Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pump It Up:: Balloon Pumps

It's almost time to  find the summer clearance sales. I wanted to share an easy idea that students and SLPs will both love!  I used this all the time in a clinic I used to work at and last summer I bought my own balloon pump in the end of summer clearance! 

Go visit your local Big Box Store and find one of these air balloon pumps. They will be under $10 full price and pretty soon you'll find them marked way down! 

These pumps work for both air and water. We used them this week for water balloons, but for typical therapy you'll just pump air into the balloons! 

The pump requires about 15 pumps of the handle to get enough force to blow up a small balloon. During therapy I use this as a token reinforcement system. The child completes X amount of trials with the a fun deck and then earns a pump or two! 

Once you've pumped it all the way up, you'll pull the trigger to inflate the balloon! 

Super fun and super easy for therapy! Have you used this idea before?

Donate to Bike to the Beach

I donated to Bike to the Beach to support Autism awareness and research.  Did you know that:
  • Autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are nearly 5 times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism.
A friend of mine is participating in this event -- to support his ride and help in bringing awareness to the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. click here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wanna be part of a museum show?

Extreme Exhibit Makeover at the Sandy Springs Museum

The Extreme Exhibit Makeover is a process of creating new exhibits in the museum through the collaboration of professionals from different fields – history, art, exhibit design, and so on – and a member of the local community.

The process involves identifying experts in various fields who will be placed on one of two teams.  Each team will consist of a historian, an artist – either a visual artist or an exhibit designer – a curator, and a member of the public.  Working collaboratively, each team will come up with an idea for an exhibit that focuses on an aspect of local culture and its historic roots.  The teams will have three months to conduct the background research, select artifacts and photos, create graphics, and design the exhibit.  At the end of three months, the teams will be brought together to install their exhibits on the same day.  The exhibit installation will be open to the public who will vote on the “people’s choice” winner.

The purpose of this project is to reinvigorate the museum with new exhibits; to get new people involved in the museum; to get new perspectives on local history; to make the exhibit process more contemporary by incorporating pop culture (“extreme” reality shows and team competitions) and social media (by posting frequent behind-the-scenes updates); and to incorporate a performance art aspect by allowing the public to watch the installation.

The museum will launch this program in September and plan to have the exhibits ready for installation by January.  A $200 stipend will be paid to each participant. Help fund the Extreme Exhibit Makeover - Click here!

If you are interested in participating, please send the information below by August 25, 2013 to Allison Weiss at
  • A letter explaining why you want to be part of this program and what skills you bring
  • An example of something creative that you have done
  • Your resume

Monday, July 29, 2013

This week: The Art of The Superhero Opens

Simon Monk - Spiderman
The Washington Project for the Arts announces The Art of the Super Hero – Revisited, a group exhibition organized by Lenny Campello exploring our cultural fascination with masked men and caped crusaders. 

The artists included in the exhibition approach their topic with a mix of levity and seriousness, using the figure of the superhero to explore issues of identity, immigration, and the struggles of daily life.  

The Art of the Super Hero - Revisitedfeatures photography, painting, and mixed media work by F. Lennox Campello, Carla Goldberg, Jeannette Herrera, Simon Monk, Dulce Pinzon,and Andrew Wodzianski. 

The exhibition opens with a reception in the Capitol Skyline Lounge on Friday, August 2, 2013 from 6-8pm and runs from Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 25, 2013. 

Friday, August 2 – Sunday, August 25, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, August 2, 6-8pm
   at the Capitol Skyline Hotel , 10 I (eye) St. SW, Washington, DC

Participating Artists: F. Lennox Campello, Carla Goldberg, Jeannette Herrera, Simon Monk, Dulce Pinzón, and Andrew Wodzianski

Hothouse is a new series of exhibitions, installations, and events organized by Washington Project for the Arts and taking place in the Capitol Skyline Hotel Lounge. Created as a way to provide new opportunities for WPA member artists and forge new connections within DC’s creative communities, Hothouse will present member-initiated programming on a regular basis.

Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is an independent, nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for contemporary art.  WPA supports artists at all stages of their careers and promotes contemporary art by presenting exhibitions, issues, and ideas that stimulate public dialogue on art and

Bundle Bonanza!

