As Speech Language Pathologists in the school setting, ASHA includes literacy and reading in our scope of practice. While SLPs are equipped to teach many literacy skills (e.g. decoding, comprehension), the question often arises: how is our role different than the role of a reading interventionist?
While serving as school based SLPs, we try to write many language IEP goals to align with curriculum-based measures and Common Core Standards. In addition, we often collaborate with other disciplines to write goals that target both auditory and reading comprehension. Then, we use books and/or curriculum as a platform for language-building activities.
Here are some sample IEP annual goals and ideas on how to target these goals:
GOAL 1: By the next annual review, after listening to or reading a grade level passage, the student will provide the main idea and 3 details for 4/5 passages (optional: when provided teacher prompting.)
Data Collection: Since this is a goal that should be targeted by the Special Education Teacher and the SLP, dividing data collection makes work more equitable. Consider having the teacher collect data on reading comprehension, while the SLP collects data on listening comprehension.
Therapy Ideas: If a student really struggles identifying main idea from details, start small. Look at one individual sentence. What are the key meaning words in the sentence? Highlight the words, and then have the student summarize the sentence using his own words. For many students, you'll find that this is extremely challenging. Once a student can successfully identify the key words of one sentence, move on to a short paragraph. In lieu of telling the student that the main idea is usually in the first paragraph, have the student find the main idea within several paragraphs and highlight them. Then, see if the student can identify the importance of topic sentences on his own by comparing the highlighting across several passage. With highlighted key words in a paragraph, ask the student to summarize in his own language.
GOAL 2: By the next annual review, when provided a compare-contrast text, the student will state one similarity and one difference over 4/5 trials.
Data Collection: Consider expanding this goal to also include writing if appropriate. As an SLP, you can collect data on oral responses, and the Special Education Teacher or Occupational Therapist can track written responses.
Therapy Ideas: First, ask a student to tell you how two familiar objects are the same and different (e.g. banana, apple). Does the student use compare words (e.g. both, and) and contrast words (e.g. but)? If not, start by comparing/contrasting simple objects and model the language needed. The Expanding Expressions Toolkit provides an excellent multi-sensory framework to aide the entire process.
Once a student is successful with simple objects, move onto paragraphs. First, teach the student how to identify the text structure. Teaching key transition words is a good idea. Have the student become a detective and "search" for these transition words. Highlight them. How do words like "by contrast" or "although"' mean that something is opposite?
Use simple graphic organizers to help visually organize information. Then, have students use the information and key transition words to formulate similarities/differences. Take data across several dates to achieve the goal, with each day targeting just one or two passages.
GOAL 3: By the next annual review, the student will orally formulate a narrative story that includes 5 story elements (character, setting, problem, solution, emotional reaction).
Data Collection: As with GOAL 2, if extending to writing is appropriate, consider dividing data collection with other service providers.
Therapy Ideas: To visually scaffold narratives, we recommend Mindwings Story Grammar Marker. Here are many free resources for this product. To target narratives, we recommend starting with simple fairy tales such as the Three Pigs or Red Riding Hood. Fairy tales often retain a simple narrative structure with 3 story events. Using the Mindwings visual organizers, help children identify each of the key components in the story, and summarize in their own words. Once a child can successfully summarize narratives, move on to more difficult stories. The Clifford Series, Berenstein Bears are good second level choices. Teach students to look for text structure clues. How are a narrative and expository different?
This goal can be simultaneously worked on through open ended story creation. However, we've found that it's usually easier to use written texts first to teach text structure.
GOAL 4: By the next annual review, the student will answer 4/5 literal comprehension questions after listening/reading to a grade level passage.
Data Collection: As with GOAL 1, consider dividing data collection between reading and listening comprehension.
Therapy Ideas: Students may struggle to answer literal questions for several reasons:
- They don't understand the vocabulary in a passage.
- They can't remember the information from the text.
- They don't understand the question.
In order to differentiate between these possible causes, ask the student many literal questions. For the questions that he misses, show the student where the answer is within the text. Once the sentence with the answer is located, can the student answer the question? If yes, then memory of details is probably the issue. If not, ask the student to tell you in his own words what the question is asking. If he can, then vocabulary/concepts within the passage may be causing difficulties. If he can't, he may have trouble understanding the question.
First, teach the student how to recognize his own difficulty and how to advocate for help. Saying "I don't understand this question" or "what does this word mean" is much more effective than "I don't know." Also, teach the student how to recognize what the question is asking. A strategy called Question Answer Relationships (QAR) can be effective for teaching question answering strategies. Literal questions are "right there" questions. If a student struggles with memory, then practice skimming a text for key words can help the student.
GOAL 5: By the next annual review, the student will orally formulate an expository passage that contains a main idea and 3 supporting details.
Data Collection: As with GOAL 2 and GOAL 3, if targeting writing is appropriate, consider sharing data collection with other service providers.
Therapy ideas: Students with language difficulties often have trouble composing organized, fully developed written passages. We recommend using the program SQ Write to help solve these problems. SQ Write teaches students to self-question in order to organize and develop thoughts. The idea is that students with language difficulties are not using internal language to guide the writing process. SQ write has students compose wh-questions and then answer them in order to write more. The program also has students identify how ideas are related in order to develop topic sentences.
For example, the teacher may ask the student to write a passage about his summer. First, the student has to generate several wh-questions using the word "summer." The student might ask, "What did I do this summer? Who did I see this summer? What was fun this summer?" The student then chooses what question he knows the most about and asks more questions on the chosen topic.
If the student choses the topic "fun things this summer," the student must then make up questions using the words "fun" and "summer." Some examples:
- Who + fun+ summer = Who did I have fun with this summer? Who did I do fun things with this summer?
- Where + fun + summer = Where did I go for fun this summer? Where did fun things happen this summer?
Again, the student chooses the question that he knows the most about and answers the question. For example, the student might answer "Where did I go for fun this summer?" with "The pool, arcade, my friend's house."
SQ write helps students organize their self-generated questions into a graphic organizer that takes them from simple paragraphs to multiple paragraphs. In the simplest form, the information above could be organized into:
"This summer I did many fun things. First, I went to the pool. I also went to an arcade and my friend's house. "
We've found that the SQ Write system can teach children with language difficulties to write organized 5 paragraph expository essays within just a few months. For further information, a link to a webinar on SQ Write can be found here under Executive Function Approach to Writing.
Within the school setting, reading decoding work is best left to the reading specialists. However, SLPs can and should target language through both written and oral outputs.
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ASHA Roles and Responsibilities of the Speech Language Pathologist in Regards to Reading and Writing http://www.asha.org/policy/PS2001-00104/