This Week’s Episode: Evidence-based Strategies for Syntax Goals
We are continuing with our new podcast series, Strategies You Can Use! I’ve been sharing different evidence-based strategies to help target specific skills.
Today I’ll discuss different strategies on how to target syntax goals!
I hope you’re enjoying this series so far. Let’s dive into the strategies we can use to target syntax goals like compound and complex sentences, passive voice, and relative clauses.
3 Strategies to Target Syntax Goals
Review episode 127 for an overall strategy. It was more focused on basic grammar but some of the principles will be applicable here.
1. Combining Sentences
Provide students with two or more sentences and prompt them to create a single, longer sentence (Strong, 1986)
🍎 Cued Combining: The therapist underlines components to be combined and/or gives students to use (e.g., conjunctions).
Example: I sometimes wonder SOMETHING. Superheroes do exist. (WHETHER) –> I sometimes wonder whether superheroes do exist.
🍏 Open Combining: The therapist doesn’t give specific instructions and allows the student to creatively combine the sentence.
Example: I like to eat cereal. I watch TV. –> I like to eat cereal before I watch TV.
2. Sentence Expansion
Students can also be prompted to expand sentences (Gould, 2001).
🍎 Sentence Expansion: The therapist gives the student a simple sentence to start with and has the student build the sentence by increasing the length and complexity.
Example: I saw a monkey. –> I saw a silly monkey eating bananas at the zoo.
3. Embedded Practice (Using Reading Passages)
✓ Add or replace words and phrases in a text
✓ Sentence Games
✓ Pull sentences from a text and create compound/complex sentences.
Need Syntax goal ideas?
🎯 Check out SLP Now Goal-bank for some inspiration
Strong, W. (1986). Creative approaches to sentence combining. ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills.
Gould, B. W. (2001). Written Language Disorders: Theory into Practice. University of Virginia: Pro Ed
Next Up in this Pod Series
7/5/22 Strategies You Can Use: Following Directions
7/12/22 Strategies You Can Use: Grammar
7/19/22 Strategies You Can Use: Syntax
8/2/22 Strategies You Can Use: Basic Concepts
8/9/22 Strategies You Can Use: Basic Concepts
8/16/22 Strategies You Can Use: Affixes
8/23/22 Strategies You Can Use: Narratives
8/30/22 Strategies You Can Use: Summarizing
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Thanks so much!
Marisha: Hello there, and welcome to the SLP Now podcast, where we share practical therapy tips and ideas for busy speech language pathologists. Grab your favorite beverage and sit back as we dive into this week's episode.
Marisha: Hey there, it's Marisha, and welcome to the SLP Now podcast. This summer, we are doing a series called Strategies You Can Use and we picked different goal areas and we're going to do a blitz of three evidence-backed strategies that you can use when targeting those specific skills. So these are mostly strategies that have come from the literature and we're just pulling out the ones that are most practical that might help you if you're feeling stuck or just wanting to try some new strategies when targeting some of our most common goals. So without further ado, let's dive right in.
Marisha: Today, we are diving into strategies that we can use when targeting syntax goals. So this could be looking at compound and complex sentences, passive voice, relative clauses, all of that good stuff. If you didn't listen in last week, I would highly recommend reviewing Episode 127 for an overall strategy. It was more focused on basic grammar structures, but some of the principles will still apply here, so Episode 127 gives you a great overview there. Let's not waste any time and dive right into the strategies that we can use to target more complex sentences.
Marisha: So the first strategy that we can use is to work on combining sentences. So this is detailed by Strong 1986 in the article Creative Approaches to Sentence Combining ... Or it's actually a book, but I'll give you a great overview here, but that is a great reference to use. You can find it in the show notes at slpnow.com/128. Combining sentences is what it sounds. We provide students with two or more sentences, and then prompt them to create a single longer sentence. So this is a great way to work on syntax and we can have them combine the sentence in a way that elicits whatever structure we're trying to target, and there's two types of combining. So we have cued combining, where the therapist underlines the components that need to be combined or gives the students elements to use, like a conjunction for example. So an example of this is like we say, "I sometimes wonder something," that's the first sentence, and the second sentence is, "Superheroes do exist," and we provide the student with a conjunction whether. And then they work on combining that sentence. So then they could say, "I sometimes wonder whether superheroes do exist." So we're using the conjunction whether and replacing something with superheroes do exist.
Marisha: So that's cued combining. We also have open combining, where we don't give the students specific instructions and we allow them to creatively combine the sentence. So if we give them I like to eat cereal and I like to watch TV, they could create a number of sentences with that. It could be I like to eat cereal before I watch TV, I like to eat cereal while I watch TV. There's a number of ways that they can combine that sentence. That is the first strategy that we can use when targeting sentence. We can help students combine sentences and we can either cue them or have it be open, and we can have this be like a regular drill activity where we give them two sentences, or we can pull sentences from a book that we're reading or an article that we're reading and have them combine the sentences there.
Marisha: Another strategy that we can use, number two, is sentence expansion. So Gould 2001 gives a great overview of this. Again, it will be linked in the show notes, but this is when the SLP gives the student a simple sentence to start with and gives a student the opportunity to build the sentence by increasing its length and complexity. So this is a great way, if we're teaching them whether it's relative clauses or anything like that. We can do initial teaching of what that looks like and then we can practice by expanding sentences, whether it's just like a drill-based activity and we're giving them those sentences or if it's done in more context, like if we're taking one of their narratives or one of their writing samples or if we're reading an article or a book and we're expanding the sentences there. An example of sentence expansion, if the book has a sentence that says, "I saw a monkey," we can expand that and say, "I saw a monkey eating bananas at the zoo." So we can just include whatever target structures that we want to give students that meaningful practice and it is a little bit more drill-based in this case but some practice using their target structures.
Marisha: Then the third tip, which was also in Episode 127, this is so important and it will be a constant theme throughout all of these episodes, but we want to provide students with embedded practice. So I already gave some ideas on how we can embed sentence combination and sentence expansion in a variety of activities, whether we're taking the student's work sample, articles that we're reading, or sentences that we're using in conversation, we can also do that embedded practice. And some other ideas to do that is that we can again look at the text and add or replace words and phrases or expand the sentences and then we can also play games. It's a game where we're pulling those sentences and making them more complex and using those strategies.
Marisha: So that is a wrap on our strategies for syntax intervention. Just a quick recap, we can work on combining sentences, we can work on expanding sentences, which is strategy one and two. Head to the show notes for details on a little bit of like the protocol around that strategy and then the third strategy again is to use embedded practice and complete these activities using meaningful context. So that is a wrap on our syntax episode. We will be taking a break next week because it's the SLP Summit, but the following week, we are diving into all things basic concepts. So can't wait to see you then, I hope you're having a fabulous week.
Marisha: Thanks for listening to the SLP Now podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share with your SLP friends and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to you. See you next time.
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