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We’re back at it with another episode of the SLP Now podcast!

This week, we’re taking the next step in our six-episode learning journey all about planning a month-long literacy based therapy unit — with comprehensive plans for your entire school-aged caseload.

So far we’ve talked about planning for an early language unit using the book Lola Plants a Garden, and a picture book unit using Spring is Here!

Today, we’re talking about therapy plans for a fiction article: Miss Johnson’s Plant Experiment.

This unit is specifically designed for older students who still benefit from narrative support. There is a lot of research showing us that targeting narratives through high school has a positive impact on learning!

Miss Johnson’s Plant Experiment is a fiction article about some students who conduct a plant experiment. We’re going to walk through this article using Dr. Ukrainetz’s five step literacy based framework, and talk about activities that you can use to target your students’ goals in each step.

The great thing about using the literacy based framework and text is that you can target literally any language goal. It offers a contextualized practice, which makes the activity more meaningful and helps to facilitate generalization — the ultimate goal!

🗣️ What happens in speech shouldn’t stay in speech.

📚 The units in this series are structured using Dr. Ukrainetz’s literacy based therapy framework, and can be used to target multiple goals with mixed groups.

To brush up on those topics or learn more about the nitty gritty of structuring sessions, check out the links and resources below!

Marisha frequently get questions about the timing of sessions when it comes to planning literacy-based units — specifically how long the unit actually takes, and how much time is spent in each step.

The short answer is… it depends. When working with mixed groups and a school-aged caseload, Marisha recommends you plan for each unit to last a month, but the actual implementation and session timing requires your clinical judgment.

For the purpose of this episode we’re going to plan for a month of therapy, and we’ll get into how much time Marisha would spend on each of the steps as we go through them. 👇

Step one: Pre-story knowledge activation

There are four strategies Marisha likes to use for pre-story knowledge activation, but she encourages SLPs not to think of them as a structured four steps—more like a menu of options to choose from based on your students’ needs and goals.

1. Do an article walk together

Start with a quick review of the article, skimming through the paragraphs to see what your students already know about the topic.

It’s difficult to learn a new concept if you don’t understand the subject matter at all, so it’s important to make sure students have some foundational knowledge—like what a plant or an experiment is. This helps to reduce the cognitive load of the activity, making the whole learning process easier.

This initial exploration of the text is simple, but can be super powerful. It gives you the opportunity to gauge your students’ background knowledge, discuss what they already know about the topic, and sets the stage for the next steps in the session.

2. Fill out a KWL Chart

If your students need more support developing background knowledge about the topic, Marisha recommends using a KWL chart.

👉 A KWL chart is split into three segments: in the first column, we write what we know about the topic, in the second column we write what we want to know, and in the third column we write what we learned.

You can fill in each column of the KWL chart with your students, discussing their existing knowledge about the topic, what they’re curious to learn more about, and what they’ve discovered throughout the session.

At SLP Now we love to work smarter, so we want to point out that this activity is language rich! Filling out a KWL chart helps to build background knowledge and targets various language goals like vocabulary, questioning, and grammar. 💪

3. Take a virtual field trip

This is a great activity on its own, and, taking a virtual field trip is also helpful if you’re filling in a KWL chart!

🔍 Looking for a virtual field trip to pair with Miss Johnson’s Plant Experiment?

Try this one!

You can choose the “trip” based on your students’ needs, and it usually involves watching a video or sourcing some images to help provide more visual background knowledge for the test.

A virtual field doesn’t have to be fancy — you can use free resources like YouTube, Google image search, or reference books from the library.

4. Pre-fill a story grammar organizer

The final pre-story knowledge activation activity for this unit is to have students fill a story grammar organizer, which will be put to use again later in the unit. 👀

After going through the previous activities, you can have students do some inferencing and guess what’s going to happen in the article. Based on the knowledge they have so far, they can fill in the organizer with their best guesses about the characters, setting, and the problem they’ll face.

After the article walk, KWL chart, and virtual field trip, your students should have some really good context to help them fill in the story grammar organizer. This activity sets your students up for success by giving them meaningful exposure to the story grammar elements and a framework to work with.

💡 Keep this first story grammar organizer to compare with the second story grammar organizer they create later — based on what actually happens in the text. You can use these visuals to do some compare/contrast or syntax activities!

