SLPs, Literacy, and Inclusion

by Wyoma Clouss, CCC-SLP

Has your school district discovered inclusion?
Feeling a little panic?
Lost in the classroom?malwave.gif - 18.3 K

Yes?    Only a little??    How many kids at once???

. . "Inclusion" can cause major stress, in fact, change can be very difficult!  But in our quest for improved education, we research and open our minds to newer ideas.  Though SLPs may have come from a more medical model, we're part of this exploration too.  The question becomes, "change how"?  As a Speech Language Pathologist, I feel strongly that direct instruction, either individual or small group, is important for children who need profound growth in their speech and language skills - the kindergartners and first graders who can't be understood, can't make a sentence, can't form a simple question or relate a simple event.  For these children,  some pull-out or pull-aside time in a less distracting environment seems very appropriate to me.   But I have come to believe that these children, the children who need 'some fertilizer and water to grow' or children from homes without lots of books & reading going on can benefit from our special skills and perspectives inside the classroom.
. . . After reading articles in Language, Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools about literacy and language, I purchased "The Magic of Stories - Literature-Based Language Intervention" (Thinking Publications) by Carol Strong and Kelly Hoggan North. The literacy and language connection encouraged me to start "thinking outside of the box" . After all, I've been telling parents for years to read to their children, for vocabulary, sequencing, language structure and so on. Linking language development and stories to reading skills made sense to the teachers and parent.  Given research such as that quoted in "The Magic of Stories", and now,  (you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader if you don't have it already) with the A.S.H.A. Position Papers -- SLPs .. Reading & Writing, and the SLPs.. Pivotal Role, we can justify our programs to ourselves and to our schools.

. . Theory Base: Narratives are important because they engage students in learning activities that support oral and written language development concurrently and interrelatedly; they provide a bridge between oral communication - regulating social interaction, and writing - providing information. With narratives, Speech Pathologists support development of specific language skills, provide repeated exposure to concepts and teach literate styles of language use. Describing experiences, explaining events in sequence, participating in group discussion, retelling stories, drawing conclusions, predicting outcomes, interpreting figurative language, developing vocabulary, differentiating between realism and fantasy, fact and opinion - all fit within our district's language arts goals. The internet has literature available about "emergent literacy" that is interesting for Speech Language Pathologists too.

. . Benefits of Reading Aloud: Researchers and educators recommend that adults habitually read aloud to students. Interactive Reading Aloud - story reader and children engage in joint act of reading and talking to share meanings, make meanings accessible to children by providing scaffolding, or support, encourage children to think on more abstract level, guide children toward use of more complex language structures and vocabulary than they would use independently. Interactive Reading Aloud teaches 'story grammar' that helps children understand and remember new stories - "developing a sense of story is a basic facet of the child's way of remembering".

. . From there, I added "Story Stretchers for the Primary Grades" (Gryphon House Publ., Mt Rainier, MD) by Shirley Raines & Robert Canady, "Scamper Strategies" (Thinking Publ.) by Carol Esterrreicher (for a little older kids), and "Story Making" (Thinking Publ.) by Robin Peura & Carolyn DeBoer (for younger kids). I also used a Cooperative Learning book, "Lessons for Little Ones" (Kagan Publ.) by Lorna Curran for ideas. Many of the Cooperative Learning type activities are excellent language activities too, a great bonus from an SLP's point of view. Then I started looking at picture storybooks from all of their lists. Some were out of print, some seemed dull, and I just didn't like some of the others. But there are many wonderful picture books available, and these resources will help you get started. Books for older children typically have fewer illustrations, but attractive pictures may help a child explore reading and language.

. . I began small the first year, with one first grade teacher and one kindergarten teacher. By mid-year, another first grade teacher was asking for me to come in her classroom too - whew! a vote of approval! Now I am working with kindergarten, first and second grades. Using leads from the sources I've mentioned, I look for books with imagination, rich vocabulary, appealing pictures, rhyme and rhythm, some with predictable repetitions, creative twists and endings. Our school's goal has been to increase reading scores -- showing children how much fun that reading can be as important as drilling on skills. So I try to read with lots of expression, and ham it up a little.  Books and reading are fun!

