Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tips & Tricks for SLPs

Today I'm pleased to be the guest blogger for Hallie over at Speech Time Fun as part of her series on Tips & Tricks for SLPs. Here are some tips about one of my favorite topics-using textbooks in speech therapy.

Do you serve middle- or high school-aged students? They are often busy and over-scheduled. How can you most effectively use their time when you pull them for speech? Use their textbooks! You can use textbooks to target ANY speech goal. Yes-along with the obvious language and artic goals, I have also used school textbooks to target fluency, voice. You can do it all with one textbook. Using textbooks helps the student make a direct connection between what they are doing speech/language therapy and what goes on in the classroom. 

This post will focus on articulation and select language goals, since these are needs that are the most common. The two academic areas I tend to target the most are science and history classes. Those are two language-laden topics that can be very difficult for our students with weak language skills. As a result, I've become very familiar with the Earth Science and American History textbooks shown below. 

Now, what to do with these in speech/language therapy?  

Articulation. Yes, this is pretty straight forward. They hunt for words containing their sounds and write them down. Making up sentences and practicing those aloud is helpful because it not only targets speech sound production, but also syntax and semantics. They can read aloud, which is my activity of choice to improve carryover. Then they can paraphrase, which allows for more opportunities to work on generalization. Click below for a FREEBIE I use with my high school students, which makes this task a lot easier AND provides them with something to take home for practice.

Language. This is, of course, a HUGE area so let's break it down. 

Semantics is probably what I target most frequently. See the photo of the vocabulary words from California's Earth Science book (published by Prentice-Hall). The words in this book are very challenging. First, we take a picture walk, which is what I had to do for the page below because I have NO idea what batholith and laccolith mean! After checking the glossary, we proceed to the chapter itself as described below.

I have the students look at the photos/charts/illustrations, etc. on each page of a particular chapter or section before we talk about definitions. What does this picture show you? Describe it to me in your own words. Important: Don't overdo your time on the picture walk. It is meant to be a quick overview. Once your student has briefly described each picture, it is time to tackle the text. Find the terms that coordinate with each picture. Read the text to your student. Have your student read the text, too. Go back to the pictures so the student can coordinate what is written with what is pictured. If there is a term with no picture, look it up on the internet. Find an illustration that coordinates with the definition. Follow safe search practices while surfing on the internet! I emphasize the visuals because students with weak language skills need to learn to use visual supports. This is also an opportunity to discuss visualization techniques. Keep in mind: it is important for the student to tell you their definition of the word using descriptions that are comfortable to them BEFORE they can answer test questions about it!

Syntax, or word order, can be easily addressed using a textbook.  You as the SLP can choose a few words at a time for the student to put into sentences. For example, if your student is working on the chapter about volcanoes, you could choose "volcano," "before," "crater," and maybe add a verb like "flow." Your student can say a sentence aloud and/or write it down. I often have them do both. Include those vocabulary words!

Morphology, or grammar, is easily addressed with a textbook. My students often need to work on subject-verb agreement. I usually begin with a task to help me discover if student is able to identify sentences that contain incorrect grammar. Similar to the Grammaticality Judgment subtest on the CASL, you can also make up sentences, including some with incorrect grammar. Your student will need to determine if the sentence is grammatically correct or not and if not they must fix it. Example: "The presidents was a strong leader." Is that correct? How would you fix it? The activity can be extended by choosing a variety of singular and plural subjects from their books to pair with verbs. It works well to give them one subject and two forms of the verb to choose from (like a word bank). 

One other skill I like to target with a history book is map-reading skills. Check out the map below. What do YOU think this map is about? In this case, the map can be used to start a discussion about various native settlements and where they were (and are) located. Yep, I love history and totally enjoy discussing anything in a history book. Can you tell I'm the daughter of a retired high school history/social studies teacher?

Of course, there is much, much more that can be done with a textbook. I teach some of my students study skills where we focus on identifying key words, the main idea (with supporting details), summarizing, note-taking, inferences, fact/opinion and more. Our students often struggle with many of these skills and I find that using their textbooks helps to tie what we do in therapy directly with their academic work. 

I encourage you to explore your students' textbooks and try using them in therapy!

You might want to follow me-I'm in the midst of developing an exciting, useful set of speech/language forms that can be paired with ANY book for an activity that will connect what we do in speech and language with the classroom!

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