And that’s a wrap for step one of the literacy-based framework: an article walk, KWL chart, virtual field trip, and pre-filling a graphic organizer.

Remember, you don’t have to do all of these activities to complete step one. Use your clinical judgment, and make choices based on your students needs and goals.

All of these activities are language rich, so you can target any goal — even with mixed groups! There are so many ways to embed practice for grammar skills, vocabulary targets, questions, describing activities, and more. ✨

Step two: Read the article

This is the easiest step in the whole framework, and it’s pretty straight forward. Pull up the article and then read through it!

With this age group, you have a few reading options to consider. Your students may be able to read the article independently, or you can do popcorn reading and have each student read a paragraph. Maybe it makes sense to play an audio version, or for you to read the whole article. You can decide what makes the most sense and what is most engaging for your group.

This step is by far the shortest in the whole unit, and will likely take you about five minutes. Don’t worry about adding any extra activities here — just focus on reading the article and keeping the students engaged. 🙌

Step three: Post-story comprehension.

Like pre-story activation, there are a few different approaches to this step—and each activity is language rich, meaning you can use it to target any goal.

1. Literal questions

It’s common to use literal questions when students have a goal to work on answering WH, but that’s not the end of their application. You can ask basic questions about the article, and target other goals like grammar or vocabulary with the students’ responses.

2. Inferential questions

This is a great activity for elementary students because they’re able to tap into their prior knowledge and reference the text to successfully answer these types of questions. They have an opportunity to build on what they already know, and integrate the new learning.

3. Fill out a story grammar organizer

Pull out the story grammar organizer and run through the elements, asking some WH questions:

  • Who was the story about?
  • When did the story happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What was the problem?
  • Why was that important?

Filling out the story grammar organizer is a language rich activity that you can revisit in multiple steps, and it’s a great bridge to steps four and five. 👇

Step four: Structured skill practice

There are an unlimited number of activities you can use for structured skill practice, and you may spend several sessions on this step. The timing of the sessions and choice of activities depends on your students’ goals and needs — so use your clinical judgement!

One of the activities you can work on is cause and effect questions, because a lot of students have goals in this area. You can generate your own cause and effect questions, or hit the easy button and use the pre-written questions within the SLP Now membership!

You could also do some compare and contrast activities using vocabulary from the article with the story grammar organizers from steps one and three, or identify some fact and opinion statements from the article.

Regardless of the path you choose, this is a language rich activity and can be used to target a wide variety of goals, even in a mixed group. 💪

💡 Within the SLP Now membership, we have materials that identify two tier vocabulary words, multiple meaning word activities, and evidence-backed vocabulary activities. You can target prefixes and suffixes, and we’re in the process of adding syntax activities for all of them.

Start your two week trial membership today!

Of course, there are some limitations within this framework: Marisha admits that she doesn’t love targeting articulation within this unit structure. In a mixed group, she prefers to target articulation separately using a speedy speech model — but that’s not always possible.

In that case there are articulation activities that you can embed in a literacy based unit, like the bundles in SLP Now! We’ve created materials specific to each text, so if you search for Miss Johnson’s Plant Experiment, you’ll find a link to the articulation bundle with specific targets for that article.

The best part about these material bundles is that you can use the articulation targets for your students working on those specific goals, but you can also use them for grammar and vocabulary targets — whatever other goals you’re working on! #WinWinWin

Step five: Create a parallel story.

Throughout this unit, we’ve been revisiting the story grammar organizer again and again. First, we pre-filled the organizer based on the information the students already know. Then, in step three we started filling it out based on what actually happened in the text.

We get another opportunity for exposure in step four, and now in step five, we’re going to work with the structure of the story grammar organizer one more time as the group creates a parallel story.

1. Fill in the story grammar organizer

This time, we’re going to fill the graphic organizer based on the students’ new story, which means the first step is to choose what the story is about!

You can draw inspiration from conversations that happened during the unit: maybe pre-story knowledge activation revealed that a student has done a plant experiment for their class, and we can draw on that for our parallel story. Or, maybe no one has done an experiment but based on what you learned from the article, the students can make up their own plant experiment story.

There are lots of options here, and the best choice is usually the one students are most excited about!

2. Practice retelling the story

Once your students fill in the graphic organizer with their version of the story, everyone in the group will practice retelling the story — even if they don’t have a narrative goal! Remember, these are language rich activities, and story retell is a great opportunity to embed the vocabulary (and other goals!) they’ve been working on throughout the unit.

