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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ready for a Great New Year?

I just want to post a quick thank you to all of you who read my blog. Thank you for being here.  Know that any time you have a question, please comment and ask. I'll always answer.
Have a safe and happy New Year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bring on the Books!

I read somewhere that a preschooler spends an average of 5 seconds attending to the words during a read-aloud session. 

This is why it is so important to read story books with good illustrations that relate directly to the text.  And to spend time looking at, pointing out, describing, and building language with those pictures.

Over time, we move from labeling the pictures to describing them, predicting based on them, and retelling through them.  

With preschoolers we often begin with just labels.  By kindergarten age we define those items we’ve labeled by category; i.e. a duck is a bird.  And for 1st graders we add defining by attribute; i.e. a duck is a bird that swims or a tiger is a big cat with stripes.

(Affiliate link following)  
One book whose illustrations mirror and amplify the text is Stone Soup.  There are multiple versions of this old favorite, but I always use the old classic by Marcia Brown.

In all of the versions I’ve seen the illustrations directly refer to the text, its by its as the stone soup is made by the soldiers and villagers.  Using the illustrations to retell the story is easy, as students follow along with the pictures.

With younger students I focus on the spatial concept vocabulary as the villagers retrieve each item to make the soup.   

I can also work on categorization of different food groups, as well as talking about what goes in soup, and what does not.

I play BINGO with the vocabulary, as well as dominoes
With slightly older students I focus on sequencing and retelling.

To get you started, here is a sheet of dominoes and 2 BINGO cards to work on the vocabulary in this classic story.

Remember to keep on talking!

felt effect graphics from Keeping Life Creative, Symbol Stix from News2You 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What's My Second Loudest Battle Cry? Literacy for All (Right After Communication for All)

I did a guest post this past week for Education to the Core.  In it, I talk about one of my favorite subjects - literacy skills for all students; including those with moderate to severe disabilities.  You might want to check it out here.

In school districts, I spend time with teachers showing them how to adapt literature that is age or grade appropriate for their students.  I also create a lot of resources that are adaptations of primary storybooks, and have been adding some Middle School books recently, as well.

By coincidence I’ve just finished a bigger guided reading unit - the first of many, I hope - that adapts a simple folktale for students with a range of skills and needs and provides not just language skills activities like vocabulary, sequencing and retelling; but also word and sentence reading and working with words activities beyond what I usually include in my book adaptations.
I thought I’d give you a little sneak peek here. 

I try to cover a lot of ground and give SLPs and teachers as much background information as I can. I talk about the hierarchy of comprehension questions and Bloom’s Taxonomy, making predictions and answering Wh-questions, and provide a range of “I Can..” posters for your room.

I include vocabulary activities for words that are important and maybe unfamiliar in both the story text and informational text we create about the background topic, some simple reading and predictable chart writing activities, and a variety of sequencing and retelling opportunities.

In addition, Word Work activities include counting words and sounds, sound blending and segmenting, manipulating sounds (changing initial sounds in words), rhyming and word families, initial sound sorting and recognition.

I am hopeful that by expanding the materials I usually present with my book adaptations I can provide more ideas for teachers and SLPs for how to work on literacy and language skills with stories, as well as save them a lot of time by having all those things ready-made.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What Can You Do With a Good Book? Let's Talk About It!

I have always been a sucker for a good book.  As a kid I read non-stop.  I actually had one teacher who told me I was going to ruin my eyes.  Another - a Reading Class teacher - kept running out of books to give me.

Fortunately, I managed to pass that on to my own kids.  My adult daughter's favorite part of graduating from Law School this year?  Time to read books again!
And my hyperactive son would sit still for hours for one thing only - being read to.

When I was a school district SLP in Massachusetts, I worked in a town that had a fabulous independent children's bookstore.  I spent many hours and a few small fortunes there; buying both for my own kids and for my caseload.

I worked mainly with the students in the Language-Based classrooms and almost all of my intervention was literature-based.

I know of many other SLPs who also use children's storybooks in intervention.  A brand new post from Speech Sprouts talks about some of her favorite books for therapy; including Press Here.

If you follow this blog, you know I often talk about books I've used and activities I've created for them for repeated shared readings to build language and literacy skills.  I also include picture communication icons for students who need visual cues in activities, as well as a core word-based communication board for the specific story.

Last week's post featured Max and Mo: Let's Build a Snowman and activity pages for sequencing skills.
This week I thought I'd talk a little bit about You Will Be My Friend by Peter Brown. (This post contains an affiliate link).

In this book, Lucille Beatrice Bear wakes up one day and sets out to make a new friend.  There are lots of opportunities for both laughs and lessons as you read about her friend-making strategies.  And of course a lesson as the end.

I take the time to stop after each episode and talk with students about how Lucille tried to make friends with each animal in turn, what happened, what went wrong.  I work with students with significant disabilities these days, so this takes some time, support, visual cues, and scaffolding.
I provide lots of visual cues and cause-effect maps.

If you want to check out the book, click on the Amazon link above.  It's a big hit!
If you'd like to look at my resource to go with the book, click on this link to go to my TPT store to see it.
And if you'd just like to try my comprehension questions for the story, just drag these from this post onto your desktop.

Until next week, Keep on Talking!