#029: How to Target Phonological Awareness Goals

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In this week’s episode I got to sit down with Nicole Allison, an SLP who works with students from preschool to high school and authors the blog Speech Peeps, where she shares resources, activities, and ideas that engage students *and* save busy SLPs time.

For the last two weeks we’ve been talking about getting started with literacy and phonological awareness — now we’re going to tie it all together really nicely with a conversation about strategies for targeting PA In therapy sessions.

There’s so much goodness packed in this hour, and you’ll walk away with a new confidence in your abilities to write goals that target phonological awareness, strategically select progress monitoring assessments, and choose appropriate (and effective!) therapy activities to tackle those PA goals.

So grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a chai tea latte!) put your feet up, and listen in.

Key Takeaways

– What led Nicole to learn more about phonological awareness
– The whole child approach
– Working on articulation alongside other skills
– Research around pre-reading → Targeting PA improves articulation
– Tips for identifying students who might benefit from this approach
– When the best time to start therapy is
– Foundational skills required by the student
– Choosing activities and building on skills
– How Nicole approaches assessments + progress monitoring
– How to write goals + give examples
– Nicole’s favorite (fun!) treatment activities
– The importance of communication, and the research that supports it

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Gillon (2005) article
Nicole’s blog post
– Find Nicole on Facebook and Instagram
Nicole’s Phonological Awareness Resources

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Marisha: Hi there and welcome to the SLP Now podcast. I am so incredibly excited to have Nicole Allison on the podcast today. And if you haven't heard of Nicole Allison, I'll just give a quick intro.

Marisha: She is a speech language pathologist who currently works with preschool through high school students. And she has presented at local, state, and national conventions on topics related to speech and language pathology. And her presentations are always a big hit, so I cannot wait for her to dive into all things phonological awareness today.

Marisha: But she creates amazing resources that are incredibly engaging and helps us save time, which we definitely need with our busy workload. And she's also the author of the blog Speech Peeps, and she shares tons of practical activities and ideas for us to use there. So without further ado, I am excited to welcome Nicole Allison.

Marisha: So before we dive into all of the practical things related to phonological awareness, I'm curious if you'd like to tell us a little bit about your story, and also leading into what led you to learn more about phonological awareness.

Nicole Allison: Sure. So thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be on this podcast. I've been listening more and more to podcasts, so it's just such an honor to be here myself. And I just thank you so much for having me.

Nicole Allison: So I actually in college, it's interesting, I was a math major. So I was on the opposite side of the brain and I've always really liked the numbers and just how things fit together with math. But then I started taking some courses and realized no, this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I attended a seminar on speech language pathology while I was in college and I actually had had speech therapy when I was younger for inaudible when I was in fifth grade. So I was one of those later kids. But it's always just peaked my interest and I went to a seminar and I just absolutely fell in love with this profession. So I switched over to the other side of the brain I feel like language, and I've never really looked back.

Nicole Allison: But in regards to phonological awareness, for years I've been coming up with ideas on how to integrate working on multiple skills at the same time. And I've always been drawn to the sort of whole child approach to learning. So instead of drawing a line around certain skills, like for example, only working on articulation or only on increasing vocabulary, only working on phonological awareness. Really looking at the whole picture and how we can integrate these sort of areas together.

Nicole Allison: So I'm fully aware, not all of the skills work this way. But I think especially for goals like articulation, it's just very easy to incorporate them into other skill areas.

Nicole Allison: And I was thinking about it because this is really what our kids are expected to do outside our therapy rooms. No one is simply asking them to say words with their sound in isolation or their sound and sentences, but instead they're needing to learn these skills while reading out loud in class or while talking to a friend on the monkey bars. So I've always been drawn to working on articulation while working on other skills, because of this whole child mentality that I've had.

Nicole Allison: So then with that background, it led me to start digging into the link between articulation and phonological awareness skills. And when I talk about phonological awareness skills, I'm talking about those pre-reading his skills that are so important for literacy. Things like repeating words and sentences, rhyming, adding sounds, deleting sounds, manipulating sounds. All these skills that are so really the foundation a child needs before they even read their first word.