3. Publish the story

When everyone has practiced retelling the story and hit mastery, we hit publish!

“Publishing” the story can include acting it out — maybe recording a little video — and students can take turns narrating that final story. You can also grab a stack of paper, bind it, and have them illustrate it, or create a digital version using a resource like Google Slides.

This is the part students get most excited about, because they’re so proud of the end result! It’s especially motivating if they’re able to take the end product home and show it off. ☀️

There are so many options to choose from here, and the “right” one is the one that works for your students.

And that brings us to the end of our fiction article unit!

You can find the links to all of the resources mentioned below, and we’ll be back at it next week with our non-fiction article unit.

Happy SLPing!


Links and Additional Resources

Therapy planning and materials


Literacy-based therapy


Research articles

At SLP Now, we are hard workers… but we also like to work smarter.

That means we’re constantly improving our materials, therapy planning resources, and the ways we support SLPs like YOU — so you can skip the hard work part and just work smarter. 👇

Inside the SLP Now membership, you’ll find 400+ therapy plans and an organized library of 4,500+ (and counting!) evidence-backed speech therapy materials to help you differentiate your therapy in a matter of minutes.

How is that possible, you ask?

Because we analyzed all the books, identified the targets, and created unit plan pages that suggest activities based on the skills you’re targeting and your students’ needs. This is the one stop shop for all your literacy-based therapy needs, including resources for virtual field trips and visuals to help those concepts stick. All you have to do is click! 🥳

We’re always hard chill at work building out our materials library and adding resources that will save you even more time, so you can spend it doing the things that matter most to you. (Not paperwork. 😅)

You can absolutely implement literacy-based therapy without SLP Now — there are so many free resources out there! — but if you want to cut down the time spent planning and get support from a community of SLPs who are in the trenches with you, it might be the right time to try a membership!

You can sign up for a two week trial that is risk-free and free-free → We won’t even ask for your credit card so there’s no worry about an unexpected subscription!

We’ve talked about so many activity options during this series… but there are even more literacy-based ideas and evidence-based resources waiting for you on the other side of SLP Now. 🤗

🌻 Not sure where to start, or which unit best suits your caseload? No problem!

Take a quick two-minute quiz, and we’ll send you a personalized list of recommended units based on your specific caseload needs — plus resources to help you implement the activities we talk about in this series.

Click here to get your recommended therapy plans



Subscribe to the SLP Now podcast and stay tuned for our next series. We’re kicking off September by helping you get your data collection, paperwork, and therapy planning processes in tip-top shape! 💪

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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. This week we are diving into another month long therapy unit. We are doing a series of six episodes where we break down month long units for your entire school age caseload from preschool through 12th grade. And this week we are diving into a fiction article. This unit is ideal for older students who still benefit from narrative support, and there is tons of research supporting targeting narratives even through high school. There's been some really cool studies, and I will share a couple of resources in the show notes so you can learn a little bit more.

And then if you're not quite sure which unit type is ideal for your caseload as you're listening to these episodes, check out the show notes and those 185 again 185 and you will find a link to a two minute quiz that once you take that we will send you a recommended list of units for your specific caseload. And like I said, there will be resources about targeting narratives and tons of other resources as I mentioned them throughout this episode. So hopefully that is super helpful. And now we get to dive into the actual unit. We are going to be reading Miss Johnson's plant experiment. It is a fiction article that is available for free on read works and I will share the link to that resource in the show notes as well.

And again, they 185 and it is an article about some students who conduct a plant experiment. And we'll walk through the five steps of the literacy based therapy framework. Doctor Ukraine it's framework and I will share different activity ideas for each of the five steps. And the cool thing about this framework is that you can target any goal, literally any goal, using this text. And the cool thing about this is that it's very contextualized practice and it's very meaningful for students and that can really facilitate generalization and all the things I could talk about literacy based therapy for hours and hours. So in the show notes, I'll just share some quick resources that will be helpful. Anyway, let's dive into step one, which is pre story knowledge activation.

There are four things that I like to do, like a menu of options that I generally choose from. And this list is not comprehensive, but they're just some of my favorites. So the first step is to do an article walk where we'll pull up the article. They typically have a little photo at the top and then the title, and then we might skim a couple of the paragraphs. And then I will just ask the students what they know about the topic and kind of ask a couple questions and see how much background knowledge they have. If they really struggle with the article walk, then I will take a step back. And I really like to use a KWL chart.

