Language in the Classroom: Reading Integration! (with FREEBIES!)

Today, I am once again linking up with Nicole Allison, from Speech Peeps, to
 continue our series on Language in the Classroom! If you missed our other posts in this series, you can check them out by clicking on the links below:
This series is unique in that Nicole discusses ideas and activities for therapy sessions and small group speech classes, while I am sharing ideas and activities for language in the general education classroom.  This month, we are discussing an important subject for speech and language integration…
Language skills are the foundation for literacy skills! It is no secret that as classroom teachers, we should consistently be implementing language instruction into our classroom lesson plans. Let’s take a look at a few ways to integrate language into our general classrooms for literacy skills. Here we go!
I am beyond BLESSED to work in the same building as Nicole from Speech Peeps. To say she is an amazing speech and language pathologist is an understatement. To say she “knows her stuff” when it comes to learning, child development, and language skills is not giving her enough credit.  She’s brilliant! She’s also as sweet as can be and super inspiring to work with day to day.   Before I met Nicole, I’m going to be totally honest and make a confession:
I didn’t really think about the “speech teacher” or feel I had anything in common with her. I thought she was a professional that just sort of showed up in my IEP or ETR meetings and worked strictly with the kids on her caseload. I didn’t think there was any way she’d have time to help a regular teacher or be a resource for me. 
WOW, was I wrong!
 AND, I was missing out on a bazillion learning opportunities for my students. 
Invite your Speech and Language Pathologist into your classroom. You AND your students will gain amazing perspectives and skills! 
Last year, I expressed some concerns that were taking place in my classrooms. I had students who were having difficulty explaining their ideas and thoughts at the carpet. They struggled to tell a story or share an idea. Their thoughts were disjointed and their sentences didn’t flow or “make sense” at times. This, in turn, was really having a negative effect on their reading comprehension.  Your SLP is quite frankly a “language master” – so don’t be afraid to collaborate and ask them questions! Chances are, he or she truly WANTS to work with you and your students. 
Nicole had instant ideas for me that we quickly put into place.  She came into my room and shared a language tool with my kids called the EET or Expanding Expression Tool. The EET is a multi-sensory approach to oral expression, and it really helped some of my struggling kiddos organize their thoughts. You can see Nicole and I holding the EET in the picture above. You can find more information about the EET on their website, by clicking HERE
Why am I sharing this with you?
I never would have known about the EET if I hadn’t reached out and collaborated with our remarkable SLP.
Nicole and I also played Headbanz with my students. The kids had to speak in complete sentences and use complete thoughts as they interacted with their peers.

As we started to work on understanding and clarifying our explanations during whole group mini lessons, I started to see an improvement in my struggling students’ reading comprehension skills and their ability to participate in discussions about the books we were reading both as a whole class and at the small group table. If you are seeing some speech or language weaknesses in your classroom, I urge you to reach out to your SLP and collaborate on ideas together. The results are worthwhile. 🙂
Every year, I have a few students in my classroom who come to me on speech IEP’s or receive speech intervention.  The SLP pulls them from my room for their therapy session and they come back and join the classroom.  Again, I am airing my dirty laundry here, but I used to not give a great deal of attention to my kiddos’ speech goals when I first started teaching.  Now, having had more experience with literacy instruction and definitely knowing more research than I did as a “fresh-out-of-college” graduate, I see how VERY important it is that I am aware of my students’ speech and language goals. My students are in my classroom day in and day out – and I should be providing as much help to the SLP with these goals as I can.  I created this very quick “snapshot” page that I use to record the focus sounds and skills my speech students are working on with their SLP. In this way, I can refer to it and help my students on their goals during one-on-one time, small groups, and whenever possible within the whole group classroom setting.  By helping them with their speech and language goals, I am ultimately helping them with their overall reading and literacy goals, too. 
Download this FREEBIE “Speech Spotlight” recording page by clicking HERE or on the picture below:
You know ALL those assessments you give to your students? Those letter-sound assessments, phonics assessments, and even running records are VALUABLE information for your SLP.  If our students are struggling with the /sh/ sound, and have been working with their speech teacher for intervention, it’s necessary that we pay attention to that sound on the assessments we give in our classrooms. Why? It helps them and you know if the interventions are working. Sure, they take their own assessments on our students, but we all know that the more data we have the better off we are to make informed decisions. It’s also necessary to make sure these students are transferring the skills and growth they are making with the SLP to our general classroom setting – which is, ultimately, a big goal for the child!  If you are noticing a skill or sound a child is struggling with, you can also bring these assessments to your SLP and ask them for advice on how to help the child. 
I have students every year who struggle with the /th/ and /f/ sounds. Last year, Nicole was able to share some quick and easy activities and interventions she uses with her speech students for these sounds. By taking advantage of these ideas, I was able to not only help my students with their speech skills, but I helped them with their READING and WRITING skills as well. Why? It’s all CONNECTED. 🙂 If my students are having trouble saying the /th/ and /f/ sounds in their speech, they may also have trouble reading these sounds or they may very likely lack the confidence to read aloud in front of their peers – something I definitely do not want for any of my little sweethearts! 🙂
Are you in need of some quick, simple phonics assessments that you can use in your classroom to help monitor student growth? You might be interested in my ELA No Prep Assessment Binder! It’s packed with lots of assessments from a variety of phonics patterns that will help inform you about the sounds and skills your students’ have mastered.
Click HERE to check out the binder, or click any of the two photos below:

