8 Tips for Reading Comprehension

 

by Jessie Mewshaw, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

Engaging students with language disorders in literacy activities can be challenging. These students may struggle with the pace of reading, comprehending vocabulary, understanding figurative language and inferred story components, and maintaining attention to a task that they perceive to be very difficult.

Here are 8 strategies SLPs use to make the reading process more engaging for students with language delays and disorders:

  1. Discuss the book title and cover illustration – make inferences with the student about the story before reading.
  • Example: “The title of this book is Gabby Is Hungry. What do you think this story might be about?”
  1. Preview the book through a “picture walk” before you begin reading – this prepares the student for what they might encounter when reading the book and allows the student to make inferences based on illustrations.
  • Example: “I see in this picture that the little girl is wearing shorts and sandals. I wonder what season it is…”
  1. Pause frequently during reading to discuss illustrations, define new vocabulary, explore figurative language, and check in for understanding.
  • Example: “The boy ‘exclaimed.’ Huh, I wonder what that means. Let’s look at his face in this picture and figure out how he might be feeling.”
  1. Ask students to draw comparisons between the book and their own life experiences.
  • Example: “The dog seems really scared. Can you remember a time when you felt scared?”
  1. Don’t ask all the questions – encourage the student to ask questions, too.
  2. When a student struggles with decoding and/or reading fluency, comprehension of information is sacrificed – re-read what the student has read to give them a chance to comprehend the text without the added pressure of decoding and reading fluency.
  3. Make reading fun! Add character voices, make sound effects, use props, etc.
  4. Praise, praise, praise – students are more likely to try a difficult task when they are praised for their successes and hard work.
  • Example: “I love that you read that whole book with me! I can’t wait to read together again.”
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Accountable Talk® for Everyone

“Turn and Talk” for Everyone – Free Resources

by Sarah Smith, M.S., CCC-SLP

Across our school district many of our teachers use Accountable Talk®, “turn and talk”, “think, pair, share”, etc.  to promote student engagement, understanding, and accountability. According to the Accountable Talk® Sourcebook (University of Pittsburgh, 2010), “Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning…All students have a right to engage in Accountable Talk® discussions, not just the ‘best and brightest,’ nor only those who are struggling in school.”

For some of our students, “turn and talk” can be difficult. Not only does “turn and talk” involve discussing content but it also involves the social skills of conversation. Here at Rashkis Elementary School, our team used visual supports and  Peer Mediated Instruction and Intervention, described in The Power of a Peer by Jordan Lupton M.S. CCC-SLP, to make “turn and talk” more accessible for all students.

Here are our visuals: this download includes leveled flip books designed for the peer and the targeted student to take them through the steps of a “turn and talk.” Enjoy!

Accountable Talk® is a registered trademark of the University of Pittsburgh

Are you Using “Myself” Correctly?

by Beth Burns, M.S., CCC-SLP

Misusing “myself” is a mistake people make by complicating their writing structure needlessly.  They think that using “myself” makes them sound smart.  Unfortunately, it is not smart; It is wrong.  Are people afraid to use “me?”

“Myself” is never used interchangeably with “I” or “me.”  Countless colleagues and friends have written something like, “Please feel free to contact Sylvia or myself.” In the preceding sentence, “me” is the correct word.

Another common mistake, “We (Donald and myself) arranged a meeting with the team.” In this sentence, “I” should have been chosen.

“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun.  Reflexive pronouns refer to the subject.  “Myself” should only be used when a sentence also contains a first person pronoun such as, “I,” “me,” or “my.”

Here are some examples of correct uses of “myself.”

I did this myself.

I don’t particularly like exercising by myself.

I kept all of the leftovers for myself.

Show readers how smart you really are by using “myself” correctly.

 

NC State Salary Schedules Released as NC Legislature Reaches Budget Compromise

by Beth Burns, M.S., CCC-SLP, Lead Speech Language Pathologist

The NC House and Senate announced Monday afternoon that they have developed a compromise budget.  Both sides will vote this week and send to the governor.  Because the House and Senate have veto-proof majorities, this budget will in all likelihood become reality.

The charts attached are the state salary schedules for Bachelor’s level teachers.  Local supplements are not included.  For speech-language pathologists and audiologists to calculate their new salaries:

  • Add 5 to the years of experience shown (0=5, 5=10, 10=15, 15=20, 20=25)
  • Add 7.5% to the top salary if you have 25+ years of experience
  • Add 10% for your Master’s Degree
  • Add $126 if you have an Advanced Degree
  • Add another $126 if you have a PhD
  • Add local supplement (differs in every school district)

The calculation is a monthly salary.  Multiply by 10 if you are a 10-month employee.

There is some language regarding yearly bonuses for teachers (we assume SLPs and audiologists) with over 25 years of experience.

We’re on Break for the Summer

Thanks, everyone for a great school year!  2016-2017 is in the history books.  We’re going to rest, relax, travel, and develop some great new therapy ideas.  (We will also have some new team members in August!)  We’re not saying, “Goodbye,” to Wendy Lybrand and Marianne Boger; we’re saying, “Until next time!”  Tune in to some great articles about speech and language in September!

Until next time!

10 Things to Do When You Don’t Understand Young Children’s Speech

 

Say WHAT?!