For a WHILE you guys have been asking me to bundle stuff. That's been one of my Summer To-Do list times. Well, I finally got something DONE this summer!

So here's a re-cap of those bundles.

The Back 2 School Bundle includes all the new products that were new from over the summer!

I bundled 5 of my There was an Old Lady Books. You can get them in a bundle for 20% off.

I also made two different articulation bundles. I grouped them into two sets. 

When you buy the items in the bundle you save over 20%. 

I will add to the Old Lady series as I make more sets. If you buy now, when I update the item and increase the price, you will be able to re-download the updated file without further charge! The articulation files are so big that I can't add any more, so those sets are final. 

Click on the pictures above to go to that bundle for purchase.

Is there anything else you'd like to see bundled?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Acquisitions at the NGA

The National Gallery of Art has acquired dozens of new paintings, sculptures and drawings, including its first paintings by 17th-century Dutch Golden Age painter Cornelis Bega and 19th-century French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme. The works were approved by the National Gallery of Art’s board of trustees in May and acquired with private money and donations. Among the other acquisitions were two sculptures by Robert Smithson, ambrotype self-portraits by the photographer Sally Mann, and a Florentine wax relief attributed to 18th-century sculptor Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi.
Details here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Art traded for smiles

Bren Bataclan watched from behind a tree as a young couple approached the fountain in Dupont Circle and studied a small square object leaning against the base of the monument. From his hiding spot, he could see the woman reach down with empty hands, then stand back up clasping a canvas. The duo held a brief conference, their mouths moving but their words too faint for Bataclan to hear. Finally, they reached an agreement that pleased Bataclan: The woman walked off with the artwork, grinning broadly.

The painting was Bataclan’s eighth giveaway of the day and the 114th since he set out this summer on a cross-country expedition supporting his SmileyB project. More important, with this canvas, he released two more smiles into the world.

“I like to help others, and in my own small way, I’m doing that,” said the 44-year-old Boston-based artist.
Read the whole article by  Andrea Sachs in the WaPo here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Swiss Freeports Are Home for a Growing Treasury of Art

They come for the security and stay for the tax treatment. For as long as goods are stored here, owners pay no import taxes or duties, in the range of 5 to 15 percent in many countries. If the work is sold at the Freeport, the owner pays no transaction tax, either.
(Via) Read this cool article in the NYT - the interesting thing is that I believe that there are several "off-the-grid" such locations around the world, including a massive one just outside of Boston... cough, cough.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Show Me the Data!

Today I'm joining up with Jenn over at Crazy Speech World for a Data Linky Party!

I wanted to show you the data sheet I've been using for a few years. It works for me. I do all the prep work at the beginning of the year and print off about 10 copies to get the year started. I staple the data sheets and put them in the working folders I use for each group. I write the quarter in the top right hand quarter. After I write a progress report at the end of the quarter, I file the stapled sheets in the students file. At the end of the school year I staple the 4 different packets together.

The document has student IEP objectives across the top. I love that it allows me to look across the column and decide which goals I need to hit more frequently.  I use the big box on the top right to make notes about goals I want to include for the next IEP. So when it's time to write a new IEP I just look back at my notes in that box. At the very bottom of the sheet I total the data in each column. When I write a new IEP, I copy/paste the new goals into a new data sheet.

You can download the template for free in my TpT store here. 

Make sure you head over to Jenn's Linky Party and see what everyone else is using to collect data! 

Job in the Arts

 Deadline: August 10, 2013
The Brentwood Arts Exchange is in need of experienced instructors to teach comic book making for teens, painting and drawing classes for teens and adults and are requesting proposals from individuals interested in teaching those subjects.  Classes should run for 4 or 6 weeks, and be held in the afternoon (for teens) or evening hours (for adults).  Include a class outline and a materials list in your proposal.
They're always interested in hearing good ideas.  If you would like to send a proposal on other art related classes and have experience teaching, they will accept those as well.
Send to Frannie Payne, Brentwood Arts Exchange, 3901 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood, MD 20722 or send to

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Art and Labor in the US

How are artists who have been systematically denied fair wages and access to basic services like healthcare and unemployment protections gaining access to those things today?
Even after reading this article by Alexis Clement, I'm not sure who the systemic denier is/are, but I suspect that (like everything else) it is Bush's fault (not Bush The First, he's now a good guy, but Dubya)... Details here.

