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NarrativeExpository Peer InteractionReadingWritingPre-SchoolEarly ElementaryUpper ElementaryMiddle/High SchoolTechnologyParent and Professional Information


August 07, 2018

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Spiders! 5 Books, Resources and Activities

Large Spider imageAs so often happens when I see a certain book or project, it reminds me of particular lessons that I taught while teaching at the former Juniper Park School in Westfield, MA. A recent display of books on spiders at our local library did just that. Below are some ideas on spider-related books that you may want to try this summer or tuck them away in your files for future use. In addition to other resources, several of the selections below are Anansi trickster tales which were first told by the Ashanti people in Ghana. We begin our lesson suggestions with one of the Anansi stories adapted and retold by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Janet Stevens. These were always popular with second and third graders. I liked to use them to reinforce the SGM® complete and interactive episodes and character traits...

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July 24, 2018

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Tech Tuesday: Back to School Part 1: 5 Great Resources for Deconstructing Narratives and Information

Logos for ArticleTechnology resources provide context through visuals and text, and these can be an extremely engaging way to introduce narrative and expository language structures to build comprehension. We can, along with our students, analyze the content of apps and websites in a process of co-engagement: What do you see? What do I see? MindWing’s narrative language icons and maps (Story Grammar Marker®) and corresponding expository language structures (ThemeMaker®) will lend a strategic and specific focus toward building the comprehension of discourse as you explore these resources! EPIC! Books for Kids is a clearinghouse of digital texts that are free for educators (sign up for the Educator Account). This resource is accessible on the web, iPad or even Apple TV, and contains 25,000 books, providing an experience similar to walking through a Scholastic Book Fair. The books are searchable by topic...

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July 03, 2018

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Two Summer Books (and More) with Feelings!

Heart icon graphicAs a former teacher of 38 years, I know summer is a time for educators to catch some much-needed R&R with family and friends. It is also a time to reflect on the past school year; what we thought went well and what changes we can make in the upcoming school year to improve student learning. I am always on the lookout for new books/materials to add to my lessons and recently came across two books that may interest you...

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June 26, 2018

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Tech Tuesday: Contextualizing Narrative and Social Interventions (Minecrafting)

Minecraft Education logoMaybe you’ve heard of Minecraft. In the past several years, this gaming universe has become particularly popular with the elementary set, and also has sparked efforts to incorporate its visually engaging and spatially useful interface into educational contexts. This post was sparked by some questions from a reader of this blog who wrote me to inquire whether I use Minecraft in my work and as a language development context, so I thought I might elaborate on that here. Complicated, right? My philosophy on technology integration in speech and language work has always been that tech is a tool to establish context, engagement, foster interaction and provide visual supports. It’s for this reason that complex, extended activities with technology such as Minecraft are not something I gravitate towards, though they are certainly possible if well planned. After all, we tend to have a limited amount of time for intervention with our students, and every minute is important...

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June 01, 2018

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Summer Activities and Learning—2018

Sun Burst image“June is bustin’ out all over!” This is a title from a song from the Rogers and Hammerstein Musical, “Carousel.” I played the character of Julie Jordan in this musical back in high school, and this song plays in my mind every June! Also, the month of June has always signified to me—and to most people, probably—the END of school and the BEGINNING of summer. However, for many of us, the start of “summer” means teaching summer school, summer tutoring, doing summer learning programs, conducting language/literacy camps and many other learning activities. Below is a list of blogs/lessons that would be effective and engaging to use with your students in these settings!...

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May 29, 2018

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Tech Tuesday: Problem-Solving Approach Using Story Grammar Marker® Icons

Boy Being Bullied pictureOf late, I’ve unfortunately had a number of students who are needing to deal with getting teased or bullied. This is a tough area to intervene in because it is so sad and frustrating to see a young student being victimized, particularly when their social learning and communicative challenges likely are the reason why. It’s also difficult because we can’t really just provide one way to respond. “Ignore it,” being realistic, oftentimes does not work. Over the past few years, I have worked in these situations around problem-solving approaches, Story Grammar Marker® providing a great tool in the process. Problem-solving can be considered to be a forked format, with SGM®’s icons providing a guide to consider the who, where and when the problem involves, the nature of the problem itself, feelings and internal states/thoughts resulting, and the plan (in the case of teasing, to end it)...

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April 20, 2018

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Tech Tuesday: Interpreting Research on Narratives and Autism

In this Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, we turn our attention more specifically on our students and clients with unique social learning and language characteristics. A recent (2017) study by Westerveld and Roberts, The Oral Narrative Comprehension and Production Abilities of Verbal Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum, has a number of implications that I would like to interpret in the context of tools available for narrative intervention. The study involved assessment of preschoolers’ narratives (notably an uninvestigated area for preschool students with autism, according to the article) via presentation of a fictional narrative and administration of comprehension questions and a retelling task. A large grouping within the sample did not produce a retelling that could be analyzed, but the 19 that did were assessed for length, semantic diversity, grammatical complexity and accuracy, intelligibility, inclusion of critical events, and narrative stage. The article notes that most of the research on spontaneous language of preschoolers with autism has focused on free play, rather than the ability to pull language together into narratives...

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