ASHA’s Covid 19 Guidelines for Services in the Schools

17 Jul

Parents, of student’s who receive special education services and have an Individual Education Program or IEP, should ask about their schools policy on providing services. Parents can have an impact on how policy is followed. Administrators of an education system often lack awareness of the duties and medical aspects of SLPs and think they can just follow the same school policy as classroom teachers. In this case, it may place the SLPs and students in greater jeopardy.

hand sanitizer

The American Speech and Language Association (ASHA) has released their guidelines for Speech and Language Pathologist, (SLP) and Audiologist working in the schools. They follow the CDC recommendations on how to create a safe environment as we deal with COVID-19. Local recommendations may be somewhat different depending on what is happening in your local area. I think it is important for SLPs as well as parents who have student’s receiving speech therapy services to be aware of this document as students return to school.

Of course there will be obstacles to overcome. Here are some of the highlights. I hope it encourages you to read the more indepth document; Click on this link here to read the entire ASHA document. Some of the highlights are below.

It is recommended that administrators provide school-based professionals with appropriate PPE such as desktop plexiglass screens, gloves, clear face masks, and eye protection.  We are one profession where eye contact and the ability to work with the mouth is important. A cloth face mask will not always be adequate. Children with a hearing disability are one example of where the child needs to see your face. Also the SLP needs to see and hear a child’s voice unmuffled by a face mask for articulation therapy. This means the SLP is not protected well.

cute character wearing protective facial covering mask

The CDC recommends that SLPs work with the same group of children day to day. This would be a major shift from what has been the duties of the SLP. Prior to COVID 19, SLPs often saw multiple students from multiple classrooms, and worked in multiple buildings in a district. They often observe, test students or monitor paraprofessionals in more than one building or classroom. Their schedule is back to back sessions in order to accommodate all the students . Lets just say what was normal scheduling before will not work.

There are new considerations for scheduling that are more time consuming. Students on the SLP, caseload often include the more vulnerable health risks that may need to be seen individually for their safety. There will need to be time in the schedule to sanitize materials. There will need to be increased materials so they are not shared between students when there is more than one student at a time.

Social Distancing
Maintain Social Distancing

The rooms need to be adequate for space and meet sanitary needs. SLPs are often assigned small windowless rooms with inadequate ventilation. In some rooms, there is not enough room for two people to be 4 ft. apart. This means group therapy sessions will not be possible. In some cases two people is too many. I have experienced using the building materials closet, and stage behind the curtain so this is our reality. It is also recommended that there be an area for use of hand sanitizer as students enter and a source for frequent hand washing. Now, we may actually have a valid reason for getting that bigger better equipped room with air circulation.

ASHA did suggest that some places may want to use use tele-therapy to overcome obstacles of time and space. I could see where a combination of services could be employed. The use of digital services has already grown considerably for classrooms and speech therapy. Looking at the brighter side of things. We may be able to implement some practices that will improve services in the future and improve our profession in the schools.

The Sour Pig Clip Art

The Importance of Developing Meta Linguistic Awareness

2 Jul
Climb to the top

Vocabulary instruction has gone through some significant changes over the years.  Some of you may recall when students  were assigned a list of words, often the spelling list, and then required to write the definitions.   A lot of students detested the tedious task of looking  up words and copying definitions.  Often the words in the definition were hard to relate too, so it became a copying task with little benefit to learning the definitions.  Education theory has moved on to promoting meta linguistic awareness. Developing meta linguistic awareness can be especially beneficial when developing vocabulary. Research has revealed that promoting  higher level thinking skills increases retention of information and allows students to integrate what they have learned.  

    For those of you who may need a refresher; Meta linguistic language  skills are strategies that are applied, either consciously or automatically, to an oral or written linguistic interaction to allow one to think about language.  It is our ability to think about language and manipulate it beyond it’s written structure.  Remember the knock knock jokes and riddles  young  children attempt to tell around  6 yrs. of age.  They often lack  the punch line because they don’t grasp the idea of double meaning words.  This is the age when children are just starting to figure out that words and phrases  can be manipulated.  When they acquire this thinking ability, they are demonstrating meta linguistic awareness.

  Studies have found that  reading comprehension and meta linguistic skills are strongly linked (Achugar, Schleppegrell, & OteĆ­za, 2007).  If we want to get the most value from our teaching, we want students to develop thinking skills that  can be adapted to various situations.  You may have known a student or two who was an early  reader with above average reading skills in the early grades.  Although they were great sight readers in the early grades , they often faltered in the later elementary years.   They could  read the words individually but had difficulty comprehending within the text.  As the paragraphs and sentence structure became more complex there were often hidden meanings.  Things like double meaning words, satire, and unusual phrasing tripped them up.  Students exhibited difficulties with meta linguistic development could not adapt to the word meaning changes that occurred within context.