Alexis Clement will be facilitating a class on this subject (cough, cough), titled Rights, Demands, and Radical Reimaginings: Art and Labor in the US at the Hyperallergic offices starting August 27. Registration info is here. Hyperallergic readers can get $15 off with the code HYPER.

Describe It To Me {app review}

Come on down! You're the next contestant on... Describe It To Me! 

((Are you envisioning me as Bob Barker or Drew Carey?))

Describe It To Me is the latest app developed by the app gurus over at Smarty Ears. 

This app is developed to work on receptive and expressive language skills for school age children. The app is developed by Susan Rose Simms, MA, CCC-SLP.

Start by adding your players. Avatars and pictures can be used. 

The game play page has many features. On the left spinning wheel you will notice players. Simply touch and drag the wheel to rotate between players. On the right hand side of the screen the clinician can switch between Receptive and Expressive tasks (R/E). The red buttons on the right side of the screen allow you to move to the next item. 

The top of each screen lists the type of questions to be asked. They include category, function parts, location, visuals and extra. You can see when the question is answers correctly the text turns green. The receptive language tasks in the top picture show receptive language tasks with multiple choice answers. The above picture displays the expressive task. 

From the developer: 
Designed to facilitate a deep semantic understanding, each picture stimulus has six questions designed to probe and teach a deeper level understanding of these everyday items. In addition to teaching semantic knowledge to children, Describe it To Me can be used to facilitate rebuilding semantic knowledge in adults. Perfect for all levels from beginning categorization skills to deeper level language skills. 

Print homework directly from the ipad with the included sheet. 

The report center tracks data in both the receptive and expressive tasks. 

Check out the app described in detail and shown in the video below! 

The bottom line:

Pros: The app works on a skill I target often in school based therapy.  Having homework available to print from the app is ideal. 

Cons: The app has a pretty limited function. It has only one game screen, compared to other apps SLPs may find fewer in-app options. 

Describe It To Me is found in the itunes store and is listed at $9.99 in itunes.

Art Scam Alert

Beware of this mutant who is currently trying to scam artists and galleries:
From: Gregory Butler <> To: Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 10:17 AM
My name is Greg, I recently visited your website and found your Work of arts to be appealing. I am very impressed with it and would be interested in purchasing it for my new apartment I am moving into this month. Please do provide me with the price and details if it is available.

New "Who's a Washingtonian?" Grant

Proposals Due: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Funding Amount: $5000
Match Required: 1:1; cash or in-kind  

Details here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Head StART in ART program

Visual and performing artists are needed for residencies for the Head StART in ART program for the 2013-2014 school year. Residencies will take place at the Ellicott City Head Start Center or the Tubman Head Start Center in Columbia. Artists seeking a residency must have experience working with children; experience with pre-K is preferred. The performing artist residency will conclude with performances by the Head Start children. The visual artist residency will conclude with the completion of an art project for display at their Head Start Center or individual projects for students to take home. Applications are available online at or at the Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Thedeadline for proposals is August 15, 2013.
The Howard County Arts Council coordinates, administers, and funds Head StART in ART, with additional funding from Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Inc. and a grant from PNC for the 2013-2014 school year.  HCAC selects the artists and works closely with them and the Head Start staff to create a thematic program.
In FY2000, the Howard County Arts Council developed a partnership with the Ellicott City Head Start Center to establish an artist-in-residence program.  This partnership, Head StART in ART, provides the children with an in-depth, hands-on artistic experience they might never have otherwise and ensures them access to the arts.  Participation in such a program during the formative years can have a significant impact on a child’s future appreciation of and involvement in the arts and may also advance language and learning skills.

Secret Agent Articulation: QR Code Activity {with freebie}

Have you been using QR codes in your speech room yet? I've been trying them out using some other SLPs materials and I love them! QR codes are little square barcodes that are read by apps on your smartphone or tablet. To use them in therapy, I download a free app on my phone. Apple users can try this one. There are droid versions too! QR codes are on everything from goldfish boxes to billboards! 
In March, while visiting St. Louis, I fell and needed stitches. Even the Urgent Care had a giant QR Code! 