Nicole Allison: So interestingly enough, these are also the same skills that many of our children with articulation and phonology disorders have difficulty with, which I found really interesting. So when we talk about those phonological awareness and articulation, I don't think that many of us are super surprised that there's a strong link between the two. But what's interesting though is that studies are now determining that directly working on phonological awareness is also shown to concurrently increase speech intelligibility and improve articulation sounds.

Nicole Allison: So there was a study done, and they just worked on, they took some kids that had both phonological awareness deficits and articulation deficits. And they simply worked on phonological awareness skills. And then at the end, they re-examined and they found that even without working directly on those articulation skills, those kids had improved with both their phonological awareness skills and their articulation skills.

Nicole Allison: So this is just really pretty exciting for us, I feel like. And it really makes sense. I have an example that I think really highlights this benefit. So I say suppose I told you to tell me about your day about, but while speaking, to substitute every R sound with W sound. Do you think you could do that Marisha?

Marisha: That would be very tricky.

Nicole Allison: It would be really hard. And I think even for grown SLP, it would be extremely difficult because we're so used to the way that we talk. Okay. And this is what we ask our kids to do all the time. But, suppose I handed you a typed paragraph now and told you to read it, substituting every R sound for a W sound. So it'd be tricky still, but I feel like it's much more doable with the visual because now we can see the sounds on the page, we can see how they form the words. And this is why once kids begin working on reading, and sounds, and letters, I typically see a huge increase with their speech intelligibility and articulation skills. Because now they have that visual, and they can literally see that S in the word stop instead of trying to produce sounds and speech with any frame of reference. So really what the phonological awareness skills do when we're working on those phonological awareness skills, they provide those concrete visuals and that frame of reference for our students with speech down difficulties. So it really works well together I think.

Marisha: Oh my goodness, that makes so much sense. I've never thought of it in that way, but I've seen this happen so many times with so many students. And I love that example that you gave. Because I'm definitely going to put this in my pocket for parent meetings, because I've used this approach as well. But I love asking the questions that you asked, how hard would it be to replace sounds as you're speaking compared to when you're reading? And you're so right. Having that visual and that reference makes it that much easier. That really helps break it down. Thank you.

Nicole Allison: Yeah, yeah, I've used that thing. I think it does click with parents in meetings where especially with preschoolers, if before they're reading, if we can incorporate some of those sounds and the letters. I tell them that is going to help their speech so much because I give that example and it just clicks like oh yeah, that would be a visual then.

Marisha: I love it. Thank you. And then I think I also wanted to emphasize too that study that you mentioned. It sounds like there's several studies. It's not just one study that has documented the impact of targeting phonological awareness on articulation.

Marisha: We were talking about this before we went live, but I was with a second grader a couple of years ago who was really struggling with articulation and reading skills. And I had taken a couple of courses on phonological awareness, and I knew enough to look into assessing it. And then I gave him an assessment and I realized that oh man, he's missing a lot of these skills. And I started looking into the research more, and I came across one of the articles that you were talking about that showed that just targeting ... because I wanted to have some evidence behind what I was doing since it was still fairly new.

Marisha: But it's amazing. I feel like, I don't know, I always get really excited when I find things like that in the literature because you're so right about that whole child approach. And we have so limited time in therapy, and a lot of times our students are struggling in a lot of areas. It's not just those few sounds. It's impacting other areas, and the same is true with language. So it's always so incredibly exciting when we can find ways to work smarter as SLPs and target multiple skills at a time. So I'm excited to dive into how we could do this. So do you have any tips when it comes to identifying students who might benefit from this approach?

Nicole Allison: Yeah. So for me, personally I found that kindergarten is typically the best starting age for this approach. So the skills themselves are pre-reading skills. The students aren't required to read anything. But they do need to have a basic understanding of sounds. And this approach also works best if the student is able to say at least the sound at the word level. I'll give a few examples of what this looks like.

