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In this week’s episode of the SLP Now podcast, I break down a five-step framework for literacy-based therapy!
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Thanks so much!
Marisha: Now we're onto the framework for literacy-based therapy. We talked about some of the research behind it and why we might want to use this approach, so now I'm going to break down the five-step framework that Gillam and Ukrainetz share about in their book.
So the five steps are pre-story knowledge activation, then shared reading, post-story comprehension, focus skill activities, and then a parallel story. We'll dive into each of these steps in more detail and just a couple notes that I took away from the chapter where Gillam and Ukrainetz break this down.
So storybooks, language skill targets, and focused activities vary within the framework. So we can use this framework with different books or texts, we can use this framework with a variety of language targets, and we can use a variety of activities to target these skills, so it's very dynamic. We get to mix and match different elements, as you'll see in the demonstration portion. And then they also have a note that almost any language objective can be taught within literacy-based language intervention. So we'll share some different ideas in the demonstration, but if you have any specific goals that you're wondering about, definitely let me know and we'll do some active brainstorming as we go through.
But first we have to pick a book or a text. So I try to select something that can be read in 10 minutes or less. I find that if the text is much longer than that, it's just not... We don't have enough time, especially within how much we want to target, how many skills we want to target, and then also just within how the sessions are set up. That seems to be the sweet spot. I even tend to prefer something that's even shorter than that. I usually end up doing five-minute books and passages. And then I also want to make sure that the text has met multiple demonstrations of the targets or that I can manipulate the book in a way that gives me the ability to create multiple opportunities for the student to practice. So that's what we consider when we're selecting a text for therapy.
One other note that I wanted to share, so one common hurdle is I don't have the funds to purchase a bunch of books or I'm doing teletherapy, and I don't know... I can't use a book in teletherapy, so we have lots of options available us that are free, so lots of books are available on YouTube. And if you're hesitant to use YouTube videos because of the ads and things like that, Edpuzzle is a great site. I think it's free for everyone. You can search the link with YouTube so you can access a bunch of YouTube videos, but they don't have ads and you can edit them and adjust them however you see fit. So it's Edpuzzle, and that's a really great resource. Epic is another site that offers free digital books. And then the library, whether you get a physical book or a digital book. I was able to log into my library and I have access to tons of digital books. So those are all great ways to access books without having to splurge or spend money and they're really easy to access. They don't take a lot of time. And then for another site that I really like for articles is called ReadWorks, and I'll give an example of how I use that in the last section of this presentation.
Okay, perfect, so we will start diving into the different steps. And then just one note that I wanted to share before we dive in, these are not fluff. These are very meaningful activities and each step has a purpose. If it's not clear as we go through just a quick overview of these steps, I hope that in the demonstrations you'll see how strategic we are with how we target the skills throughout the framework. These activities are very language rich, we can target a variety of goals and put this into action with our students. So that's what we've got there, and now let's dive in.
So for step one, we have pre-story knowledge activation. Some activities that I like to do in this step, first, I like to do a book walk. These are in no particular order, I adjust the order using my clinical judgment based on what I think makes sense for the students. Maybe I'll start a book walk and realize the students have no prior knowledge on this topic, let's reel it in, back up, and start by building some pre-story knowledge so that they can complete that activity. But yeah, so the first thing that I do is... Or not the first thing, but one thing that I like to do is a book walk where, if we have a physical book, we'll hold it up, we'll look at the cover, we'll look at the back, we'll flip through some of the pages and just talk about what we notice.
One thing that I really like to pair the book walk with is a graphic organizer where we look at the cover in the back and maybe a couple pages, and we fill in a story grammar organizer and we start thinking about, "Okay, who's the story about? Where does it take place? What's the problem? What's the potential problem? How would the character feel?" We just work through the story grammar framework just to start having students think about the story and put together some ideas. And if we really struggle with that, like I said, it might be worth doing some other pre-story knowledge activation, whether it's taking a virtual field trip. YouTube/Edpuzzle is a great resource to find virtual field trips, so we'll give an example of what that looks like in the early unit. But we'll be talking about Apple Trouble, which is a book that happens in the forest, and if our students have no context of what a forest is like, or what kinds of animals live in the forest, or the qualities of those animals... I found a YouTube video that walks through some different forest animals, and in that video, we get to see some of the forest so that helps us build some of that background knowledge. And then we might do a semantic map or additional activities here to set students up for success for the rest of the unit.