To see some more examples of QR code speech therapy activities check out this list over at TpT. My friend Maureen is even using it as her contact info for parents. SO smart! 

So my new download is targeting articulation using QR codes. Your students can play the Secret Agents! Listen to the 3 codes on each card. Then scan the QR Code and determine if they guessed correctly. Some clues are easy and some are a little harder! 

This 38 page document features activities for the following sounds: S, L, TH, SH, CH, J, R, S blends initial, L blends initial.

There are 18 cards for each sound (6 in each position: initial/medial/final). The blends include 18 cards in the initial position.

That's a total of 180 articulation cards with clues and QR codes.

Listen to the 3 codes on each card. Then scan the QR Code and determine if they guessed correctly. Some clues are easy and some are a little harder!

12 Bonus cards are included. If you draw these cards scan the QR code to see if you earned an extra turn or lost a turn!

A game board in included for game play. Move around the footprints to find the missing item. Instead of rolling dice to determine how many spaces to move, scan the QR code sheet.

Once we got going trying to figure out the clues my client thought HE should make up some of his own clues for me to try to figure out! (Sure, twist my arm into a language rich activity!)

So I made this page where the student can start with a word that matches his articulation practice set, and make up his own clues.

You can grab this page for free by following the link to TpT

I really hope you can use this download! The kids I've tried it with have LOVED it. It took me a whole month to get it ready so I'm feeling totally attached to it! Totally excited to share my latest 'baby' with you! You can find it over here at Teacher Pay Teachers.

In my room we paired it with an old freebie I posted back in September 2011 using our magnifying glasses!

Feel free to head over and grab that freebie here

Have fun secret agents! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jenkins checks in

I know that I've said this before, but the WaPo's Style art critic Mark Jenkins has really brought a fresh, new perspective to the WaPo's coverage of DC visual arts and is a huge improvement over his predecessors.

Read his current set of reviews here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Celebrities Failing at Art

Allison Meier is a bit unfair to artsy celebrities in this cool article, but then again, it is hard to be a celebrity and then try your hand at art and then expect that people will take you seriously... cough, cough.

If anything the Bronx cheer should go to artists like Marina Abramovic for being part of the celebrity worship.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Announcing DC Artist Exchange (DCax)

Artomatic, in collaboration with several DC-based arts and cultural organizations, has announced the DC Artist Exchange (#DCax). 
This kick-off series includes five Panel Discussions on artist space in the city and four Swap Meets. Swap meets pDC Artist Exchange Logorovide a forum for the exchange of creative services or materials and the opportunity for community networking. 
Best of all, events are FREE to attend. 
Come to one session or the whole series. The series kicks off this Saturday, July 20th and runs through the summer season.
View the schedule and sign up today

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Love It and List It Linky

It's Friday!! Woop! I love Fridays except in the summer I want my Fridays to come SLOWER. Why does summer just fly by!?

I've been wanting to find a quick way to show you what is happening in my speech room throughout the year. I was envisioning a short list on a bunch of different topics. I decided to name this reoccuring segment 'Love It and List It'! Then I got to thinking...maybe some of the other bloggers might want to join me! Hence a Linky Party!

The Love It & List It Linky will happen on the 3rd Friday each month. Each month I'll throw out a topic. If you want to get involved just share a short list (3-5 items) on the topic! If you don't have your own blog (uh, hello, I know most of you don't :)) just comment to share your OWN list! 

Drum roll please.... 

The theme for this first month is Love It & List It:: Games I Love! So write a post about the games YOU love and link up with the linky tool at the bottom of the page. Make sure to link back to this post. Please grab the image at the top of the page for your post! 

::Games I Love::               ((I included Amazon Affiliate Links so make it easy on you!!))

I've already shared about Cariboo, CandyLand and Angry Birds... so here are 5 more I haven't shared about! 


Pass the Pigs is a fun game my friend Taylor told me about. It's a super easy game, which makes it one of my favorites. Your students roll the included pigs and try to get them to land in a certain direction. I bought the 'party edition' so all my kids have their own pigs to roll! 


Obstacles. This super cute game is pretty new to me. My friend Meghan showed it to me, so I hopped on Amazon and ordered it. The game is played making a path of obstacles (such as  'a wall'). Students move through the path of obstacles and use their 'tool' cards to find a way to get over the obstacles. If I have to get over the wall, I could stand on an elephants back or jump over it in a kangaroo pouch! It's a great way to get your clients to problem solve, work cooperatively and verbally explain their reasoning. 