Nicole Allison: So say we have a student working on L sounds. I'd say the simplest level to do is oral repetition. That's just me saying a sentence containing their sound, and them repeating it back. And I do like to write it down, because even if they can't read, again that visual is just really beneficial for them. So I would write out just a simple sentence like my leg hurts or the lamp is on. And I'd have them point to their L sound and say the sentence, and they just repeat it back. And it's just getting them familiar with where their sound falls in that sentence and how it relates to the words, how it just all structures together.

Nicole Allison: So I just have them point to their L sound in that sentence. And they just repeat it back to me because it just gets them used to how the sounds work together to form words, and then the words are in sentences, and just all works together. So that's basically where I start.

Nicole Allison: And then, I would move on to the phonemes. Actually first, sorry. I'm going to move onto the syllables. So syllables are easier to hear for kids. You have the clapping. I remember doing that in school, and they still do that in school. But what I would do is I give them a word and I would segment the word first, like lad-der. And they would just have to put it together and say ladder. Or Ju-lie. And they would just have to be hearing those sounds to put that word together and form that word.

Nicole Allison: You can even once they do that, it's easier than for me to say a blended word and for them then to segment it. So if I said reptile, then it's easier for them to go rep-ti-le, and just segment those sounds. And it gets them used to breaking down those syllables within the word. After that, the hierarchy is sort of phonemes and just breaking down the sounds.

Nicole Allison: So usually what I want them to do is identify a sound position for me in a word. So I might say, "Repeat the word that I say and then tell me the sound that you hear at the beginning of the word. Luck. What sound do you hear at the beginning of that word?" Or, "What sound do you hear at the beginning of dollar?" It doesn't always have to be the L sound at the beginning, but it's in the word and they are just figuring out where is the sound that I'm hearing at the beginning of the word.

Nicole Allison: And then we go on to just blending sounds to form words. So this is sort of the syllables, but now it's broken down even more. So I could give them the word lad and just go "lad." And they would have to form that together to form lad. So they're getting used to just hearing those sounds and how they form that word. If I said, "Girl," and then they'd just say girl. And then we'd switched.

Nicole Allison: Then I was doing this teacher thing and I say, "Now you're the teacher, you tell me a word blended together and I will segment it." So we just go back and forth, and the kids just really enjoy this.

Nicole Allison: After blending sounds, once they can blend in segments, then we can start manipulating those sounds. And that gets more challenging. But this is where I feel like it's so beneficial, this kind of therapy. So we can start changing the words and I can have them add sounds and delete sounds, and then just actually change the sounds. So I could say something like, "Say the word line and now say it without lie." Or, "Say the word life and now change the 'L' to a 'W.'" And it'd be wife. Or, "Say the word load. Now change the 'D' to a 'F' sound," it'd be loaf. So you can change all the sounds. And again, they're not reading anything. So this is just them auditory, just listening to these sounds and changing them.

Nicole Allison: Then we can also do some rhyming and things like that. I think a lot of people associate, they know rhyming goes with phonological awareness. So you can just simply, usually where I start is having them recognize if words rhyme. And then going on to if I give them three words and then they are selecting the two words that rhyme, and then finally generating rhymes themselves.

Nicole Allison: So that's that the hierarchy that I use. It's not research based or anything. But it just starts with that, again, that oral repetition. And then syllables. And then phonings and rhyming. So that's just what I do, I found it really beneficial to especially like I said, those adding sounds or deleting sounds, or even changing the sounds and words. So yeah, that's what I do here and how I target.

Marisha: Yeah, that's super helpful. And I love getting to hear the different strategies that different SLPs use, and you gave so many great examples. And I'm curious in terms of when you're working through this with a student, do you work through the hierarchy in one session, or however many sessions the student needs? You would just work on the repetition, or are you working on multiple skills at the same time?