When we know what our students need to work on, small group is a perfect time to integrate various skills and instructional activities into our day! I love incorporating speech and language skills into my small groups, because even if the skill is targeting a focus sound that one child in the group is working on….
That’s right! Because language and literacy are so closely connected, working on these skills benefits ALL students in my classroom. It strengthens ALL of my students’ literacy skills. So, when I discovered a couple of kiddos in my class were struggling with the /th/ and /f/ sounds on their spelling tests and while reading aloud, I whipped up this little game called Thumb & Fish Sound Race!
(Don’t judge me on the title of the game…it was a little late when I created this haha!)
Here’s how you play:
Cut and laminate the picture cards. A student picks a card and says the name of the picture aloud. Encourage and help the student by modeling the correct placement of the tongue when saying a word that begins with the /th/ sound. Over-exagerate it by sticking your tongue out between your teeth to show the child difference between the /th/ sound, and the /f/ sound, which requires us to touch our teeth to our lips. 
If the child picks and reads a picture that starts with the /th/ sound, he or she moves his counter to the nearest “thumb” picture. If he or she reads a picture with a /f/ sound, the child moves his or her counter to the nearest “fish” picture on the game board  The first child to reach the “FINISH” space WINS! 🙂 
Download this FREEBIE game by clicking HERE!

This is a simple game that my kids had so much fun with! I also loved it because they were working on some important sound skills. I know it benefited their overall reading, speaking, and writing abilities.  It was also a quick, focused game that we were able to tie into our small group reading lesson during. You can find more little freebie activities such as this one in Nicole’s TpT Store by clicking HERE.

This one is an easy one, people! 🙂 We know that the more children read, the better readers they become. The more children write, the better writers they become. So, it makes sense that the more children converse and use their language skills orally in our classrooms, the better speakers and communicators they will be, too!  I always like to remind teachers in my presentations that I give at conferences that there is GOOD noise and there is bad noise. GOOD noise is the sweet sound of children having meaningful discussions with their peers and with their teachers. As general classroom teachers, let’s not forget that holding rich discussions using the books we are reading in our classrooms not only boosts comprehension, but it boosts our students’ language abilities, too.  Don’t be afraid to let your students discuss, share, and exchange ideas.  Engaging, rich discussion boosts overall literacy skills. It helps students comprehend, make connections, analyze inferences, and increase questioning skills.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and feel inspired to embrace those speech and language skills in your own classroom. Don’t forget to drop by Nicole’s blog to read her side of this topic. She shares how she integrates literacy and language into her therapy lessons and small groups.

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  1. I totally agree here! Working with the SLP is a fabulous experience. Mine loves to integrate what we're learning about the things she suggests are often helpful for the whole class.

  2. What a fabulous post!! Thank you very much for sharing it here. These mini lessons are very beneficial for preschool and kindergarten students. My sister teaches at a Phoenix pre-k so I’ll let her know about this post.

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