Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify

This Week’s Episode: How to Integrate Curriculum into Therapy with Our Secondary Learners

I cannot believe we’re already wrapping up this month of curriculum-based therapy content! I don’t know about you, but I had a *lot* of fun with this one.

There is so much to learn about alternative service delivery models and creating the least restrictive environment for learning, so trust me when I say that this is definitely *not* the last time we’ll be making beautiful contextualized learning magic happen by blending literacy + curriculum-based therapy!

So far this month we’ve planned for our preschoolers, early elementary learners, and later elementary learners. This week we are going to focus on our secondary learners.

With this group of secondary students, we’re going to talk about identifying facts versus opinions, identifying the main idea and key details, summarizing and producing sentences with three or more clauses, and determining the meaning of words using affixes — and the curriculum-based activity we’re going to work on is writing a persuasive essay! 🙌

One of the struggles that our secondary students can come up against with this kind of work is pulling together different texts to support the arguments in their essay. It can be a challenge to break down the texts, which makes writing the actual essay feel impossible…but we can help to make that more manageable for them!

Oh and one quick reminder: Our job here is not to help the students complete the assignment, it’s to support the language underpinnings that they need in order to write the essay. What we really want to do is help our students foster independence by teaching them the tools and skills that they need to succeed! 💪

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Strategies + Tips Discussed:

– Summarize the Text
– Identify Key Details
– Identify Facts and Opinions
– Use a Graphic Organizer

Here’s what we discussed:

[4:30] Therapy Ideas for Step 1 (Pre-Story Knowledge Activation)
[5:36] Therapy Ideas for Step 2 (Reading)
[5:40] Therapy Ideas for Step 3 (Post Story Comprehension)
[6:35] Therapy Ideas for Step 4 (Skill Practice)
[8:16] Therapy Ideas for Step 5 (Parallel Story)

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

Links Mentioned

– ProCon Article: Paying College Athletes – Top 3 Pros and Cons
The SLP Now One-Page Literacy-Based Therapy Unit Planner
– KWL Chart (In the SLP Now Membership)
– Summarizing Graphic Organizer (In the SLP Now Membership)

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to the podcast? If you’re not, subscribe today to get the latest episodes sent directly to you! Click here to make your listening experience auto-magic and as easy as possible.

Bonus points if you leave us a review over on iTunes → Those reviews help other SLPs find the podcast, and I love reading your feedback! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews,” “Write a Review,” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is.

Thanks so much!