Nicole Allison: Yeah, that's a great question. Usually, I just try to focus on one skill at a time and then the next session will go through and I just kind of mark where we were in the hierarchy and move on to the next one. If they were doing well or maybe they might need some more practice on just the oral repetition. So what gets tricky I think, and it's good to challenge the kids is at that phoning level to then incorporate sometimes maybe especially if they're advanced and they can do this kind of thing, to do adding phonemes and deleting phonemes, so that would really get their brain working. And they really have to think about the word. So I usually, to answer your question, I usually just target one specific skill at a time.

Nicole Allison: But another reason that I love this approach, it's just I feel like it makes sense in that we're not just feeding them the words. They're actually having to really think about them, think about where their sound as in the word. And it gives their brain a little bit of an extra challenge for them instead of just saying the word, repeating back the word, or anything like that. They have to think about it.

Marisha: Yeah, I love that. And especially when you get to the sound manipulation, even as an adult, sometimes the task, I really have to think about it. Maybe that says something about my working memory or lack thereof. It gets challenging. And I think, especially if we're providing them with the supports, I think students like a little bit of a challenge like that. And especially if we can explain the why behind it and tell them, because this is amazing because there's so many whys behind it. It will help them make progress on their speech goals, but it also helps with their reading. If they're seeing us, it's probably something that they struggle with. So I think if we can explain the why behind that, there'll be a lot of that motivation too.

Nicole Allison: Definitely.

Marisha: Cool. And then in terms of how you actually implement this, because I've gotten to see some of your resources. And it looks like you're not just picking random words, right?? How do you put this together in terms of how you select the words?

Nicole Allison: Sure. Yeah. So I have a resource that has all these sounds broken up, but this is something that you can easily do with any sound. So I just make sure that the sound is in the word. It shouldn't always be in the initial position actually. And just repeating the word, they're going to be saying that sound. So I always have them repeat the word. For example, if we go back to say life, now change the L to a W. They're going to be saying that life. And then they're going to be saying wife, which doesn't have the target sound in it. But they're always going to at least be saying a word with a target sound in it least one time.

Nicole Allison: But even words at the end, like if I said, "Say eight, now put an L in front of it. Late." So you can do it in all different ways, or you could say ... I can't think of one now that has it at the end of the word. But it can work however you want, as long as they're still practicing that sound. They're just changing the sounds within the word, if that makes sense.

Marisha: Yeah. Yeah. And the cool thing is that if an SLP is comfortable with these activities and they're like, "I've got this," you can use any of that word list that you already have and just pick the activity that meets the student's level. And it doesn't involve a lot of prep. This is something that would be easy to start implementing just in your regular articulation practice.

Nicole Allison: Right. Yeah. And going along with that, so I use this intervention book with students that are on IEP and just receiving like intervention or RTI. And I've actually really been loving using the system with my five minute articulation students. So I do a five minute articulation out in the hallway. And this is just for kids that aren't on IEPs, they're just receiving intervention. But what it is, is I see them two to three times per week, just for five minutes, and we just simply drill. So there's no games, no even wasting time walking all the way back to my room and then walking back to the classroom. I pull them right outside their classroom, we're in the hallway, and I take my list of words, and we just drill these sounds and these target words in there.

Nicole Allison: And I can usually get up to about 100 productions doing this approach with kids that way. But then they're not missing a lot of class time either. So it's really easy to explain to parents why I use that approach. They're getting the research based approach that's going to be beneficial to them, but then they're also not missing a lot of class time doing unnecessary tasks.

Nicole Allison: So that's how I do mine. I wish I could figure out a way to do the five minute articulation with my kids that have IEPs a little bit better. But you need to write those minutes very specific, and I haven't figured out a good approach. So I usually have them back in my class and I do that phonological awareness still with them. But it's not during the five minute.

Nicole Allison: So, depending on your district, you could ... and then I'm thinking of how you write goals too. So I usually write the goals like I do my other goals. But so a few examples would be given words containing their target sound, a student would repeat, or add, or delete, manipulate, or rhyme sounds. You could do any of those or a combination of them, sounds or syllables with 80% accuracy in three consecutive sessions or whatever accuracy you would feel would be beneficial to them.