Headbanz is probably in every closet in every speech room. I just couldn't leave it off the list because it's one I like to play! 


Diggity Dog is a favorite for my preschool group. You place magnetic dog bones onto the game board. Press down the doggie on the dog house. Listen closely and decide how many times he barked. Then move that many spaces around the board. Let your dog pick up that magnetic bone and see if it matches your color! I have used this one with my preschool - second grade group a ton! 


Connect 4 Launchers is a game I don't think I've talked about before! This is perfect for your 'older' set of kids. I've used it for my 3rd grade and up set. It's like Connect 4 but you get to LAUNCH the rings. Uh... that's a winner. Seriously, this one is so fun!

Then get busy snatching pictures and thinking about next month's post: 

 Ready? Go! 

GO check out all the other links and be sure you leave YOUR list in the comments!

Practicing Receptive Language at Home

Speech Room News is typically geared toward SLPs and other professionals in the field, but this week I posted over at PlayingwithWords365 with some information for parents! If you're working with any families this summer, Katie's blog is the place to send them for information! I wrote about tackling receptive language skills at home! These are those quick tips I usually find myself talking to parents about in IEP meetings.

Language is often separated into two parts. Expressive language is what your child can say and express verbally. Receptive language is what your child can understand. While expressive language is sometimes to easiest to identify as delayed, delays in receptive language can have a significant impact on a child's ability to function at home and in preschool. Children with receptive language delays struggle with skills such as understanding directions, understanding stories read to him/her, identifying vocabulary items and answering questions.

Today I want to share with you some quick and easy ways to support your child's receptive language at home. It's quite easy once you think about a specific skill. The key is to pick one skill and have intention to target it throughout your day. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Becoming a Collector: How to Know What You LIke and Where to Find It

MPA Exhibitions Director, Nancy Sausser, will give a talk about collecting art and how to get started.

Free, but reservations are required. Email to reserve your spot.

McLean Project for the Arts is located at 1234 Ingleside Avenue in McLean VA
For more information visit or call 703-790-1953

2013 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize

Congratulations to Corcoran College of Art and Design faculty member Gabriela Bulisova, who was awarded the 2013 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize on Saturday, July 13.

A faculty member in both the Photography and New Media Photojournalism degree programs, Bulisova was awarded the $25,000 prize for her multimedia project, "Time Zone."

The project - a collection of photographs and 12-minute video - focuses on 39-year-old Washington resident Lashawna Etheridge-Bey's effort to recreate a life after 18 years in prison. "Time Zone" features interviews with Etheridge-Bey, her mother, children and friend.

Gabriela Bulisova is a documentary photographer from the former Czechoslovakia, based in Washington, D.C. She travels to marginalized places such as Chernobyl, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria to give voice to those who have been silenced.

View images from "Time Zone" here. View the video here.

Speech Spotlight: Speechy Musings

I'm so excited today to introduce a new monthly feature on the blog! I wanted to find a way to connect you to more amazing SLPs, special education teachers, and even parent blogs. I'm planning to feature one website (or blog or TpT site) per month in our Spotlight of the Month!

First up is Shannon from Speechy Musings! I've been following Shannon's blog for a while now and when I asked her what she is most 'proud' of she mentioned her Articulation Menu's.

I was NOT surprised at all because I bought those during a recent TpT sale and just love them!

Shannon is a second year graduate student.  She decided to start blogging and making materials to meet her own clients' needs and to track all of her ideas and resources. Since then, she has realized that it's the perfects way to learn more about the field and continue to apply to content she learns in class.

Check out Speechy Musings for yourself and see what else Shannon is up to during graduate school! You can follow her on facebook, twitter, and  pinterest.

** If you would like to be features in the monthly Speech Spotlight please complete the application form at the top of the blog. Anyone with an education website, blog, tpt store is welcome to submit an application.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Amazon to Start Selling Fine Art On Line

Reports from the Art Newspaper and the Wall Street Journal say Amazon is making plans to sell fine art online. The reports say the company is working with galleries around the U.S.—perhaps more than 100—to act as an online art market and collect a commission on the sales.
Amazon tried this once before in 2001, but in partnership with Sotheby's. It was very successful, so much in fact that Sotheby's decided to go on their own, broke their contract with Amazon (and paid them a ton of money to do so) and was selling about a million dollars a day at one point.

