Monday, July 15, 2013

Vocabulary Instruction: a presentation for teachers

After I presented to our staff on language impairment (You can find that presentation HERE!), I had a teacher come find me with a cool vocabulary dictionary to share. She told me that I could present it to our staff if I thought it was a good resource. I suggested that we present it together (collaboration, yes!) and used it as an opportunity to provide more professional development to our teachers on the topic of vocabulary, an area that lots of our language kids work on in speech-language therapy.

And that's how Part 2 of my professional development presentation for our teachers came about:

I had just read an AWESOME book: Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Beck, McKeown, and Kuchan (2002), which has been referenced in TONS of academic and professional circles. 

If you haven't checked this one out, you should! I came across it first in some of my online research. Then, one of my principals listed it as one of her favorite books in a staff e-mail. And at that point, I knew I had to have it and with a 1-click stop in my Amazon shop, the book quickly arrived on my doorstep. The book was also mentioned in one of my ASHA sessions last November in Atlanta. It's everywhere!

Bringing Words to Life was the basis for the following slides and talking points. So part 2, here we go!

A quick overview to start:

I highlighted the key points from my previous presentation on language impairment that were related to vocabulary.

Also included was some pretty 
important research with some pretty big implications:

And then I talked about the relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension, which is a big struggle for a lot of language-impaired kids. 

My example was this: 

Take this paragraph and pretend 
you don't know the red underlined words...

...which would mean you're essentially reading this:

Now given that, can you answer main idea/detail or inference questions about it? Probably not.

Then I introduced Bringing Words to Life, which has practical suggestions for both 1) what to teach and 2) how to teach vocabulary.

The authors note that conventional wisdom teaches us that we learn vocabulary from context. Before entering school, kids learn from an oral context. Once kids get to school, there is a shift in focus to acquiring words from written text. There are several state and common core standards based on using context-clues to learn words.

The authors argue that oral language contexts are much more conducive to learning vocabulary because of the added intonation and meaning available. Using written text as the primary source for vocabulary acquisition becomes even more of an issue for struggling readers. 

If a kid can't decode very well and most of the brain power is focused on figuring out what the word is, the chances that he or she is learning what the word means is probably slim to none.

Even with good decoding skills, not every word meaning can be deduced based on the context. 

See the below example:

...hard to tell the tone of that paragraph unless you already know what the word grudgingly means.

The authors introduce Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 words. Tier 2 words are the academic words that are especially important for reading comprehension.

The authors recommend the following:

When the authors write about student-friendly definitions, they say that longer definitions with lots of information are better for leaning and understanding words than some standard dictionary definitions. 

For example, take a look at the word disrupt in the following example:

...words may be commonly misused if a standard dictionary definition doesn't capture the essence of the word. Student-friendly definitions are preferred!

At the end, I brought the information back to the classroom and encouraged teachers to 1) read the book if they were interested, and 2) have rich verbal environments in the classroom to benefit not just kids with a language impairment, but all kids!

Teachers can:

  • Teach the kids to pay attention to new words
  • Connect with words beyond just the classroom
  • Use various dictionaries: unabridged, learner 
  • Use vocabulary words in morning meetings and on notes
  • Have a word of the day
  • Use crosswords and scrabble games to make vocabulary fun and exciting

...teach kids to love words! What ways do you create rich-verbal environments in your speech and language rooms? What ways do you see teachers doing this in the classrooms? I'm curious!

And so ends my PD Presentation Part 2. My principal has already requested a part 3 presentation on a new topic for next year, so stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!

Mrs. Ludwig

p.s. As I've written this, I just found a post that was written by Jenn over at Crazy Speech World about how she collaborated with a teacher to create student-friendly definitions based on Beck, McKeown, & Kucan's work. Love it! Check it out HERE! :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PD Presentation Pt. 1: Language Impairment

I am more than just the "speech teacher" (as I am commonly referred to at my schools). I am a "speech and language teacher". Actually, I am a "speech, language, and literacy teacher"! Sometimes I wonder if I should start advocating for the new title "speech and language teacher" to help build my SLP brand as a language specialist within my schools. As SLPs, we cover so many areas and do so much more than just correct speech sounds, but for whatever reason, the "speech teacher" title hasn't evolved as our profession's scope of practice has expanded.

