions or shared while consulting with general education teachers as they deliver RTI interventions in the classroom.

Thanks for reading the blog today!

Tamara Anderson

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Reference: Lanza, Janet; Flahive, L. (2012) Guide to Communication Milestones. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.

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