The strategies that I might use throughout these activities are linguistic facilitation, so just making the student's language more complex. This can apply to grammar, or vocabulary, or just providing expansions and really meaningful language input. Another strategy that's especially helpful for grammar is focused stimulation where we provide frequent models and recast. So when we model, we highlight features naturally in conversation, or when we recast, we correct what the child says or modify the modality. This is especially important because when we look at the grammar research, before we have students start to produce different skills, they need to have a number of meaningful exposures to that target. By doing this, especially if I find if we're doing that recasting, at first, the student, they're like, "What are you talking about?" And they just continue making the grammar error. But over time, it's really amazing to see, especially over the course of just one unit, they just take it in. They don't really respond to the recast, but then over time they start correcting their utterances after we provide the recast and by the time we get to the fourth step of the unit, they are totally prepared to start producing that target on their own in different types of activities. It just makes the teaching so much easier.
I've seen that work really well with grammar, but the same thing applies with vocabulary for providing those linguistics facilitations and helping with word finding or whatever it may be. It's amazing how we're setting up students for success with this activity.
And then for step number two, we have shared reading. So this is where we read the book. I don't spend a ton of time on this step. It's probably the quickest section of the book or of the unit, we just read through it. I make sure I'll stop occasionally to make sure that students are engaged and I might point out a couple things, but it's just giving the student the context of the story, making sure they're engaged. We're not doing a ton of structured practice because we're going to be doing that throughout the entire unit. So just a couple minutes here.
And then people always ask how long I spend in each step. So with pre-story knowledge activation, it really depends if the students have a lot of prior knowledge and they do a great job filling in the organizer and they're good to go, then that can take 10, 15, 20 minutes. But if they're missing a lot of that prior knowledge, I've spent several sessions in that stage because it's still meaningful practice. Of course we don't want it to go on forever, there's a sweet spot, but as long as I'm feeling like we're still being therapeutic, according to the Rise framework, I'm okay spending more time because we have the luxury to do that and slow things down for our students, whereas general education teachers don't have as much wiggle room. That's what makes our services more therapeutic or not... Yeah, that's what makes us therapists and not teachers.
So then for step three, we have post-story comprehension. The time we spend here also varies. It depends on how much support the students need. It can be a very quick run through of comprehension, or it can take several sessions if we're really diving into all of these elements. So some things that we can do, we can ask literal questions or inferential questions, we can fill in a story grammar organizer, which I still consider to be story comprehension, because they're answering questions about the story.
And then the important part to remember here too, this is a language activity, so we're not just working on comprehension. If a student has vocabulary or grammar or social language goals or whatever it may be, we're still targeting those skills in the context. So if we're working on social language, they're working on waiting their turn or responding appropriately, not providing too many details, or providing enough details, or whatever their goal is around that. If there's grammar, they're producing grammatically correct sentences. If they're not ready to produce grammatically correct sentences, we are modeling and recasting. The same with vocabulary, if they can answer the question but they're not using appropriate vocabulary, or if they're not using enough descriptive words, or whatever it may be, we can provide those expansions. So that's how we're working on a lot of different skills at once.
And then some strategies we can use, we can just scaffold the level of questioning. We can provide easier questions to start and then get more complex. Another thing that I really like to do is citing evidence in the book. So if I ask a question and the student is staring blankly at me, one thing that I might do is I might pull out the book and I might turn to the page where the answer is, and I'll ask the question again. And then I might give them a field of choices or maybe I'll just show them the page of the book. Sometimes that's enough. So that's the type of strategy we can use.
I can also provide other types of scaffolded support. So sometimes I give multiple choice answers for the questions, whether I just list out the answers verbally, or I write them out, or I provide picture cues. I might vary the level of complexity, like we talked about before, like who and what questions versus when and where questions or literal questions versus inferential questions. And then again, always recasting and modeling along the way. So that's what we've got for step three.
