In our jobs, it is the expectation that we address the greatest needs of the classroom. That is what special education is for right? To support and enable academic growth.
We spend a lot of time looking for ways to further support our little guys. When it comes to literacy, I would like to make the case that speech therapy and literacy goals already overlap and we are already doing a pretty good job. However, we probably aren’t doing a good job letting people know just how well we are supporting them.
Take a look at this chart. Any of these words look familiar to you?
Of course they do. Speech therapy and literacy goals are often one in the same. In this post, let’s talk a little bit about literacy. Then in next week’s post, we will present all the ammunition you need to show how your hard work ALREADY supports literacy.
Flex your Language Expertise
Understanding the symbiotic relationship between reading difficulties and communication development helps practitioners design and implement appropriate intervention programs for monolingual and bilingual children. Many students who exhibit communication disorders often have difficulties acquiring reading skills. By understanding language development and reading skill acquisition, therapy can be targeted to meet underlying oral language needs in conjunction with reading fluency and comprehension skills. Such an approach enables SLPs to apply language expertise to struggles in reading.
One of the key goals in elementary education is teaching children to read. Acquiring reading skills is based on two basic areas:
In early elementary school, instruction focuses on learning phonemes, rhyming and decoding simple words to apply meaning. As children reach the later elementary school years, students have developed reading fluency, the ability to decode with fluidity, and are building their syntax, semantics and discourse skills. Reading acquisition requires the integration of many skills, including but not limited to, sound-symbol awareness, automaticity in word recognition, vocabulary skills, and understanding of morphological and syntactic structures. Reading skills also transfer to writing skills in which children apply knowledge of sounds to write words, and practice their knowledge of morphology and syntax to formulate sentences to describe, define, and analyze. A variety of resources show that children’s elementary reading abilities are used as predictors for future reading abilities, high school dropout rates, and the ability for children to communicate effectively, (Lipka, 2007; Morais, 1998).
Another element of reading success is related to reading comprehension. Some language models show that while reading fluency and decoding skills are a component of reading comprehension, children also need to gain knowledge of morphology, oral vocabulary, syntax, phonological memory and aspects of discourse, (Teal, 1986). Children need to understand the structures, actively access vocabulary, and interpret incoming information from spoken and written sources, (Lesaux, 2003).
Because reading abilities require the application of a spoken language system to a written system, many spoken language skills are already targeted in speech therapy and literacy. This is how we help build a foundation for stronger reading skills.
Where Speech Therapy and Literacy Meet
In order to best support students with speech, language and reading deficits, we need to address reading and writing foundations. Assessing our intervention and modifying the focus of intervention can ensure more effective outcomes for student success with BOTH speech therapy AND literacy.
According to current research, children with speech and language difficulties often present with co-occurring reading difficulties, (Berninger, 2008), so speech language pathologists working in all settings, but especially in schools, can support students’ reading acquisition and comprehension through their intervention.
Children with language delays often need more frequent instruction that is shorter in duration, and can also benefit from modifications in complexity to accommodate language processing, (Verhoeven, 2004).
ASHA has some great resources: ASHA’s Literacy Gateway (Reading and Writing)
Next week, check out our post: How Speech Therapy Supports Reading Acquisition
It’s Time to Write Speech Therapy Goals
You have completed your evaluation and it’s time to write your report. You are sitting in an office/portable/corner of the library. The crescendo of a familiar concert is getting louder–assessment results, deadline dates and professional judgement are all playing their song. Now, it’s time to commit and write speech therapy goals and objectives.
4 Tips to Write Speech Therapy Goals that Rock
So, where do you start?
- Keep the timeline in mind. Remember, we write speech therapy goals to be mastered in a certain amount of time. For those in home health and clinics, goals typically need to be mastered in 3-6 months. Lack of mastery conveys that efforts were not productive, and reauthorization of speech therapy is denied. For those working in the schools, you need mastery by the end of the IEP-year. Continuing the same goals would show that your efforts have not been successful. So, this is permission to not select goals for all weakness demonstrated on the evaluation. Refine your efforts.
