Got Books?

Guest post by Truvine Walker, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

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From my earliest memories as a child, I remember having books with me almost everywhere I went. I’ve now replaced my books with a Nook Color and a Kindle app on my iPad; but, I still love to read. Fortunately, working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in an educational setting, I can pair my love of books with my responsibility to improve communication. Because we know there IS a connection between language and literacy, it is a great idea to utilize books in therapy whenever possible. Books are not the only tools in my therapy toolbox; however, they are a staple. Why, you ask? Books are versatile and can be used to address a variety of communication goals. They are also some of the least expensive therapy materials you can find, if you shop in bargain bins, buy used, and/or frequent your local library. Books are also great resources for teaching social skills, and addressing major life issues (speech and language problems, divorce, sharing, etc.). I love it when I find book units specifically designed for speech and language therapy; however, sometimes, I make my own or make materials to go along with units I purchase. I love using book units because they enable me to target multiple goals in a session using a common theme or source. There are a few free materials on my TPT store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:Truvine%20Walker

Below are a few ways in which I use books in therapy:

  • Articulation– There are numerous ways to address articulation, so I’m not even going to begin to give suggestions. There are several lists available that categorize books that can be used to target specific articulation sounds. ConsonantlySpeaking.com, Pinterest, and speechymusings.com are just a few websites that offer fairly extensive lists. Disclaimer: I did not make any of the lists, and I strongly advise that you review each book prior to using it in therapy to make sure it’s what you need for your students.
  • Making Choices – This requires a little bit of preparation. I present my students a choice of 2-3 books that I plan to use in therapy at some point during the school year anyway. I show them the front and back covers of the book, ask them to make a choice, and to share why they voted for a particular book. This allows my students who are reluctant to speak in a group the opportunity to speak without worrying about answering incorrectly or not being able to answer at all. I tally the votes, and the book with the most votes wins. It’s a win-win for me because I know they are a little interested in the book, and we have the opportunity to talk about voting, democracy, etc. This works with all age ranges. I simply adjust the vocabulary as needed.
  • Making Predictions, Recalling Facts, and Commenting– There is a free sheet on my TPT page entitled iPredict, iRead, iLearn. After a book is selected, I ask the students to predict what they THINK the book is about. After we’ve read the book (usually 2-3 times), I ask them to record something that they learned from the book. It can be new vocabulary, facts, etc. In the final column, I ask them to share what they like and dislike about the book. I’ve adapted this worksheet to include a visualization task. The students are prompted to illustrate one of their favorite details from the book on the back of the book review. At the bottom of the page, I ask them to write a few sentences describing their illustration.
  • Comprehension – I don’t think this needs explanation. You can create questions from simple to complex based on the needs of your students. If you purchase a book unit, the work is already done for you.
  • Compare and Contrast – I love comparing different versions of the same story (ex. ‘Twas that Night Before Christmas,” “The Three Little Pigs” vs. “The Three Ninja Pigs,” etc.) and, surprisingly, your students will as well. Sometimes you can compare the differences in characters, events in the story, outcome, etc.
  • Vocabulary – I always go through the stories I use and select vocabulary that I anticipate I need to preview or teach prior to the story. As I’m reading the story, I give each student a small sticky note pad. They are instructed to give me a sticky if they hear a word that they don’t understand. After the story, I go back to the pages where I have sticky notes, and as a group we discuss the unfamiliar words.
  • Narrative Retelling – After reading the story multiple times, you can have students retell the story in their own words. Sometimes you can use the pictures in the book (you have to cover the words for those who read well) or you can create your own retelling cards. Retelling is great for working on story elements, sentence structure, sequencing of events, etc.
  • Pragmatics – I often use illustrations of facial expression to discuss emotions, as well as synonyms and antonyms of the emotions. We identify and discuss the events in the story that provoke the emotions discussed. Often, we take it a step further and brainstorm events that happen in everyday life that could elicit those same emotions. If it’s a negative emotion, we discuss problem solving ideas.
  • Grammar – You can use books to address varying grammatical features, and follow up with worksheets related to the book to reinforce and/or assess mastery of skills. Again, this list is not my creation, and I’m sure it’s not exhaustive, as new stories are being created daily. The following list is a great place to start if you need to locate a list of books that target specific language goals. http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster2/languagefocusbooks.pdf

If you’re already using books in therapy and have suggestions, details, and/or resources, please share. I personally am always looking for new ideas, and I’m sure others are as well. If you’re not already using books in therapy, I encourage you to give it a try. Once you start and get in the habit, it actually makes planning for therapy more efficient, more fulfilling, and less demanding physically because you have fewer materials to transport.

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Note from Pat:  I’m delighted to have Truvine as one of my first guest bloggers.  Truvine Walker, M.Ed., CCC is a speech/language pathologist in Georgia.  Among many other very impressive materials to extend books in therapy, she created wonderfully detailed and clever extension activities for “There Was a Speech Teacher Who Swallowed Some Dice,” “The Mouth With a Mind of Its Own,” and “How Katie Got a Voice (and a cool new nickname).”  You will definitely want to follow her TPT store so you don’t miss any of the gems she posts!

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