As the MindWing blog has been focusing on using chapter books for older students, in conjunction with narrative and expository development tools, this Tech Tuesday post will also! In this post, we’ll take a look at technology resources that facilitate your access to chapter books. These strategies will enable you to use chapter books more easily as contexts when developing students’ sense of story and informational text structures with MindWing’s Story Grammar Marker® and Expository maps.
Naturally, we’d be conducting educationally relevant interventions even if we selected our own texts for lessons. For example, take this Common Core Standard for 5th Grade Reading:
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
The skills of describing how characters respond to challenges and summarizing a text are supported by the Critical Thinking Triangle® (see Critical Thinking Poster here) and use of a Complete Episode Poster or map, respectively, and can be addressed with texts of our own selection. However, isn’t it even more relevant if we can go the extra mile and use chapter books and texts that students are grappling with in their classroom, even if we don’t do so in their entirety?
The practice of aligning with both the necessary skill sets and the context of the classroom is not always an easy one. However, I am often inspired by the work in our field on contextually driven therapy by mavens of this topic such as Geraldine Wallach and Barbara Ehren:
“Strategies and linguistic skills that are part of a student's language intervention goals and objectives should be connected to content-area subjects. For example, if intervention included working on expository text, using familiar and high-interest topics (e.g., having students compare and contrast the articles written by two sports writers from different cities), we need to connect the compare/contrast activity from sports to a compare and contrast activity that involves two versions of a historical event (e.g., the American and British renditions of the American Revolution).Wallach, 2014
“Where do SLPs fit into the content/process picture? For years, I have been advocating that SLPs engage in “curriculum-relevant therapy” that is, that they use curriculum as context for language therapy but not try to teach curriculum per se. In this approach, an SLP would focus on language processes, or “underpinnings.”Ehren, 2009
Using actual curriculum texts in intervention, while avoiding the responsibility of “teaching” those particular texts, logically facilitates our students’ access to the content of the classroom while increasing the likelihood that they will generalize skills back there as well.
However, when it comes to chapter books that students may be reading (or the teacher reading to all) within the classroom, there are a few challenges. One of these is access: there may not be an extra copy available! The bigger challenge is time; chapter books are of course longer than picture books, and it is difficult for us to make the time to read them. What follows are a few tech tips to make this process easier, even if you just pick and choose a book or two for your students!
Apps such as Overdrive and Hoopla allow you to sign in with your public library account and access e-books and audiobooks.
Ehren, B. (2009). Looking through an adolescent literacy lens at the narrow view of reading. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 192-195.
Wallach, G. (2014). Improving clinical practice: A school-age and school-based perspective. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 45, 127-136.
Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology "through a language lens." Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.