Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Speech-Language Achievement Best Practices

Finding the True Potential of Language-Impaired Students

 by Peg Marshall, Speech-Language Pathologist

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student achievement best practices can be achieved in speech-language pathology by focusing on what students excel in.
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As a speech-language pathologist, my students face a variety of challenges in the classroom.  Language deficits can affect every subject and every grade level.  There are many valuable strategies that teachers can use to build the confidence of language impaired students in their classrooms through achievement.  The key to student achievement best practices for my students is to continually look at the many aspects of language and find the ones that the student excels in. 

Art work can be a fun way for the student to express complex thoughts and ideas with simple drawings. It is also a valuable tool for the classroom teacher to check student understanding when the student may not have the vocabulary skills to express their ideas.  Students can learn language structures such as sequencing and quotations by sketching their answers in comic strip style.  A teacher wanting to reinforce idioms, similes and metaphors might encourage students to draw humorous pictures of the language structure to reinforce learning.

Knock, knock.  Who’s there? Figurative language! Using humor in the classroom is another fun way to build vocabulary skills for language impaired students.  Homophones are frequently used in jokes to grab the listener’s attention.  Teachers can get a quick check of comprehension by noting which students laugh at the joke.  Expand the activity to include an explanation of the reason the joke is funny to incorporate the link between receptive and expressive language.

Timing is everything for language impaired students. Some students are impulsive and quickly shout out the first word they think of. These students are better at games like ‘Around the World’.  Others prefer to take their time and practice their response in their head. These students prefer small group activities and skits that have a script to follow. Teachers should try to take note of the timing style of the student and gradually try to move them toward the middle so they are able to find success in both types of responding. 

Technology is a comfortable form of expression for many students.  Teachers – don’t let it scare you off, but move beyond video games and text messages to stretch language skills.   Allow the students the opportunity to give detailed directions as they teach you how to use a new app.  The less you know about the activity, the more teaching they will have to do, and the greater variety of language structures they will be forced to use.  Podcasting, tablets, video-cameras, WIKI and apps are valuable language tools in our digital world.  Let the students show you what potential they truly have!

As Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”  In speech-language pathology, we try everything to help our students communicate, because language is everywhere!

Peg Marshall has practiced speech-language pathology in a variety of settings; including schools, medical clinics, hospitals, home health and skilled nursing facilities.  She is passionate about helping students achieve in the classroom and advocates for inclusion in special education.  She is married and has two children.  She enjoys music, sewing and writing in her free time.

Peg Marshall is a speech-language pathologist at Lake Asbury Elementary School in Clay County, Florida.

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