          So what does this mean when we are working with our students?  It means we want to encourage our students to think about language, be flexible, and think about if it makes sense within the context.  It is more than reading  a string of words.   The word meaning they memorized may not always work in every context.   They need to think about a variety of possible  meanings to get the best fit.  It means we want them to question, make associations, compare descriptive features, and contrast meanings.  We encourages students to be active thinkers and  in the process the information stays with them.

      For examples of speech activities using meta linguistics tasks, go to the top navigation heading and click on the section labeled Vocabulary.   Making word association is a great task for encouraging meta linguist skills. There is a good sampling of cards for download in that section.    There are free previews so that you can try some of them out with your students. You can get a pretty good tool box by just downloading all the previews and free cards.  Click on the star for a free preview and download of the Word Association Bundle. Click on the blue print for a direct link to TPT. The cards on TPT are available with the digital down load overlays and self checking with bar codes that work with the task cards or digitally.

Finding what is wrong with Silly Sentences is another activity that forces students to think about facts and how words relate to each other. It provides opportunities for students to recognized when the meaning doesn’t fit and not take it at face value. This is an important skill for today when we are bombarded constantly with false facts in social media. There are several sets of those for free downloads in the vocabulary section. I hope the activities in vocabulary section help you to explore and enhance the way you work on vocabulary development with your students.

More Comprehension of Complex Sentence Cards

22 Jan

My Comprehension of Complex Sentence task cards are a popular item and I have received some requests for more. I created another set that are a little more difficult from the first. They are appropriate for upper elementary to middle school language learners. It is a great way to add 36 more cards and allow for pretest and post test. You can see if they do well with the 2nd deck after working with the first.

They are similar to the first deck. Target words are presented within the context of a short paragraph, three to five sentences in length. The paragraphs are a little longer than in set 1. A comprehension question is asked to target words that are often found in complex sentences. Words specifically targeted  include; neither/nor, either/or, instead, usually, unless, if/then, except, both, after, before, while, when, any, until, during, although, early, later,  first, last, between, and middle.

I am posting the first 9 task cards so you can test them out. Click on the star image below to get the trial cards. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement or if there are more words that should be added. I always appreciate your feed back. you can contact me by using the comment bubble by post heading. I read comments before they are posted to avoid spam, so don’t be concerned if you don’t see your comment immediately.

The full set can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. It consists of 36 double sided cards. The right side folded under the left side provides an answer when the card is  flipped over. You can also separate the prompt from the answer card for some activities. They make good draw cards for student games.

Direct link to TPT

Paper Candy Cane Directions for Students

12 Dec

I know you are about ready for a break and busy finishing up those odds and ends. I thought I would help by providing a low prep project to keep a few students busy while others might be finishing up work. Click on the cover picture below and you will find a PDF file with step by step directions on making a paper candy cane.

click on image to follow link.

You can possibly download it for individual students on iPads or put it up on a overhead for all to see. Students love to see the way the stripes magically appear. They end up making several of them. They add some festivity on the end of a pencil.

Happy Holidays everyone and get rested for the New Year!

A Start to the New School Year for Speech Students

26 Aug

We often start the new school year trying to get acquainted with our students. There are the new incoming students you know nothing about except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. If there is more than that, often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t that accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get the last progress report.

Then there are the parents who want to give their child a fresh start in a new school and see if anyone will notice prior difficulties if nothing is said. This is usually the child with behavior challenges among other things. Don’t worry! The teacher will seek you out within the first couple of days.

I love those parents that have kept all the paperwork in a file folder and can give you up to date and missing copies. In some cases, technology has improved things by linking records across schools but sometimes it still takes awhile before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out student needs so you can get that schedule written.

Then there are your former students. There are your 1st graders working on sibilants who are sporting missing front teeth or new braces. That stubborn /r/ difficulty may have clicked in but you need to find that out because of course that child’s paperwork is due to be renewed the first couple of weeks of school. The best are those who were unintelligible a year or so ago and now speak clearly. The new teacher questions why they have speech on their records.

To start out the new year, I usually haul out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and I get an idea of where to start. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you can often find at Target, The Dollar Store or any party favors section. It would also be possible to use a dice or spinner with numbers. The questions can be written on a sheet of paper and numbered. I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.

To prepare for this, I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6. I make a corresponding list of numbers and have the students brainstorm conversation starters.

For example at the beginning of the school year they may come up with questions such as:

1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?

The students take turns throwing the ball at the target and then answering the questions according to the number area hit. The other students are then required to ask a follow up question according to the answer and topic.

I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.

I hope you find this post useful and have a good beginning to your school year.