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This Week’s Episode: How to Integrate Curriculum into Therapy with Later Elementary Students

If you’ve been a part of the SLP Now community for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of meaningful, contextualized intervention once or twice. 😂

It’s part of why I’m such a fan of literacy-based therapy — and when you can pull materials from the curriculum, even better!

With this month’s learning series, our aim is to take those literacy-based therapy strategies that we’ve been discussing and embed the strategy into the classroom by applying it to materials from the curriculum. So far this month, we shared plans for our preschoolers and early elementary learners.

This week we’re going to tackle therapy plans for later elementary learners, and we’re going to do that with a group of hypothetical sixth graders who are working on answering questions, defining multiple meaning words, and summarizing texts.

Once we get the hang of these curriculum-based strategies, it becomes easier and easier to find ways to connect to the curriculum because it is so contextualized. You can pull pretty much any texts from the classroom and provide support in or outside of the classroom. 😍

Let’s dive in with a science expository text: A to Z article called Seeing the Evidence: Forensic Scientists at Work!

Strategies + Tips Discussed:

– The Literacy-Based Therapy Framework
– Pre-teach the  vocabulary
– Scaffold the text
– Model how to summarize the text

Here’s what we discussed:

[4:30] Therapy Ideas for Step 1 (Pre-Story Knowledge Activation)
[6:50] Therapy Ideas for Step 2 (Reading)
[7:08] Therapy Ideas for Step 3 (Post Story Comprehension)
[9:20] Therapy Ideas for Step 4 (Skill Practice)
[10:45] Therapy Ideas for Step 5 (Parallel Story)

Want to hear more about this topic? Click here to see this month’s content!

Links Mentioned

A to Z Article: Seeing the Evidence: Forensic Scientists at Work
– The SLP Now One-Page Literacy-Based Therapy Unit Planner
– KWL Chart (You can find this in our SLP Now Membership!)