Ebay noticed this and tried to start doing the same thing via a short-lived venture titled Ebay Premiere; they failed miserably.

Then Ebay started courting Sotheby's and the fools decided to partner up with Ebay and the whole entire thing tanked in record time, forever poisoning the well for online fine art auctions.

The formula for selling fine art online demands a legitimizing name (such as Sotheby's or Christie's or MoMA or such a recognizable "art name") - it fails miserably anytime anyone else tries it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Speachy Feedback Linky Party

A linky party? For Feedback?! YES!!

Nicole is starting a new Linky Party! It seems like an awesome way to reward YOU for any feedback you leave on my Teachers Pay Teachers items! 
So each month I'll pick someone who left good feedback (something detailed/ longer than 'thanks'.) I'll post that feedback comment here and that person can pick something from my store for free! 

If you're TpT use 'Lichirco' please email with whichever TpT product you'd like for free! 

Minute to Win It Articulation is one of my favorites too! It's perfect for ESY if you're busy right now! 

Go link up at your blog and look for your winning feedback at the linky party!

Woman as Color, Light and Form

Galerie Myrtis located at 2224 North Charles Street in Baltimore has an upcoming exhibition titled Woman as Color, Light and Form that has caught my eye.   The Opening Reception will be held Saturday, July 27, 2013, from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.  The reception is free and open to the public. An Artists’ Talk will take place on Sunday, August 11, 2013 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and is part of the Tea with Myrtis series of art salons. Fee:  $20 includes tea sampling and sweet and savory treats.  
In challenging the notion of the feminine archetype, artists embrace and reach beyond the boundaries of the female form to express the essence of a woman, figuratively, conceptually and metaphorically. 
As Color, alluring imagery stretches the imagination and explores a woman’s sexual and intellectual power through aggressive gestures and symbolic references to the feminine life-giving force. As Light, provocative photographs portray a woman’s physical strength and ubiquitous presence in nature. As Form, moving two and three dimensional objects, emblematic of the ethereal qualities of a woman, reveal the complexities, convictions and intuitiveness of the feminine expressed as the divine; a ritualistic-based video serves as testimony to one woman’s personal journey of renewal, and others speak to healing, identity, memory and transformation in tableaus that embody a woman’s unbridled spirit.
Edwin Remsburg Diapotheque Series 9/22
The sixteen participating artists express their artistic voices through installations, paintings, photography, prints, and videos.

Artists:  Sondra Arkin, Maya Freelon Asante, David Carlson, Phylicia Ghee, Michael Gross, Nora Howell, Ada Pinkston, Edwin Remsburg (that's his powerful image Diapotheque Series 9/22 to the left), Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Rachael Rotenberg, Amy Sherald, Mary Walker, and Sigrid Vollerthun along with Sondheim Semi-finalists: A. Moon and Adejoke Tugbiyele

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SLPs and Literacy

If you've been checking in at all lately you might already know I'm working part time at a clinic again this summer. We've been having all kinds of fun working on early literacy skills with clients with a range of disorders including Down syndrome, language impairment, and Autism. We've been camping, playing and of course READING in our literacy speech camp. Elementary children who are poor readers often have a history of language delay or difficulty acquiring phonological awareness skills. We're spending all summer beefing up those early literacy skills in an effort to increase success with reading when school starts again in the fall.

Now, a summer speech program focused on literacy is an EASY way to include literacy into our scope of practice. Unfortunately with caseloads well over the ASHA recommended 50, incorporating literacy into our time in a school based setting can be really difficult. Today I wanted to share some ways that I address my school based speech and language intervention using a literacy frame of mind.

Literacy has always been a big part of my personal SLP experience. At Ohio State, I completed my degree with an emphasis in literacy and instructional leadership. While I was there I spent a full year in a school district working in a RtI reading program and training parent volunteers to complete RtI literacy instruction. During that time, I won the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders award for Future Leaders in School Based Speech Language Pathology for my active role in literacy.  Based on my experiences, Literacy and Speech Language Pathology go hand in hand. I realize many if not MOST of the practicing SLPs haven't had the same direct experiences teaching reading. So how DO we fit in to the literacy puzzle?

