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

5 Myths and 1 Truth about Stuttering

by Theresa Menz, M.S., CCC-SLP and Rena Dadolf, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools

Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. A diagnosis of a disorder is more than just the speech characteristics. It involves a thorough assessment of the child’s self-perception and feelings surrounding their speech.

Here are some video examples of children who stutter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rysVhDb3qKM

Myths about Stuttering:myth-fact

Myth: People who stutter are not smart.

Reality: There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence.

Myth: Nervousness causes stuttering.

Reality: Nervousness does not cause stuttering. Nor should we assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, fearful, anxious, or shy. They have the same full range of personality traits as those who do not stutter.

Myth: Stuttering can be “caught” through imitation or by hearing another person stutter.

Reality: You can’t “catch” stuttering. No one knows the exact causes of stuttering, but recent research indicates that family history (genetics), neuromuscular development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.

Myth: It helps to tell a person to “take a deep breath before talking,” or “think about what you want to say first.”

Reality: This advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.

Myth: Stress causes stuttering.

Reality: As mentioned above, many complex factors are involved. Stress is not the cause, but it certainly can aggravate stuttering.

There is no “cure” for stuttering. Speech therapy focuses on compensation strategies and understanding the nature of the disorder and progress toward fluency.

 

Source: The Stuttering Foundation , Child and Adolescent Stuttering Treatment and Activity Resource Guide, P. Ramig and D. Dodge

Does the Spanish Speaking Child in My Class Need Speech Therapy?

by Jennifer Kirschner, M.S., CCC-SLP & Rebecca Fox, M.S., CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

When native Spanish speakers are learning to speak English, many elements of their speech can sound “wrong” to native English speakers. It is important for English-speaking teachers and staff to recognize what characteristics of Spanish are normal to hear in English. Continue reading Does the Spanish Speaking Child in My Class Need Speech Therapy?

How Do I Monitor Progress?

MTSS/RTI Tier 2: How Do I Keep Data?

By Jordan Lupton and Ruth Morgan

When students are not making adequate progress receiving core instruction, teachers or support staff supplement the core instruction with additional interventions.  This level of additional support is considered MTSS Tier 2.  These interventions are delivered in a small group format, and progress monitoring data is used to make adjustments to instruction and intervention.  

But what does that progress monitoring data look like?  

In addition to academic data collection tools embedded within programs like mClass and AIMsweb, other data methods can be helpful in keeping track of student progress.  Additional sources of data include: running records, reading logs, journals, observations, topic tests, etc.  

You can also create your own Google form or document to keep track of student data. Ruth Morgan, SLP at Ephesus Elementary, wrote about how to create Google forms and spreadsheets on her blog, Chapel Hill Snippets.  Check out her step-by-step instructions here.

If low-tech forms are more your style, design your own Google document table.  To make data collection quick and user-friendly, create your form with choices that can be circled. Consider the following example of a weekly data form for a writing intervention for three students:

interventiontable

Whatever method of data collection you choose, make sure you are being mindful of exactly what data you will need to help your students achieve their goals.  The goal is not to create extra work for yourself, but to inform your instruction and identify positive changes in student performance

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Teachers: Save Your Voices!

by  Mary Kent Hill, M.S., CCC-SLP, Delia Hudson, M.Ed., CCC-SLP and Kara VanHooser, M.S., CCC-SLP

What is vocal hygiene and why is it important?

  • Vocal hygiene is a term used to describe the habits and practices that support vocal health.
  • Vocal hygiene is important because the muscles used for speech age just as the other parts of our body age.  

How do I know if I demonstrate vocal abuse?

  • All of us abuse our voices sometimes. Some examples include:
    • Screaming or yelling
    • Prolonged talking
    • Throat clearing or coughing
    • Singing in your car/shower
    • Grunting while playing sports
    • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
    • Consuming alcohol
    • Excessive whispering

How can I practice good vocal hygiene?

  • Drink lots of water and/or other non-caffeinated beverages per day.
    • Eight, 8 oz glasses of water will do the trick!
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
    • Alcohol dehydrates and causes a buildup of mucous that will eventually need to be cleared away
  • Decrease or eliminate habitual throat clearing
    • Try gargling with salt-water in the morning if you have a buildup of mucous.
  • Try to use a conversational level of speech
    • Face your speaker and try not to yell or whisper
  • Don’t smoke!
  • Avoid environmental irritants such as strong smells and allergens.
  • Avoid spicy food
  • Limit excessive talking and singing when your voice is hoarse or tired
  • Remember to breathe!

Sources:

http://www.entforyou.com/docs/Vocal%20Hygiene.pdf