By Sarah Michaels, Heather Miller, Phyllis Norwood, Heather Petrusa, and Amy Samuels, Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

There are only SO many times you can say, “My ears are old, could you repeat that sweetie?”  Here are ten tips for helping maintain the confidence of your VERY unintelligible student. If you don’t understand the child’s response or question…..

  • Ask them to say it ‘another way: Say, “Can you use some other words to help me understand?”
  • Ask them to “show you” by pointing to something in the classroom or in a book.
  • Have the child use a gesture to help you understand. Encourage them to use speech along with a gesture or sign.
  • Think about the type of questions you are asking your student. If a child is highly unintelligible, it is better to ask a choice question in which you are giving them a choice between two answers. (e.g., Did you stay at home for your birthday or go somewhere special?) Unless you know the context, avoid open ended questions.
  • Have parents share a “talk-about” after the weekend regarding important personal experiences (e.g., Grandma came to visit) so that you can converse and better understand the child’s spontaneous speech. Items parents send can include visuals from the weekend (e.g., photos, artifacts in a bag).
  • Check with parents ahead of time about questions you may ask at circle time or during thematic units so that you can anticipate and understand children’s responses.
  • Learn common words that students will use frequently in their speech including people (e.g., siblings, grandparents), places, pets, toys, and characters.
  • Write down phonetically what it sounded like the child said and the context and check with parents. Parents, siblings, and other children are good at decoding the child’s speech.
  • Work with the family and school team to rehearse phrases/sentences prior to a “sharing activity.” Rehearsals may include reducing language to manageable chunks so that they can be understood (e.g., “I saw the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie.” reduced to “Watched Sponge Bob movie”)
  • Ask another child or sibling (e.g. if in the same class) what child said. Children are adept at deciphering the meaning of what child is trying to say ; )

Norwood wins ECSS Staff of Year Award

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Speech-Language Pathologists are pleased to announce that in her first year serving Carrboro Elementary, Phyllis Norwood, M.A., CCC-SLP won the Exceptional Children’s and Student Services (ECSS) staff member of the year award for that school.  Norwood received a $50 gift for her award.

Photo:  Phyllis Norwood, right, pictured with Jennifer Radzik, Occupational Therapist, and winner of the Pre-K/Headstart award.

Facts about Tweens and Teens Who Need an SLP

by Rolesha Harris, M. Ed., CCC-SLP, Wendy Lee, M.Ed.,CCC-SLP, and  Rhonda Maiani, M.A.,CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools)

There are a select number of 12 to 18-year-olds who continue to be eligible for speech- language therapy in the schools. Because students in middle and high school are expected to use advanced/meta-linguistic skills, write complex sentences, follow grammatical rules, infer and comprehend figurative language, the support of an SLP is sometimes necessary to access their curriculum.

Speech-Language goals may be related to reading comprehension, vocabulary, written expression, higher-level reasoning, organizational and sequencing skills, problem-solving, and social/pragmatic language skills.

The SLP and the exceptional children’s teacher often collaborate and determine the student’s areas of need and the academic goals that need to be targeted.  The therapist will work in the classroom or co-teach in the student’s various classrooms or pull the student in a small group or one-on-one sessions to target these specific goals. The frequency of service delivery will vary depending on the severity of the student’s needs.

The SLP supports the student by collaborating and consulting with all of the student’s teachers. As students get older, the SLP does not focus on one particular goal but rather supports the student across environments. For example, the SLP may provide support while studying for a specific test, completing a project or end of semester assignment, creating visual/graphic organizers to improve comprehension of class related material, or provide supplemental materials to aid in improving the understanding of specific concepts presented in class.  The Speech-Language Pathologist can provide information to teachers regarding how the student’s receptive or expressive language disorder is directly impacting their ability to perform in the classroom as well as where some of the student’s learning breakdowns may be occurring.

Speech therapy in middle and high school can also present with many challenges. Adolescents are “in the thick” of the maturation process.  Moodiness, raging hormones, and self-concept/self-esteem problems are just a few of the difficulties our students face on a daily basis and may make working with our teens challenging.

SLP’s strive to design programs and choose materials that are both motivating and enjoyable for the students while simultaneously helping them learn the curriculum.

The support services provided by an SLP in middle and high school is essential for the important transition from middle and high school to employment and adult life.

Kara VanHooser Wins Award for Excellence

Kara's Family
VanHooser at the awards ceremony with her husband, Mike Dodge and daughter, Grace Dodge

Kara VanHooser, M.S., CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, received the 2017 Lara Jane Parker Award for Excellence along with two other winners.  VanHooser works primarily at McDougle Elementary School in Chapel Hill where she has over 20 years experience and serves as the Exceptional Children’s team lead.  The Lara Jane Parker Award Program shared,”Kara is proactive in engaging a child’s whole team, including families, private therapists, and physicians, to meet the student’s communication and other needs.  She organizes communication during reverse inclusion groups, where students from general ed classrooms join students in the adapted curriculum classrooms for activities promoting social and academic interactions.  Kara invites politicians to meet her students to better understand the challenges they face.  She is in regular contact with them to discuss issues that affect students like hers.”

The Lara Jane Parker Awards are sponsored by the New Voices Foundation (newvoices.org), a non-profit in North Carolina whose mission is to help children with communication challenges maximize their learning potential.