reading dragon . . A story might go like this:
** The teacher remains with the class, helping with 'crowd control' until you are comfortable, and stays available in the classroom always!! ** Class sits on the floor in story area. I've found that the students stay focused better sitting up close to you, rather than letting them sit at their desks. If you don't know all of the children by name well enough, one method is to use craft sticks labeled with each child's name to make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute. Most stories and follow-up will take about 20 to 30 minutes, projects with drawing and writing a little more.
. . Show the book, and begin by asking what the class can tell by looking at the cover. Who or what might the story be about? What do you think might happen? Can you tell if this is a real story or an imagination story? how?
. . Read the story. Discuss difficult vocabulary as it occurs, predict and imagine. Get the class involved and interacting with the story and characters. Let the children talk as spontaneously as possible without losing control - sometimes, it's a pretty fine line. But this is another skill you and they will learn.
. . After the story, retell the sequence of events, or recount the characters, details, and conclusion. Have the children relate the story in some way to their own experiences, or ask what they might do if . . . Review Bloom's Taxonomy - your questions must go beyond the yes/no, who and what facts. Use scaffolding of answers. If a child gets stuck, they can "phone a friend". You can expand by having the class write and illustrate "If I were . . I would . . ." With some stories, withhold the conclusion, and have the class write and illustrate their own idea of how the story might end. Encourage creativity. Let the children show off their creations.

. ."The Magic of Stories " has many more structures and ideas for using literature for language development, and many other resource books will give you ideas - but these are some of my favorite books. I've arranged the stories by grade level as I use them, but many could slide up or down.

"What Do You Do With a Kangaroo?" Mercer Mayer. Wonderful rhythm and language, with predictable repetitive lines. This story is especially good at the beginning of the year to catch the attention of the class.
"Jamberry" Bruce Degan. Rhythm and rhyme. Read through, then again line at a time as a group chant or 'rap'.
"Sheep In a Jeep", "Sheep On a Ship", "Sheep In a Shop", "Sheep Trick or Treat"" Nancy Shaw. Cute drawings, simple story lines that rhyme, rhyme, rhyme.  Beep, Beep!
"Quick As A Cricket"  Audrey Wood.  Painless introduction to similes.  Then have students think of something 'as green as..', 'as big as...'  Use HELP II materials for practice.
"A House Is A House For Me" Mary Ann Hoberman. Rhyme and think-stretching. Draw houses - a tree, the ocean, a school - and decide what they could be houses for.
"Pigs" Robert Munsch.  Speaking of pigs.... a lively story about a little girl who lets the family pigs out of the pen.  They swarm through the house, the school, ...  when you ask kindergartners to draw their favorite part, and write the key words, many will choose the part where the pigs hijack the school bus...  They are really pleased when they can sound out and write p-i-g and b-u-s.
"Good Dog, Carl" Alexandra Day. A wonderful wordless book. Show the students the pictures, then have them take turns telling the story, one page at a time.
"That's Good! That's Bad" Margery Cuyler. and "Over the Steamy Swamp" by Paul Geraghty. These introduce the concept of circular stories.
"Raising Dragons" Jerdine Nolen. A little girl discovers a dragon egg, with interesting consequences.  Ever eaten dragon-popped popcorn?

First Grade
"Three Billy Goats Gruff" Ted Dewan. The Janet Stevens version is right for kindergarten, but first graders enjoys this tougher version of the tale.
"Imogene's Antlers"  David Small.  Vocabulary and prediction.  Withhold ending, and the kids make their own.  Or show the ending, have them discuss, or write and illustrate "If I had feathers, I would . . ."  Make a class book.  Another idea - use a scanner to place student's work on computer screen - as a Power Point slide show, or as a screen saver, or on on the class web page!
"Hailstones and Halibut Bones" Mary O'Neil. Read several different color poems while the children close their eyes, listening for imagery. It may be poetry, but it's amazing how well even first graders get in the mood. Have the class illustrate &/or write about other colors that weren't read aloud, and share ideas.
"Paper Bag Princess" Robert Munsch. Discuss characters, retell the sequence of events, ask opinions about the prince and princess. First graders can write and illustrate favorite part of the story. Would you marry someone like Prince Ronald?
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" I laminated drawings for the story that I found at a teacher's supply store, and used them in a variety of activities - having children figure the correct sequence, then retell the story. Or the class can discuss "what if . . ," "was it right that . . ," "what should . . ." type questions
"Deep in the Forest" Brinton Turkle. A wordless retelling of the Goldilocks story, reversed with a baby bear in Goldilock's place. Make sure the students know the Goldilocks story. Then show the Deep in the Forest pictures, silently first, then give each child a chance to tell a frame of the story. Withhold ending the last page, and have children draw and write their own ending. My favorite was a first grade boy who drew a silver bear in the tree - he was wearing armor so no one could shoot him!
"Mysterious Tadpole" Steven Kellogg. Withhold ending, have class predict their own. Have them begin with "The egg hatched, and it was a . . .", then write more about whatever it was. Let them illustrate, and bind all the papers together to make a class book which becomes available in the class library. Teachers report these are re-read eagerly.
"Do Not Open" Brinton Turkle. A lady and her cat find an unusual bottle on the beach after a storm, then they outsmart the dangerous genie inside. Ask Where did the bottle come from? Why did she open the bottle? What happened to the person who found it last time?....
"Three Little Pigs", "Hansel and Gretel", and "Cinderella" James Marshall. Good illustrations, enjoyable versions of our basic tales, good at first grade level.
"Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" Eugene Trivizas. This story turns the 3 little pigs story on it's head. The children can compare and contrast this fanciful story with the original.
"Velveteen Rabbit" Margery Williams. Read the story, then have the students retell the sequence of events. This story also lends itself to developing The Characters, The Problems, The Solution, with age appropriate writing or drawings. Actually, I've just about given up on this story... I can't read it without getting all teary...
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", ".. a Moose a Muffin", ".. a Pig a Pancake" Laura Numeroff. They are fast, so you can read all three, and then have students make their own circle story. Set up the four edges of a sheet of paper with 1) If you give a mouse a flower 2) he will ... 3) then he will ... 4) then he will ...(and back to needing a flower again.) After I discussed the concept of a circle story, one boy told me the paper made it a square story.... kids!
"Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge" Mem Fox. After the story, class sits in circle and pass a small basket while each child contributes a memory that made them happy. "I remember . . . ." Perhaps link this to Thanksgiving, or to "Grandparent's Day", if your school does that. If a student isn't ready to contribute the first time, we allow them to 'pass', and offer again on a second turn around the circle.