In my experiences, the teachers are pretty good at collaborating on the speech impairment IEPs; however, when it comes to language impairment, I have often been faced with a perceived "what in the world are you talking about?" conversation when explaining the language IEPs to teachers at the beginning of each school year.

So...I decided it was time to make a change! At the beginning of last year, I requested to give a professional development presentation on language impairment for our teachers.

My purpose for giving the presentation was to:
1) Educate
2) Encourage collaboration, and
3) Provide support for language-rich classrooms

The presentation needed to focus on the basics and also needed to be relevant to the teachers. My main source of information was my Praxis 2 study book, An Advanced Review of Speech-Language Pathology, 2nd edition. It covers the basic need-to-know info and other citations were included as needed.

This is it!

Okay, here we go! A brief overview of my presentation:

Speech is sounds & language is....

...everything! I went over a few risk factors and highlighted/talked about the ones highlighted in red:

And then I briefly discussed three categories of language problems:
  • 1) Specific language impairment
  • 2) Other clinical conditions 
      • Cognitive Disabilities, Autism, Brain injury
  • 3) Physical & social-environmental factors 
      • Related to neglect or abuse, ADHD, or poverty
      • Working in an urban school, it was important to note that socioeconomic status is more critical to language development than ethnic background

Okay, so how to identify these kids? Unfortunately, traditional identification happens late...a wait-to-fail model:

But really we should be identifying these kids EARLY so the kids can get appropriate interventions. There are several academic skills that teachers can look for to help identify these low-language kids:

What does language impairment look like in the classroom? They may have trouble with the following skills:

A side note: Before presenting, I was asked by our directors of instruction to model a strategy that could be used by teachers in the classrooms. The strategy I chose was guided notes, so I had the teachers fill out a guided note handout during the presentation. I included a slide about why guided notes make sense.

...a lots of times the kids with a learning disability or language impairment fail not because they can't do the work, but they can't access the curriculum.

I also tried to include as much teacher-relevant information as possible. I talked about a study that found that 20% of the language teachers were using was figurative, which is hard for language-impaired kids to understand: we say things make such a big difference! I gave an example of having 4 of my language kiddos in my speech & language room and I instructed them to "have a seat". They all looked at me blankly and stayed standing. So I tried again. This time using "please sit" and we had 100% compliance. Our gym teacher noted in another meeting that the kids didn't understand when he said not to "cut corners". It's not what you say, but how you say it that can make all the difference!

At the very end of my presentation, I explained the scheduling model I was planning to use for the year, the 3:1 service delivery model...which is a whole post in itself.

The presentation was well-received by the teachers and by our principal. I found that it really helped us have a shared language for talking about language impairment IEPs. Win, win!

Would love to hear if anyone else has had successes in advocating and collaborating with teachers on language-impaired kids! Have you found similar challenges/experiences?

Check back for PD Presentation Part 2!

Mrs. Ludwig

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet Summertime

Happy Summer!

I've been on summer break since the second week of June....and it is wonderful! It was another crazy school year and this break has been an excellent opportunity to refresh, relax, and recharge!

A few highlights from the end of the school year:

  • The elementary girls' track team that I help coach won the championship meet!

  • I wrapped up all my evaluations, case conferences, and worked on some summer packets to send home with the kids for break. 
A few visuals:

  • I found some end-of-the-year prizes when my parents moved out my childhood home this spring! Most of our old Beanie Babies found new homes with new kiddos, and I saved a few for props to use with storybooks. The kids loved them!
Why did we have so many?? Ha. 

  • And I packed up my speech room and took lots of things home for the summer!
Lookin' pretty bare:

My summer has been full of Pinterest-ing, researching new resources, and reading for next year...

I'm currently reading this:

and just bought a few of these:

...and I've also been busy going to the farmer's market, planting an urban garden, organizing the Ludwig home, reading about finance, and working on my cooking skills! 

Hamburger buns:
I never thought I could do anything like this, 
but they are SO easy! Recipe HERE!

Our urban garden is a go

And 4th of July is upon us! We got to celebrate the 30th of June with some fireworks at a friend's house and are looking forward to celebrating the long weekend with my husband's family starting Wednesday!

a great show!

Summer breaks are the best! I think we deserve them because I really believe we complete 12 months of work in only 9! Hope you are all enjoying sweet summertime.

Happy July!
Mrs. Ludwig