Nicole Allison: And depending on your district, you could write out those separately, like I said, to just target one area, or together, or however you went. But I think the important thing is providing a few examples to parents and really making sure parents and administrators understand what phonological awareness is. Because I think there's a lot of confusion around phonological awareness. There's phonological awareness, there's phonemic awareness. So just explaining what you're actually doing and how it relates to articulation, and how this is going to improve their intelligibility and their speech sounds.

Nicole Allison: So bring the research to the meeting. I have a blog post that has that article that I talked about. And start talking about how this could really work with their child to increase their articulation skills and also their pre-reading skills. I just feel like this is an area that could be really helpful to speech therapists in schools.

Marisha: Yeah, that's so helpful. And we'll definitely share a link to the blog post. So we typically put together show notes. That includes, I'll include some of the ... or actually we'll just send them to your blog posts for the citations and all of that. And then I'll also share the other resources and links that have been mentioned. So that'll be at slpnow.com/29. And I so love that you gave us an example of an actual goal. I know that's something that SLPs really look for, and it's a question that they're always asking. So yeah, I so appreciate that. That was helpful to see how you actually implement that.

Nicole Allison: I love when people write out goals inaudible I could write it that way, yes. The more ideas, the better.

Marisha: Yeah. And the cool thing is that once you have a foundation to start, then we obviously want to make sure that it makes sense for our students. But just having that example I feel like gives us a jumpstart in figuring that out. So that's super helpful. Okay. And then in terms of, so do you do this with all of your students? When you're deciding which level to start with, whether you're saying the word in sentences, or dividing into syllables, or whatever it may be. Do you start with an assessment to figure out that level? How do you decide which level you're starting with?

Nicole Allison: Yeah, so an assessment would be really helpful. Just know is the student not able to say the sound at all. This probably wouldn't be a good starting point for that student. Probably you're just going to be working on saying that sound, and saying that sound in syllables only.

Nicole Allison: But then once they can start saying it in the words but they're just not saying it consistently, that's when this approach really comes into play. Because you think about it, they're able to say the word with the found in it. They are just not carrying it over into their conversation. And that's exactly what this approach does because it mixes ... it sounds awful, but I feel like I view it almost like those exercise programs that want to confuse your muscles so that they get stronger. I kind of feel like that's where this goes, where if not, obviously we don't want to confuse our students. But it's making them do more and think about where their sound is in the word, and how it fits into the word in a conversation and in the bigger picture in sentences, and in paragraphs, and things like that. So it's making them think outside of that just simple word level and sentence level, if that makes sense. So you definitely want them to be able to say that sound in a word first, but then this helps them with that carry over. It really helps speed things up too. I've seen personally with my caseload, it helps them generate that carryover faster in my opinion.

Marisha: Yeah, that makes so much sense. And then in terms of, because I guess it would be pretty easy to figure out. You could just get a list of words and then have the student go through the hierarchy of activities and see where the student, what they're already successful at. If we're trying to decide when we're writing that goal, do we want to write a goal for the sound manipulation level or is that going to be too much of a stretch? Maybe we want to work on just blending sounds with those words, and we can work through it that way.

Nicole Allison: I have had a few kindergarteners that I've started out with this, and they're really good at the oral repeating and blending sounds together, but then it just gets a little bit too difficult for them to start manipulating those sounds. We definitely want to make sure where you're starting out something that they can do at starting point now to make them successful.

Marisha: Yeah, that makes so much sense. And then just from, I'm curious from your experience, if you're ... and I know this would vary depending on a lot of different factors, including what grade the student is in. But with your kindergarteners, because they're at the very beginning of these pre-reading skills. So would you say that you typically work towards maybe with those students, do you typically write goals more based on the going up to the syllable level and then maybe with the older grades you would go up to manipulating sounds? Do you have any rules of thumb that you found in your practice?

Nicole Allison: No, I think it really does depend on where the student is at. Because like I said, there are kindergarteners that they just were not ready for that. But then I've had other kindergartners that surprisingly were able to manipulate sounds. And they were able to do those tasks. They just really got that.