Second grade
"Rapunzel" Carol Hayer. Follow the story with questions - some with answers available in the story, others that require the children to process on their own. Did the witch like Rapunzel? Why did she put her in the tower? Why was her hair braided? I've written and numbered the questions on a separate page, and made numbered craft sticks. Each child answers the question according to his draw, and I've found they all attend much closer than if I just ask questions.
"Three Little Javelinas" Susan Lowell. Compare this story about three little wild peccaries who live in the SouthWest desert and must deal with the coyote.
"Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One" Kate Duke. Little mice who introduce the idea of a story needing When, Where, Who, Adventure, and Ending and so on. Classroom teachers have a variety of structures with this theme - Characters, Problem, Solution.
"Tuesday" and "June 29, 1999" David Wiesner. Flying Frogs! Giant Vegetables! Great drawings and what an imagination! Second graders can write to continue the stories.
"Heckedy Peg" Audrey Wood. Begin with word associations, such as in HELP books. Then read the story and work through the puzzle of how the mother knew her children. Ask what other stories this one makes them think of, and why. This is a good one for later in the school year - you might be surprised at their insights.
"Dinosaur Bob" William Joyce. Doesn't every family bring home a dinosaur from their vacation?
"Judy and the Volcano"  Wayne Harris.  Begin a story as the book ends...  about two famous writers, a gorilla, and a giant spider web...
"Piggie Pie" Marjorie Palantini. My new favorite! Outrageous illustrations and word play. After reading the story, I ask them to tell me five fairy tales woven into this one.

  I love books about dragons and dinosaurs, and the kids do too.  These serve as a fun introduction for "Auditory Processing in Dinosaurland " (Great Ideas for Teaching) work pages for listening and following directions, available from the Super Duper catalog.  I usually do a couple with both first and second grades just before our first parent - teacher conferences, sometimes providing some interesting conversation.
  "Patrick's Dinosaurs" and "What Happened to Patrick's Dinosaurs " Carol Carrick.  Imaginative interaction between boys and dinosaurs.  I use these with first grade.
"The Tale of Custard the Dragon" and "Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight" Ogden Nash.  Engaging poetry tells the story of a Dragon who thought he was a coward, but saves the day.  Great wordplay and humor. I use these with second grade.

If you would like to share literature based SLP inclusion ideas, please write! (Click on the dragon)

bookpile1.gif - 1.1 K Some of these books are available to order online from Amazon Books - I've found them to be fast, reliable, and a bargain!.
Click on a title below for a direct connection to Amazon:
What Do You Do With a Kangaroo? Jamberry
Paper Bag Princess Deep In The Forest
Goldilocks Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Imogene's Antlers Good Dog Carl
Mysterious Tadpole Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One
Velveteen Rabbit Hailstones and Halibut Bones
Heckedy Peg Dinosaur Bob
Patrick's Dinosaurs What Happened to Patrick's Dinosaurs
Other resources: 
LinguiSystems, Inc.
3100 4th Ave.
East Moline, IL 61244

Thinking Publications
424 Galloway St.
PO Box 163
Eau Claire, WI 54702
Kagan Publishing
PO BOx 72008
San Clemente, CA 92674

Great Ideas for Teaching
PO Box 444
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

SLP Front
Early Learning

Email us -- clouss (at)

More dragons, all copyrighted by Kevin Palivec, can be seen at Malathar's Dragons.
My other life: Miniature Schnauzers