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:

...how 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


  1. Are you sharing this powerpoint for others to download?

  2. E-mail me at mrsludwigspeechroom@gmail.com and I will send you a copy! Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. I need to do this as well this year. My teachers just don't get it and I am stuck fixing /r/ all day...I am going to email you as well if that is ok.

  4. Exactly!! I definitely found it beneficial! I'm happy pass the presentation along....check your inbox soon!

    1. Hi any chance I can have a copy to. My email is trudylazarus@gmail.com. what a fantastic resource. Thank you so much for sharing!

    2. Hi any chance I can have a copy to. My email is trudylazarus@gmail.com. what a fantastic resource. Thank you so much for sharing!

    3. I love this and would love it if I could have a copy of your powerpoint. I am always looking for new ways to explain my role as a SLP in the schools.Thank you so much for sharing. My email is lynnannedale20@gmail.com. Thank you

  5. I love this idea!! If possible, can I also request your powerpoint? There is one 4th grade teacher in particular that would (hopefully) reassess her opinion of what I do.

    1. Yes! Happy to share. Shoot me an e-mail at mrsludwigspeechroom@gmail.com and I will pass it along!

  6. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thanks for your comment!

  7. You've done a great service to your teachers and SLP colleagues! I've been retired (read "disabled") for almost 6 years and yet would love to have a copy of your presentation -- such great content in one place! I volunteer with the adult literacy program at our local library and know that guided note taking would help some of these clients. However I don't have any resources for this. Can you share your resources on guided note taking? Thank you -- I look forward to visiting your blog often!

  8. This is so great! I would love to use this if you would share? :) Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful outline ~ would be so helpful to share with my faculty at school... so much misunderstanding of our job out there! I will email you to ask for a copy of the power point also, if that is ok...

  10. Are you still sharing the slide show you developed for this project? I would love to see it. Thank you.

  11. Hello I was wondering if I could get a copy of this. I am doing a short presentation in the Fall.

  12. I would so appreciate a copy as well kmeixner@threelakessd.k12.wi.us
    You are so right, no one seems to understand the "L" portion. Thank you!

  13. I would love a copy too nchambe1@yahoo.com! I think this presentation is great for advocating our positions in schools.

  14. Would you be willing (still) to send a copy of your PPT? dawn.atkinson1@gmail.com

    Thank you!

  15. This would be great to share with my faculty. Could you please send it to me as well? Thank you! My email is: marisa.kimmel@gmail.com

  16. This would be great to share with my faculty. Could you please send it to me as well? Thank you! My email is: marisa.kimmel@gmail.com

  17. I have been looking for something like this for myself, but would like to have a copy for presentations in the future. If possible, can you send me a copy to: radtech64@yahoo.com.

  18. Nicely done! May I please have a copy as well. I'm planning on a presentation. lol travishome4@msn.com

  19. Hello! I would love to use this resource. Can you please email it to me at smlaraque@gmail.com Thank you!

  20. Would love his presentation as well- please!!! KLehmann88@gmail.com

  21. Love it I would love a copy of this as well. My email is.....peaceandshopping@gmail.com. Thanks so much!! Happy Speeching!!