Nicole Allison: So I don't know if it's grade specific, but I know a lot of people have asked me about preschool, doing this method with preschool. And I'm just not sure that they're ready yet for this kind of approach. You could do some of the things. You could do the repeating of the sentence or even just blending the syllables probably like ladder, and having them put that word together and saying ladder. But that level is, they're pretty young to be doing a lot of those tasks. But otherwise, I don't know if it's a specific grade or age. It's ore on their ability and what they're capable of doing I think.

Marisha: Yeah, that helps. And I think maybe with our preschoolers or if we're in the middle of an IEP period for some of our students and we're not able to change that goal. I think this is something that we can use. We're still working on that articulation goal, so we can write our traditional goals and just embed some of this, and see how it works. It shouldn't hurt the student. So yeah, maybe with our preschoolers, if we're working on articulation, we can just do some syllable clapping, just embedding it as we go along. And then even if we're not able to write that formal goal, we can just play around with some of these skills. If it helps, then that's amazing. That's an added bonus there.

Nicole Allison: I would even say to do that, almost. I have wrote goals specifically for the phonological awareness. But I feel like even if you have a goal that just very generic that a lot of times we write. A student will, given a word, a student will say their target sound at the word level for 80% accuracy in three consecutive trials, or however you might write that goal. But you are still working on that goal like you said, by doing the phonological awareness task. You're targeting that word at the word level just by embedding some of these quick phonological awareness interventions in your regular sessions.

Nicole Allison: So it really does work. And that would be an easy way, even if your goals aren't written that way. It's just another approach I feel like so it doesn't have to be, and we don't have to really write approaches in our IEPs. We just have to be targeting those goals. So definitely.

Marisha: We just get to find all the tools to add to the tool belt to help our students. Yeah. So just to help our students make more progress. And then speaking of progress, do you have any tips when it comes to progress monitoring? How do you set that up when you're tracking progress for that type of goal? When given their target sounds, student will manipulate sounds in words by adding, deleting sounds with 80% accuracy. Do you just do that activity in therapy and take data on it, or do you have any special tricks when it comes to that?

Nicole Allison: I think that's where probably the difference in writing the goals comes in, or to write student will manipulate the sounds, then that's what you're really looking for. You're looking for them to be able to manipulate the sounds with their target sound in there. But not necessarily ... so you will be stating that they got it correct if they are able to manipulate the sounds, but not necessarily if they're saying their target sound correctly, if that makes sense. But if you write the goal focusing on their target sound, then that's where you're going to be. That's where your focus is going to be. And that's where you're going to write whether they did it or not.

Nicole Allison: So I think either one of those could be used, I'm not sure if there's one that's better than the other. And they might be different for different students. But I think it's important to realize what are we writing our goal four and then go for that. But just like the article said, they weren't necessarily working on articulation during that. But both phonological skills and articulation improved. Which is really neat I feel like. So even if we write a goal saying student will manipulate the sounds within a target word that has their sound, we're working on that phonological awareness. But I feel like we're also working on that articulation, but we're looking more at the phonological awareness aspect of it. But I think both will improve. I think that's what people will see is both end up improving.

Marisha: Yeah. And that's the best part about that goal because they target something completely different and see generalization, which is really exciting. Then I was curious too, do you have any favorite tips? And it sounds like if the student is really struggling with it, then maybe they're not ready for this type of activity yet. But I'm curious if there's anything that you do to help students who seem ready, but they're just struggling a little bit. Do you have any favorite visuals or strategies that you use to help students be able to maybe ... because I feel like manipulating sounds is the trickiest part. Because I love the strategies that you gave when you were explaining the activities. Like when we're working on syllables, you gave lots of different steps to scaffold it when we first say the two parts of the word and then help the student put it together. And then you gave a lot of those examples for that. But I'm curious if you have any favorites when it comes to manipulating those sounds.