Let's start with what the ASHA Roles and Responsibilities Statement says about the rationale:

The rationale for SLPs to play a critical and direct role in the development of literacy for children and adolescents is based on established connections between spoken and written language, including that (a) spoken language provides the foundation for the development of reading and writing; (b) spoken and written language have a reciprocal relationship, such that each builds on the other to result in general language and literacy competence, starting early and continuing through childhood into adulthood; (c) children with spoken language problems frequently have difficulty learning to read and write, and children with reading and writing problems frequently have difficulty with spoken language; and that (d) instruction in spoken language can result in growth in written language, and instruction in written language can result in growth in spoken language. (ASHA 2001)
Why should SLPs be involved in literacy development? It's obvious that speaking, reading and writing functions are all connected. A physical therapist wouldn't work on muscles it the wrist without considering the implications for the fingers. Why would be work on spoken language without regard to the implications for reading/writing.

The evidence from ASHA:

As many as half of all poor readers have an early history of spoken-language disorders. Catts et al. (1999) reported that 73 percent of second grade poor readers had had either phonemic awareness or spoken language problems (or both) in kindergarten. (ASHA 2001)

So if 50% of poor readers have an early history of spoken-language disorders there is no doubt SLPs to get involved with literacy prevention and identification.

OK, so that all sounds good but how the heck aM I supposed to support literacy skills when I have so many children on my caseload?

Believe me, I am in the same overcrowded boat with you. This is one of those Work Smarter, Not Harder moments. Here's how I'm including literacy in my  day-to-day.

School Based Implications:

  • Goals should be written that support direct reading instruction. Foundational language skills such as answering WH questions, identifying main ideas, making inferences are all skills that relate directly to reading. We often work on these goals but don't explain to teachers, intervention specialists and parents the direct connection to literacy. 
  • Write aligned goals with the intervention specialist that develop a skill in one domain (ie: spoken language) that is then transferred to another domain (ie: writing). For example, the SLP might write a goal to use correct pronouns in spoken sentences, while the intervention specialists creates a similar goal for pronouns in written form. The SLP might be working on making inferences in real life examples or social situations, while the intervention specialists has a goal to make an inference based on the story for comprehension. 
  • When goals are aligned for speaking/reading/writing, use the same language for instruction. In the example above about inferencing, each different instructor could use the same definition and symbol to represent making an inference. Make a visual and share it with your team. 
  • Be involved in full initial evaluations and Response to Intervention Meetings. Speak up when you suspect a language disability might be impacting literacy skills. Advocate for full evaluations when necessary. 
  • Identify at-risk students. When you speak to teachers, especially in the primary grades (k/1) let them know the statistics about speech/language disorders often leading to difficulty with reading. Set up a plan to monitor a 'speech only' student closely from the beginning of the year. If you're completing a speech only initial assessment, include some basic phonological awareness skills to determine if an academic assessment is also warranted. 
  • Bring a different perspective to the discussion table. Teachers, psychologist and SLPs will bring different knowledge about reading to the table. Use your knowledge of syntax, morphology and semantics to to identify intervention strategies.
  • Educate parents. I often have those really happy transition to Kindergarten evaluation meetings where the child has met all the goals and will attend Kindergarten without an IEP. While you're celebrating success and exiting the child from services, don't forget to mention to parents that they will need to keep a close watch on literacy skills in the primary grades. Give them explicit skills to look for and remind them to monitor development closely. 
  • Embed literacy into all areas of treatment. Find out your student's reading level and borrow books from the book room to use in treatment. Grab the second grade sight word list and choose articulation words accordingly. Work on pragmatics using a reader's theater play. All of these examples don't require extra instruction, but instead embed literacy into activities already being completed. 
Students with speech and language impairments are at high risk for literacy difficulties. How do you find practical ways to prevent, identify or treat literacy?


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2001). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with respect to reading and writing in children and adolescents [Guidelines]. Available from

Spracher, M. M. (2000, April 25). Learning About Literacy: SLPs Play Key Role in Reading, Writing.The ASHA Leader.