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.

Happy Holidays and Summarization {Evidence Based Strategy}

Happy Holidays from Building Successful Lives (BSL) Speech & Language! I am writing from the comforts of home today as I am now on day 3 of recovering from the flu. As the year is quickly coming to an end, this is a great time to naturally reflect on skills that you have taught your students and the progress that they have made.  However, it is equally important that you teach students, especially students with language disorders the evidence based strategy of summarization. 
Summarization is a skill that requires an individual to synthesize or bring together information that they have heard, read, and learned in a simplified and organized manner. It may involve a verbal summary, written summary, or both. This strategy can be applied in all the content areas of language arts, math, science, social studies, and various specials or electives classes. Once students learn how to use this skill and practice it effectively, it will have positive implications in their ability to master academic standards as well as become more effective communicators.
Now educators and speech-language pathologists may think, “oh, I have my students do this all the time.” But do you really do this on a consistent basis? This is an excellent strategy that allows the teacher or SLP to check for a student’s understanding of curriculum relevant standards as well as their oral/written language skills. It is ideal that this strategy is paired with an age appropriate graphic organizer to aid a child’s recall and organization of content related to a particular topic. As children develop it is important to increase the expectations for them to have increasing depth of knowledge on a topic. A teacher or SLP may even use a rubric to progress monitor growth of summarization skills such as:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Oral-Story-Retelling-Rubric-819201
Teachers and SLPs of children in grades K-3 can have students summarize fiction text both verbally and in writing. Here are some suggestions for great holiday and winter themed books:
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell by Lucille Colandro
Footprints in the Snow by Mei Matsuoka
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Snow Dog, Go Dog by Deborah Heiligman
Teachers and SLPs of children in grades 4-8 can have students summarize non-fiction information both verbally and in writing. They can summarize main ideas and related details learned in social studies and science content. I love having my students make metacognitive maps which are a visual representation of main ideas, vocabulary, and details on a selected topic. You can read more about that here: http://www.bslspeechlanguage.com/?p=69
Here are some examples of graphic organizers that require increasing linguistic or language complexity:
K-W-L Chart
Beginning-Middle-End/Story Train Chart: 
Venn Diagram:
*interactive computer made & printable visual: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/venn-diagram-30973.html
Make sure to integrate summarization, an evidence-based strategy into your speech-language therapy sessions and classrooms on a regular basis! You will see positive gains in your students over time!
Reference: 
Better: Evidence-based Education Magazine

Published by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, Better magazine takes an evidence-based approach to figuring out what works in teaching.

  • Summarizing text: “Explicitly teach students procedures for summarizing what they read. Summarization allows students to practice concise, clear writing to convey an accurate message of the main ideas in a text. Teaching summary writing can involve explicit strategies for producing effective summaries or gradual fading of models of a good summary as students become more proficient with the skill.”   http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Better/articles/Winter2011.html
Tamara Anderson, Ed.S.. CCC-SLP
Speech-language pathlogist
Education Specialist
Writer

Literacy Website Review # 4 {Fry Sight Words}

Many
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: http://www.uniqueteachingresources.com/Fry-1000-Instant-Words.html

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:books.google.com/books?isbn=1576907570

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. http://www.k12reader.com/subject/vocabulary/fry-words/

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

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