So this is where you split a piece of paper into like, you draw three columns on a piece of paper, and the k stands for what they know, w stands for what they want to learn, and l stands for what they learned. So as we're going through, we can kind of fill in the k column about what they already know. So what do they know about plants? What do they know about plant experiments? What do they want to know about plants and plant experiments? And then as we go through the next steps, we can fill in the l column about what they learned. And this is a great way to build that background knowledge, which will be critical as we dive into the different language skills as we go through.

It'll help with their grammar, it'll help with being able to make inferences, all of that good stuff. So that's what we've got for the KWL chart. So one thing that we might do to help fill in that chart is to do a virtual field trip. I will include an example of a virtual field trip that you might use for this unit in the show notes. But I like to pick out a virtual field trip based on my students needs and just to take a quick step back. A virtual field trip is typically just a YouTube video. There are some other resources that you can use for those quote unquote virtual field trips, but it's just a video that gives students a little bit more background knowledge.

You could also pull like research articles or not research articles, but you could pull non fiction picture books. Or you can do a Google search and find some educational resources there as well. But I really like the YouTube video because it helps they get to experience it a little bit more than they might just by looking at some pictures. So I really enjoy those. And then the last activity that I like to do is to have students pre fill story grammar organizer. So after doing those different activities, I will have them guess what is going to happen in the article. So they'll fill in like who the characters are, what the setting is, what they think the problem will be, and it's really an inferencing activity.

But after doing that article walk using the KWL chart, filling them with a virtual field trip, they'll have some really good context to help them with that activity. And I like this because it gives them increased exposure to the story grammar elements and it helps give them a little bit of a framework before we dive in. And especially with older students, we'll keep this first story grammar organizer and compare it to the actual story grammar organizer for the actual story, like what actually happens. And there's some really nice compare and contrast. This is great for some different syntax activities. Oh my goodness, so many good things. That is step one. So just to recap, we do an article walk, a KWL chart, the virtual field trip, and then we pre fill the story grammar organizer and use your clinical judgment.

You don't have to do all these activities. And you may need to do multiple virtual field trips depending on the student's needs. And remember, all of these activities are language rich, so we can target any goal throughout all of these activities. And sometimes that might just look like modeling and recasting the grammar and vocabulary targets, but other times they're responding to questions, they're using vocabulary words. There's so many opportunities to embed practice for those skills. So that is step one. And if you're curious about kind of more of the nitty gritty details of how each session is structured and how do you know which tips like, especially if you have a mixed group with a bunch of students and a bunch of goals, how do you know what to target?

I will share some resources in the show notes as well on how I structure a session and how I decide what to focus on and kind of how I organize that. Like if you have a group of three students and they all have four different goals, how in the world would you target those twelve goals in the context? I get that would be overwhelming. So check out the show notes for the link to some session structure resources to help you with that. And now we get to dive into step two, which is reading. That's the easiest step in the whole framework. You would just pull up the article and then read through it. And at this level, students may be able to read these independently.

Maybe you want to do popcorn reading where each student reads a paragraph, or maybe it just makes sense for you to read the whole paragraph or the whole article. You can decide what makes the most sense and what is most engaging for your group. And in this step, you just read through the article. This is by far the shortest step in the whole unit. It will likely take you about five minutes. You don't want to add a bunch of extra stuff here. Just focus on reading the article and just making sure that students are engaged during the reading, but you don't need to add anything else. So then that brings us to step three, which is post story comprehension. And there are three main areas that I will focus on for step three. The first one is literal questions.

And again, I'm going to emphasize this again, every activity that I list is language rich and you can use it to target any goal. So yes, we may have students in our group who have a goal to work on answering WH questions about a story, but we may not. But this is still a helpful activity because we can use it to when they're responding to these questions, we are able to target those grammar, vocabulary, articulation, any of those types of goals we can still use. So literal questions are just basic questions about the story. Then we can also ask inferential questions. I really like this activity for this age group too, because we did do that prior knowledge and so that'll give them, they're able to reference the text and use the prior knowledge that they've built to successfully answer these types of questions.