- Determine Mutual Goals. Before choosing goals, find out what is important to the family. Within a school setting, find out what skills would be valuable for the classroom teacher. Then, look at your assessment results. With input from the child’s VIPs, you will be addressing the most meaningful communication needs. For adult clients, get their input and priorities, as well.
- Measure It. How do you know when the goal/objective has been mastered? Is it a percentage (%) or trials (7/10 opportunities or across time (e.g, 5/5 story grammar components across 3 consecutive sessions)?
- Address Functional Goals. What is considered functional? These are the skills that are needed daily across settings (e.g., school, home, community). Remember, an assessment may say that the child is unable to use a verb in present progressive form; however, that does not mean that it’s the most functional goal to address. If the 4-year-old is typically using nouns to label common objects, then working on noun and verb combinations would yield more meaningful outcomes across the child’s day.
SLPs, you’ve definitely got the right stuff to write great goals. We’ve been around this block a few times, and we have skills. Now, you can enjoy your concert of speech and language progress. Do you hear that sound? It’s the roar of your fellow SLPs cheering you on and on on.
And if you don’t want to write speech therapy goals yourself, know that we have done it for you in Spanish and English. Click on the image to check it out.
I love alliteration. Speech-Language Pathologists speak soundly! Communication can conquer! However, for some reason, the words Common Core brings forth fear SLPs. For those who live in my state of Texas, this refers to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). For a majority of states in the United States, this refers to as the Common Core State Standards.
First, let’s talk about the law. Here are the three parts that we need to know:
- FAPE: All children need to have a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
- Access to the General Education: This means that all Individual Education Plans (IEPs) need to align to the general education curriculum.
- Least Restrictive Environment: Students should be provided special education services in the least restrictive environments.
Today we are going to talk about law #2. Because our IEPs need to consider the sentiments of the grade level curriculum, we are required to align them. So, that means that the goals of fourth grader working on his receptive and expressive language goals need to relate to this fourth grade state adopted curriculum standards. What?! We did not go to graduate school to do this. Where do I find the my state’s standards? My student is in the Life Skills classroom…is this appropriate?
Aligning to Curriculum
I promise that this goal is easier to accomplish than one may think. Here is the most important takeaway. We are speech-LANGUAGE pathologists. That means we are the experts in all-things-language. Speech-language therapy is a part of all academic curriculums. So, rest easy. By doing your job, you are likely addressing their curriculum expectations. Here is what you need to do:
- Talk to Grade Level Teachers: They can tell you EXACTLY the standards for their grade level. Tuck away the information. Voila! You have information for your students for that grade level for the remainder of your career.
- Specifically, check out your state standards for English Language Arts. I guarantee you will see very similar goals for speech-language therapy. This is where we get the most bang out of our time, and we are following the law of the land! Here are examples:
- With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
- With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
- Fifth Grade
- Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
- Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
- Twelfth Grade
- Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
- Address the same topics/subjects as your general education teacher. This is surely alignment to the grade level curriculum.
- This could be reading the same books. For me, I like to get the names of the books about a month beforehand. This way, I work on the book with my speechy, magical skills (a.k.a., scaffolding, differentiating), and my student gets repeated exposure to the grade level book.
- This could be talking about the same historical figures. For example, I had a student in the Life Skills classroom with an intellectual disability. His 11th grade peers were learning about Ghandi. So, I made sure he learned about Ghandi. While focusing on Core Vocabulary, I made a book for him. If you want to learn more about Core Vocabulary, you can check out a link to our post here. Here’s what it looked like:
We Have Done the Work for You, SLPs.
So, SLPs, you’ve got this whole Curriculum Standards thing. If you would like a list of common curriculum standards related to speech-language therapy, check out our Storybook Intervention E-Book. Click below. It’s 60 pages of templates and tools (for only $10) to use with all ages to implement literacy-based interventions. Best part? It has lists of some of favorite books (for all ages) that are aligned to curriculum-based standards.