Nicole Allison: Yeah. I think the best thing that you can do when doing this work is even though they're not reading yet, a lot of our students probably aren't at the reading level yet. Maybe some of them are, that would be great if they are. But either way, even if they're pre-reader or reader, I think the best thing that we can do is write the word down and just provide that visual. Especially if they're struggling with that. Because again, you think about it. If I said, "Say the word light. Now change the L to an N." "Night." It'd be so much easier if we saw the word in print and then I could circle the L or erase the L and put an N there. And that would just help them even if they're not, what I found is even if they're not reading yet, putting it in print just does something. It's like it does something magical, and just really helps them because it provides that visual again.

Nicole Allison: So I think that would be an area, that's a cue or a prompt that you could easily give them is just simply writing it down. We do a lot of that with just CVC words, especially in kindergarten. I'll write out a list of 10 CVC words containing their sound. And then we just tap on them. I tap each sound and they say it, so we'll add, or what's another one with L? I'm trying to think. Lip. So seeing those sounds in print, it's like you have all of your senses working together. So you hear the sound, you see it. And then even touching or tapping your fingers together as you make the sound. It's just working all of those senses so that it comes together a little bit better I think.

Marisha: Yeah, that's super helpful. And I've also seen some SLPs use, and I don't know which would be better. Because I think that giving them exposure to that print while they're doing that practice, that makes so much sense. And like you were saying, it gives them even more sensory inputs because then they can see it and touch it as they're saying it and all of that. So that makes so much sense.

Marisha: And I've also seen I think this, I've seen SLPs do this and read about it in some articles too, where they just have colored chips or blocks. They use those to represent the different sounds. But I don't know which one would be better. That would be worth looking into. But I think it also depends on the student, so we can mix and match depending on what works best for them.

Nicole Allison: Very true, yeah.

Marisha: But I love those examples, and I think that's super helpful. And another example of that whole child approach and combining all the different elements, which is super cool. Then I'm curious too, what are some of your favorite treatment activities? So you gave us a lot of different ideas in terms of what we can do as we move through the hierarchy. But we talked about this can be kind of challenging for students and it might not be the most fun activity in the world. So I'm curious if you have any tips or strategies around how to keep students motivated through this, whether it's some activity that you're doing as you're practicing this, or something that you do to set up the session. Whatever it may be, I'm curious.

Nicole Allison: Yeah. So for my five minute articulation, that's why one of the reasons that I love it because it's so minimalist, I feel like there's no games or anything like that. There's no setup. And you can typically keep a child's attention for five minutes even without a game, or any activity like that.

Nicole Allison: So that works really well for that. But it's super easy to incorporate a game. You can make a game. And on each turn, they have to do five to 10 phonological awareness activities. Or something that I like to do is just I have a whiteboard in my room and it's very simple. But sometimes it's the simplest things I found that kids, I kind of turn it into a competition if I have a group. And it's just writing out their sounds. So I give them a CVC word with their sound in it. Or even if we're working on diagraphs like the th sound, I would just give them a simple word and then it's like a race. They have to write that out. Or I've done it at the upper level where they have to write a sentence containing as many words with their sounds as they can. And whoever has the most words with their sounds in the sentence wins. And it can't be a run on sentence I say, it has to be a regular length, a sentence that makes sense and it's grammatically correct.

Nicole Allison: And honestly, I don't know. It's just really the simplest things when you turn them into games or have some fun with them. If you're having fun, I feel like the kids are much more likely to have fun. So if you are excited about something, it can be the most boring activity ever. But often if I'm excited about it, then that excitement wears off on my kids and my students.

Nicole Allison: So those are just some ideas, but you can easily incorporate this into any game or activity because it's only a few, it's just like saying a word or any articulation activity. It's just really easy to do, I feel like.

Marisha: Yeah, those are really great tips. Yeah, using games. And I love that whiteboard idea as well. I think the sentence idea is pretty genius because it helps them work on so many different goals because they have to think about their articulation sounds, and then there's grammar, and vocabulary. And all the things. So that's super smart. I love it. Yeah, just little things. And we don't have to have a ton of crazy materials or spend all of our lives prepping and laminating to have really awesome therapy sessions. So I love all of these ideas so much, so incredibly helpful.