So I love this combination in the structure of the unit. I think it works out really well. Another idea for a comprehension activity is story grammar. So you can pull out that story grammar organizer and just run through the elements and ask wh questions. Who was the story about? When did the story happen? Where did it happen? What was the problem? Run through those questions and I often revisit the story grammar story retell in step four and step five of the unit. So this is a great kind of bridge activity to lead them to that. And again, we can target all of our students goals throughout this activity as well. Then that brings us to step four, which is the structured skill practice. And there are an unlimited number of activities that we could use in this step.

We can spend several sessions diving into all of the student skills. So I am just going to share a couple ideas. And then one cool thing about the SLP now membership is that we have a bunch of activities linked. We have a page for every therapy plan. We have over 400 therapy plans. We've been working really hard. And then we have a unit plan page that lists activities. So it will list all of the different things you could do for step one, step two, step three, step four. And then we also have activities linked. And there's a mix of just click and go like Google Slides types of materials, some of them are PDF's, some of them are interactive materials. There are lots and lots of options for you to have easy access to those activities.

But for the skill section, we've analyzed all of the books and identified all of the targets. So like all the articulation words, all of the prefixes, suffixes, all the grammar structures, all the syntax stuff. And we're constantly building this out and adding more resources to save you tons of time, because implementing literacy based therapy really isn't very difficult. But it can make a world of a difference to have easy access to all of the activities to target your student specific goals. It just makes it so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time, and it cuts down your planning time significantly. So you can absolutely implement this on your own.

But if you are looking for a little bit of support, head to unit and you can sign up for a totally free trial, no credit card required, and you can go to therapy plans tab. Type in Miss Johnson's plan experiment, and then you will have access to the unit plan, all the targets, all of the materials, and you'll have everything that you need to implement this right away without any prep. So like I said, we'll dive into a couple activity ideas, but know that there are way more ideas and resources waiting for you. Some ideas are working on cause and effect questions, so this can a lot of our students might have goals around this, and so there are some pre written cause and effect questions. I'm sure you could generate your own cause and effect questions.

We also have some compare and contrast activities, so we in terms of vocabulary. So we've selected some vocabulary from the article and created some compare and contrast activities. And then you can also compare and contrast your story grammar organizers from step one and step three. So that's a great activity. We've also identified some fact and opinion statements from the article, and that can be a really fun activity for students working on those types of goals. But again, it's also a very language rich activity, so you can still pull this activity and target your students other goals as well. We've identified tier two vocabulary words and have multiple meaning word activities and evidence backed vocabulary activities to help you work through those. We've identified the prefixes and suffixes and have really cool activities to help you target those.

We're working on adding syntax activities for all of them. So if you need support with embedded clauses and all of that good stuff, you'll have some ready to go resources for that as well. And then I don't always love when I have to target articulation in a mixed group. I really prefer to target articulation separately, using like, a speedy speech model or something like that. But we know that's not always possible. And so we have articulation activities, like little articulation bundles that are specific for every article and book. And so you can, if you go to Miss Johnson's plant experiment, you can find the articulation bundle there, and it has article specific targets.

And again, you can use these articulation targets for your students working on those articulation goals, but you can also use them for grammar and vocabulary targets or whatever other goals you're working on. And then that brings us to step five, which is creating a parallel story. So throughout the unit, we've been revisiting the story grammar organizer, and in step three, we kind of started filling it out. And then in step four is when we would have continued to practice that. And then in step five, we would revisit the story grammar organizer for the article, and then we would work as a group to create our own story. So the first thing I would do is have them fill in the graphic organizer for their new story, and they get to choose what the story is about.

If throughout the unit, a lot of stuff will come up. And so maybe they did a plant experiment in their class, or maybe they want to do a plant experiment, and they can make up a story about what that would be like. So there's lots of options there. And then once we fill in the organizer with their version of the story, then everyone in the group will practice retelling the story, even if they don't have a narrative goal. This is a really great opportunity to embed all of their vocabulary and just all of the goals that we've been working on throughout the entire unit. Everyone works on retelling the story until they hit mastery, and then we publish it. And publishing the story can include acting it out and maybe recording a little video.

And then students can take turns narrating that final story, or we can grab a stack of paper and kind of bind it and have them illustrate it, or we can do a digital version using like, Google Slides or anything like that. I did a whole podcast episode just on parallel stories, so I will share that in the show notes as well. So that wraps up the ideas for our fiction article again. Head to SLP 185 to check out all of the resources that I mentioned, and we'll see you next week. 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.




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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