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I have a group of sixth graders, hypothetically, who are working on answering questions, defining multiple meaning words, and summarizing texts. And we're continuing to follow the curriculum-based therapy theme and using content from the curriculum, or just chatting about ways to be more curriculum-based using a literacy-based therapy framework.
And I absolutely love the literacy-based therapy framework because it makes it really easy to implement contextualized intervention in a very meaningful way. And once we get the hang of the strategies, it's really easy to find ways to connect to the curriculum because it is so contextualized. It makes it really easy to pull pretty much any texts from the classroom and provide support in or outside of the classroom. I will admit that I have a little bit of experience providing intervention in the classroom, so a lot of the examples that I've been giving this month include work kind of outside of the classroom, and that's definitely something that I'm challenging myself with to figure out ways to work a little bit smarter there.
But this is my step in the journey of implementing, just connecting with the curriculum, collaborating with teachers, and pulling meaningful content, and then also sharing strategies and doing some lessons here and there. But I've been seeing some really, really cool articles about complete interventions in the classroom. That's something we're diving into and we'll have more content on soon. But this, I thought, it would still be helpful to share my journey and my progression towards curriculum-based therapy and the LRE and all of that.
For this particular group of students, they were doing a reading A to Z article in the classroom, and it was called Seeing the Evidence: Forensic Scientists at Work. Such a cool text. It was so much fun. I'm really excited to dive into this. And then if you want to follow along, and if you have a group that might be learning about forensic science in the classroom, or if you're wanting to use another text for a group of students using similar strategies, then head to, and you'll get a free copy of my one-page planner, so you can fill in your own text and goals as we go along. And hopefully these ideas will give you some strategies.
The forensic science article is an expository text. It's not story grammar, which is what I typically use with my younger students. And I find that a lot of times students still benefit from... They don't quite have a strong grasp of narratives in the very beginning, but this particular group of students was... it made sense to dive into the expository text at this point.
Yeah, so this gives us an opportunity to really focus in on summarizing and finding the main idea. And again, there's external evidence to support this as a strategy to improve comprehension. And last month we talked about a variety of strategies to work on summarizing and identifying the main idea. It was in the secondary episode. So, it was the fourth episode posted, but that will give you some... If you're wanting a refresher on some of those ideas, I'd really recommend checking out that episode. But it's basically just giving the students different self-monitoring tools, providing explicit instruction as always, and some scaffolding strategies.
Then, in terms of what we're actually going to do, I'll pull up my planner now, too. And then just to recap, we're using the article Forensic Scientists at Work. This is from reading A to Z. It is a paid subscription, but the goal of this is to use something from the classroom. So, if your teacher is using a Reading A to Z article, or you could apply this to any texts that they're using in the classroom. And the goals were targeting or answering questions, multiple meaning words, and summarizing.
For step one, our pre-story knowledge, we'd start off with an article walk and I would likely pull out a KWL chart as well. So, what they know about the topic already, what they want to know, and then later on, we can fill in what they learned.
With one particular group that I'm thinking about, they didn't have any background knowledge about forensic science, and it seemed like vocabulary was the biggest barrier for them. So, I did some pre-teaching where we identified some of the most important words, and we broke them down and we did a variety of activities. And if I'm being honest, when I used this text, I wasn't as familiar with the framework, and I actually just dove into reading the article. I completely skipped step one. Then we started doing story comprehension, and they weren't able to answer any of the questions.
So, that made me pause, and I realized that I actually needed to do the pre-teaching. I've definitely had my own literacy-based therapy and curriculum-based therapy fails. So, hopefully these podcasts episodes can help you learn from my mistakes. But I definitely had some internal evidence there that what I was doing was not working. That's why I'm super grateful for this framework, because I see my students making much more progress. And of course, that's just my internal evidence, but we also have... I do my best to share the external evidence, like data from the research that supports the use of these various approaches as well.
Back to the plan. We just did some pre-teaching of the vocabulary targets. They've got a good idea, a good grasp on what a victim and a suspect and all of that. And we've used our different vocabulary strategies to work on that. And then the next step we would dive into is shared reading. We would read through the text, and I keep this pretty simple. We just read through and make sure that students are staying engaged, but I don't do a lot beyond that. Like I said, I keep it pretty simple.
And that leads us to step three, where we dive into the story comprehension. This particular group was working on literal and inferential questions. So, I just started with the literal questions, and we did some comprehension there. That went well, which was exciting, so we continue to work on inferential questions. And then we started diving into summarizing as well, because that was one of their goals.
We used the strategies that I mentioned in the last episode from the Stevens et al. Articles, just different ways to scaffold. And some of the highlights were identifying sections of the text and then asking, "Who or what is the section about?" And then, "What is the most important idea about the who or what?" And then I would scaffold and support to students to write the gist.
Another way to do that is just make it shorter. Express it in a shorter form. If they struggle with that, we can, again, refer back to the text, or if we've done teaching of text structure, we can have them look at the text structure. And then of course, I want to make sure that I actually taught them how to do that, initially. So, sometimes I just dive into those strategies, but it's also really important to give them some explicit instruction before we expect them to start summarizing.
So, some ways to do that are to provide models of generating a summary. Maybe I would identify the main idea and just have a small section, and I would kind of talk through asking myself those questions. And then I would just kind of model my thinking out loud. Then I would give that students opportunities to practice and give them very specific feedback. Like, "Oh, I loved how you asked yourself the question about who or what is this section about. You did a great job identifying that, but you forgot to ask yourself what's the most important idea?" Or, "You just copied the text. Can you tell it in your own words? Write the gist. Make it in a shortened form, whatever makes the most sense." Hopefully those are some helpful examples in how to navigate that when it comes to summarizing.
And then we're at step four now. In this unit, we've already gotten to work on answering questions and summarizing and multiple meaning words, so we would just continue those in step four. I would take additional time to teach, as needed. I would have the students work on a vocabulary journal, and then this would be an opportunity to work on the other language skills as well. So, if they're working on answering questions, we can fill in the vocabulary journal, have discussion around that.
That benefits all of the students. It gives the students who have vocabulary goals, an opportunity to get more meaningful exposures. And it gives the students who are working on questions, also a meaningful... an opportunity to get more meaningful practice with those questions. And so, it just is a win-win all around. As long as we're choosing language, rich activities, we are golden and we can provide really amazing therapy.
Then I would also take some time to continue refining the students' summary. After we work on the comprehension and the vocabulary, we would revisit that summary and see if we can incorporate some of that vocabulary, and practice generating that summary. And that would give them, again, more meaningful opportunities to use their vocabulary in a meaningful context, all of that good stuff.
And then, step five of the framework is a parallel story. This is a little bit different if we're using a non-fiction text. I might have the students, maybe if we still need to work on narratives, if that's still one of the goals, they can make up a story and generate a story related to forensic science, or they can convince... Maybe they decide they want to become a forensic scientist. So, they write a persuasive, like a mini-persuasive essay about why they should be admitted to the forensic science program, or why it's important for us to have forensic scientists that can...
There's different ways to get creative and give students additional opportunities to use their target structures to embed their goals in meaningful contexts. Those are just some ideas. Hopefully that was a helpful framework. And then, next week we are diving into a curriculum-based therapy activity for our secondary students.


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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