Marisha: Then I'm curious if you have anything else that you wanted to share about phonological awareness or just any tips in general that you want to share with the SLPs listening today?

Nicole Allison: No, but I think, I'm just going to reiterate. No tips. I think I talked about them all. I covered them all, but I did want to reiterate just how important that communication aspect is. Especially when you're writing these goals or if this is something that is new to you, or that you haven't done before. I feel like it's really important to just communicate to the parents that this is backed by research, that is really effective. And try to just describe what that phonological awareness looks like and how it's going to impact and improve their child's speech. Because I feel like what I've learned or what I've discovered is the more I communicate up front, the easier it is to implement something. So if I've communicated it upfront, then when parents get some practice pages doing some of those phonological awareness skills with that target sound in there, they're not taken off guard or anything like that. They kind of know what's going on. And I just make sure to explain it and give directions on how to do this, because it's very easy to practice at home too, and to do some of that carry over. So I just feel like that communication piece is key.

Nicole Allison: And especially if you come into a meeting with a research article that says, or multiple research articles that say this is really effective, and this is going to speed up the time probably that your child will likely be in speech. That's always a good thing.

Marisha: Yeah, that definitely gives us some different credibility points. And then that brought up another question for me too in terms of sending home activities. What do you typically send home? How do you decide which level of activity-

Nicole Allison: crosstalk doing really well and I feel like they are able to do it with another person, then I'll send home some carry over activities. And it's just really sort of a word list that has their target sounds. You could write this out, and then you could just give a few examples in the directions. Like have them, if they're working on blending a word together. You would say the word a lip, and then the student would say lip. And just giving those examples and sending that home, that really works out well too. Because the child too can help explain it to the parents because they've been doing it in speech. But then just having those examples at the top too helps.

Marisha: Yeah. And that's so easy to put together too. We could even just grab a quick note, or take a copy of any word list and just jot down whatever level we want them to work at. If we want them to clap out the syllables or put together words when given two of the syllables, or whatever it may be. That doesn't have to take a ton of work either. That's so cool. Then I'm curious too, where can people find out. If they loved these ideas, which I'm sure they did. Where can they find out more about you? Where do you hang out in the internet world? And then I'd also love to hear more about the resource that you created and what that would include.

Nicole Allison: So I blog over on the Speech Peeps. Anybody can contact me through email, nicoleallison@speechpeeps.com. I'm over on Instagram as @nicoleallisonslp. And then on Facebook, Allison Speech Peeps. So you can contact me through those. I'm usually pretty fast about my email, just because I know I like to have people respond to me pretty fast. So I will get back to you if you ever reach out to me. And then Marisha mentioned I have a phonological awareness resource. And this is something that I put together last year just because I felt like I really needed it for my caseload, just looking at the research and how beneficial this type of intervention was going to be. So I went through actually in did all of those hierarchies that I talked about for every sound.

Nicole Allison: So this is something that you could look up and you could do all of these things and find words. But if you don't want to spend that time, this might be a resource that would be really beneficial to you because all that is already done. And the nice thing is because it's pre-reading and the student's not reading anything, they're not writing anything. You can even pull this up on an iPad or your computer, or even I pulled it up on my phone. Because really I'm just going through these words and say mats. Now change the M to a C. Cats. They can do all these things. And you can just pull it up right there if you don't want to print it. So that is something that I use now with any child that I'm working on with articulation, at the grade level. So kindergarten and up, I incorporate phonological awareness skills in. And I just feel like it's really been beneficial to my students.

Marisha: Thank you so much for sharing all of these amazing tips and tricks that I feel like I could use this in my session, this afternoon. I could implement it right away, so I so appreciate you sharing all of this. And yeah, thank you for your time. And if the listeners want to find any of the resources that I mentioned, I'll include links to Nicole's site, and the blog post, and her resources, all that good stuff. And you can find that at slpnow.com/29. But yeah, thank you so much. I so appreciate you, Nicole.

Nicole Allison: Thanks Marisha. I appreciate you too.




Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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