And then for step four, we have focus skill activities. This is where we spend the bulk of our time. What we do here is we provide the student with language bridge activities to target multiple goals. So the opportunities are endless here, but some things that we might do are create a vocabulary journal or work on the student's vocabulary journal, we might fill in a story grammar organizer if we didn't do that in the comprehension section, or we might carry that over to the section where we have the students work on retelling the story, because that again, involves grammar and vocabulary and a bunch of language skills. We might do some pictography. That's a good strategy to use with the story grammar organizer, we might draw quick pictures for the different steps in the story, and then again, students can work on all of their different language goals as we're doing that, whether we're describing or creating compound sentences or using basic concepts, whatever it may be. And then we also can do different vocabulary games, and we'll give some different examples of what that looks like in the demo.
But then the strategies we want to use when we select relevant targets, we want to make sure that we're using student-friendly language, especially when we're working on vocabulary and creating definitions. And then, also just providing that scaffolded support, so visuals, field of choices, recast models, and all of the strategies that we use all day every day. I don't know about you, but I can never turn that support off so I'm using that even with my friend's kids sometimes.
So there's a great question here about taking data, so we will take just a tiny little detour. I'll take one or two minutes to answer this and then if you have more questions, I can direct you to some other resources. But how I structure my data is I take a probe at the beginning of every session, so whatever our focus skill activity is for the day, I take a quick probe for that, and that's super helpful because that helps me know exactly where the student is and that helps me prepare where we might need to start, whether I'm just providing models and recasts, if I need to teach this skill, if I need to provide a little bit of support or a lot of support. And then that also helps me make sure that I have really clean data to start.
So within the first minute or two of the session, I do a quick probe, we hop around and then, while I'm doing that, the other students are reviewing their goals. It's just super quick and we get really good at it, and I have a good system for that. Then we dive into the activity, and then I have a rubric that I like to use... Here, let's see if I... Yeah. So I have a level of support rubric that I like to use just to make sure that I'm being consistent in how I'm describing the support that I provide my students. So at the end of the session, I'll put my data collection tool away and then I'll just focus on being an amazing therapist, or at least attempting to be one, and then at the end of the session, I'll open up my notes and then I'll describe the level of support that I provided.
So when I'm working in context, I just want my student to be successful, and I usually aim for about 80% accuracy because that helps me make sure... I'm not taking data while I'm doing this. I'm just keeping track of it in my head. So it's not the most beautiful numeric data in the world, but I have that at the beginning of the session so I'm okay with having just some more narrative. But I feel like this is incredibly helpful because then I can describe the types of supports that are working for the student. I think that's so much more helpful than just a number of what they can do on their own. So having those two sources of data combined, it's like SLP nirvana because when it comes to seeing them make progress, it's perfect, and then also it's helpful with progress reports and all of that. So that's how I approach that.
Let me just make sure I got everything else here. Okay, perfect. So the next section is creating the parallel story. So this is where we integrate all of the skills that we talked about throughout the unit. So some things that we can do for younger students, I typically create a book, and they love this because they get to take it home. So when we were doing in-person therapy, we'd just fold eight and a half by 11 printer paper, get a beautiful colored piece of paper and then fold that over it and make an old school book. So that's one thing we can do. But especially with archer groups or with digital therapy, creating a book on Google Sites is very helpful. So I can do just this super, super quick demo of how we might be able to set that up.
There are two iPad apps that I've tried using for parallel story, so Notability can be nice and then also Pictello is cool because you can add the text and pictures, and then students can also record their voice over it, which is super interesting. And then for older students, or just to step up the engagement, students have also had a lot of fun creating movies. So we always fill in the graphic organizer first, so we'll revisit the graphic organizer that we created in step one, and then in step three, and then in step five, we'll make another copy and kind of clear things off and then create a story that's related to what we read during the unit but we just switch it up a little bit.
So if we read Apple Trouble, it's about a hedgehog who gets an apple stuck on his back and then they have to figure out how to get it off. So maybe we can make a story about an Arctic animal, what problem would an Arctic animal have? Or maybe we pick another forest animal or maybe we make it about one of the kids in the group. There's so many options, and the kids get really creative. It's really fun to see what they come up with.
Some of my students have created movies after we create that script and we practice telling it, we might act it out and we can just record them acting it out just using my phone camera. Tunetastic is another fun app. You can select a scene and then animated characters and you move them around, you can record the students' voices, so there's lots of opportunities there. And then all throughout these activities, we're just really giving the students meaningful opportunities to practice all of the skills that we've been teaching and working on throughout the entire year.
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