Wow. I cannot believe we are already wrapping up this month of curriculum-based therapy content. It's been really fun to dive into all of the things. This is definitely not the last time we'll talk about curriculum-based therapy and how we can use it with literacy-based therapy and all of that good stuff. Like I've been saying throughout all of these episodes, this is something that I think is incredibly important and I'm consistently trying to learn more and grow more in this area when it comes to like least restrictive environment, providing services in the classroom, alternative service delivery models. There is so much to dive into, but it's been a journey for me and I'm sure you're on a journey too. So I think it's still helpful to share, in of where I am at this point. And I'll continue to share what I'm learning and we have some exciting stuff coming up.
So it won't just be my perspective. So super, super excited about all of that. But this week we are working with some secondary students and the sample goals that I pulled for this group are, identifying facts versus opinions, identifying the main idea and key details, summarizing and producing sentences with three or more clauses, and then determining the meaning of words using affixes. So lots of good stuff here. And the curriculum-based activity that I chose to support was writing a persuasive essay. So this is something that I know I had to do as a freshman in high school. And it continued on throughout high school. And I remember doing all of these activities where we had to identify what was a fact and what was an opinion. I had ... I remember my sophomore year, one of my English teachers completely tore apart my essay and made me highlight all the parts.
So I've had a lot of practice with this and I've seen students work on this as well. So I thought it would be a really nice way, and I've done this with like one group in particular comes to mind. They had to write an essay and when they're writing these essays, they have to pull a lot of different texts to support their arguments. And a lot of our students have a hard time breaking down the texts, which makes writing the essay feel nearly impossible. So for this example, they, the students had to write an essay, a persuasive essay, and they got to pick the topic. So for this hypothetical group, they're writing an essay about whether college athletes should be paid and there are some really cool sites out there. One example is ProCon and so that's the example that I'm using today. So there's an article called, Paying College Athletes – Top 3 Pros and Cons.
And so that'll give us a really, it'll just be, like I'm not teaching the students how to write the persuasive essay, but I'm helping them. I'm implementing literacy-based therapy and giving them the strategies that they need while supporting their speech and language goals so that they can learn how to break apart the article, identify the information that they need, and then that'll get them closer to being able to write that essay. And just given our limited time with the students, this is just one example. And then I would try and coordinate with the other teachers and everything to make sure that all of the aspects are being covered. But I think this is where I felt like I was uniquely skilled and able to really support students. And it ended up working out really well with their goals. So, that's just how I decided to approach this.
So, diving into Ukranatist literacy-based therapy framework. If you want to follow along and jot down any notes or ideas, or if you want to start kind of planning your own unit, using this as some inspiration, you can head to But for step one, we can take an article walk in that we look at the article, we look at the title, we look at the picture, we look at the headings to get an idea of what it'll be about. And typically like with these persuasive essay topics, the students pick something that they are familiar with and that they already have an opinion on.
So hopefully we don't need to do a bunch of pre-story knowledge activation activities, but I think a KWL chart would be super interesting because the students likely know a lot about the topic, because they are likely very excited about sports and college sports and maybe they want to be a college athlete. Maybe they have an older sibling, who knows. So, they probably have a lot that they know, and they likely, because they know a lot, they probably have a lot of questions about the topic too, so we can fill in that KWL chart. And then as we read through the article, we can add in additional things that we've learned.
So I think that's a really great way to work through that. And then for step two, we'll just read through the article. And again, just my main goal is to make sure that students are engaged in attending to the article. And then for step three, we'll do some comprehension. So, because the students that I ... like in the hypothetical group don't have explicit comprehension goals. I assume that this is a relative strength for them. So I would just go through some literal and inferential questions to make sure that they're comprehending the text, but we would probably pretty quickly jump into summarizing.
So we would identify ... we would use the same strategies that we talked about last week and then also last month to help them summarize the text. And so we would identify who, where, what it's about and what's most important. And then we would identify the key details. This is also a great opportunity, because I feel like summarizing helps us move from step three to step four. So typically we would start filling in the summarizing graphic organizer and then we would transition to step four and we would do some practice. Maybe because the students are working on clauses, we would do some teaching of that, do some structured practice and then move into some like expanding sentences drill. And then we could use that to expand our summary, potentially, or just have some discussion around the article and practice expanding our sentences in that discussion. We could also do some teaching around fact versus opinion.
And if students are still struggling with that, we can back things up and take some very personal facts and opinions related to the group and do some practice there. And they could even play a little game like, is it fact or opinion, and they can make a statement and then the other members in the group have to determine whether that's a fact or an opinion, and they have to tell why. We could use a visual to support that, all of that good stuff. And then yeah. So, and then we would work through, once they get a good grasp of that, we can work on identifying the facts and opinions in the article. And this is a really important skill if they're being required to write a persuasive essay. A lot ... when I had to write them and when I've worked with students, they typically require them to like state an opinion and then support that with evidence.
So state their opinion and then list different facts. And if they have a really hard time differentiating, what's a fact versus an opinion. That is a very, very challenging exercise. And I found that taking some time to break that down makes that task much easier for our students. And then we would kind of continue working on their summary. And if they have the graphic organizer, they could pretty easily use that when it comes to writing their paper, I could give them ... if we don't have time to go through all of their articles, I could give them the graphic organizer and teach them how to do it. Maybe they could fill that in for homework and then they could use that. They could bring that to, like if they are working with a special education teacher, or whatnot, we could collaborate to make sure that they're continuing to use those strategies as they work through and start putting together their final persuasive essay.
So those are just some activity ideas to break that down. And I hope this is a helpful example, because our goal is not to complete the assignment. Just because I'm helping the ELA teacher and supporting that with the use of the persuasive essay, I'm not teaching them how to write a persuasive essay. I'm supporting the language underpinnings that they need to do that successfully. So I'm still very much staying in the speech and language zone and using my unique skills and perspective to set students up for success. And ultimately the goal is to have the students be independent with these underpinnings so that they have the tools and skills that they need to do this on their own. So, that's what that would look like. Hopefully that gives you lots of ideas and inspiration. I would absolutely love to see how you're applying this, where, what your journey is like with the framework. And yeah, I think that's a wrap. We'll see you next time.


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.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *