Tag Archives : Apps & Technology

Diversity, Equity, & AAC

Diversity, Equity, & AAC

Anne Page, ASHA certified speech language pathologist, educator, and AAC coach joined me for an interview in my Diversity, Culture, & Equity series and shared her perspective on these topics. She currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona and she is passionate about Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) because she loves the challenge of finding the best communication support system for her students. Anne acknowledges the need for increased diversity in the field of speech/language pathology and special education. As an Assistive Technology lead in her district, she is able to provide consultative and communication services for various schools and special education teams. In doing so, she recognizes the need for representation in many ways including the icons that are used on Alternative and Augmentative Communication(AAC) devices. Anne previously worked at a Title I school for 14 years and understands how important building rapport with children, families, and staff is to the success of children with special needs.

During the interview, we discuss ways that speech language pathologists can advocate for and create diverse materials for AAC users with complex communication needs. We discuss the significance of attaining access to AAC for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) children and families. At times, there may be limitations to getting funding and devices and that is why SLPs truly play an important role in speaking up for these children so that they have the resources that they need to communicate. Children need to share their voices and we can help ensure that they have that opportunity to do so in the classroom, at home, and in their communities. She provides ideas on how to involve parents and colleagues to increase equity for BIPOC children with complex communication needs.

Additionally, you’ll learn ways that you can effectively increase the language & literacy skills of AAC users. She explains the differences between options of devices based on children’s communication abilities. After this interview, speech/language pathologists and special educators will be able to continue on their journey of being more culturally responsive when working with children with complex communication needs. You may watch the interview here. I welcome your thoughts in the comments.

All the best,

Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist/Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate



Technology and Response to Intervention {RTI Blog Hop}

Technology and Response to Intervention {RTI Blog Hop}

I am excited to be a part of this School Based Innovation and RTI Blog Hop hosted by Jennifer Preschern at Speech, Language, and Literacy Lab, LLC! Thanks for the opportunity to share my ideas about RTI during ASHA’s Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Speech-language pathologists definitely play a role in Response to Intervention or RTI as early identification of children at risk for speech-language challenges is essential to our scope of practice. RTI is a tiered system that requires quality evidence based instruction, universal screening, and progress monitoring of specific learning targets. In my school district, I have observed that many teachers have a good understanding of implementing research based instruction for students according to the curriculum. However, they need assistance with providing different strategies and educational opportunities for students that are not learning as expected. They often need assistance with progress monitoring identified weak speech, language, and academic skills.


This is where the use of technology can help provide research based intervention while also recording the accuracy of students’ performance. There has been an increase in the use of technology in speech-language therapy, education, and in homes throughout the world. Many kids are very knowledgeable about using computers and iPads. Although technology should never replace social interactions and oral communication, it can be a valuable tool. When implemented correctly, technology can support direct instruction and provided practice for kids working on different speech-language therapy and academic skills.

I recommend HearBuilder Educational Software Program by Super Duper Publications because it provides interventions to address phonological/phonemic awareness skills, auditory memory, following directions, and listening comprehension (sequencing). The program is research based and provides mini instructional lessons as well as independent practice opportunities to address previously identified areas of need. This year, my speech language pathology department purchased the internet subscription for SLPs to use in the ENTIRE district! How awesome is that! I have seen success using the program for students receiving RTI as well as those receiving speech-language therapy.

For example, many kindergarten and 1st grade teachers have reported that their students have difficulty learning early reading skills such as rhyming, blending sounds to make words, segmenting words into sounds, etc. This program has a specific module to address these phonemic awareness skills that a speech-language pathologist can assign as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention. The SLP can select from the following specific early reading skills for each student to practice and the program will track the percentage of accuracy as well:

Phoneme Addition, Phoneme Blending, Phoneme Deletion, Phoneme Manipulation, Phoneme Segmentation & Identification, Rhyming, Sentence Segmentation, Syllable Blending, Syllable Segmentation

I recommend periodically watching students as they complete learning tasks, reviewing and printing data. Doing so, will enable the SLP to best make adjustments as needed to settings of the selected computer based intervention based on students’ performance.

I have also observed that many children at risk for language disorders and learning disabilities struggle with auditory memory. The HearBuilder program has an excellent component that addresses memory for numbers, words, WH questions, details, and auditory closure. I suggest selecting 1 or 2 sections of the auditory memory program to provide intensive intervention in the students’ weak areas. As they progress through the different levels within each section, you can give them access to complete another memory module (e.g. memory for WH questions).

Similarly, the following directions intervention section of this program has a systematic hierarchy that builds from: basic concepts (qualitative, spatial), quantitative, sequential, temporal, conditional. I recommend that the SLP change the settings of the program so each student only has access to practice 1 or 2 sections. Many regular education teachers often report that students do not following directions in the classroom. It may be because they do not understand basic vocabulary concepts that are addressed in the HearBuilder program.

The sequencing intervention provides practice with listening to information to put instructions and stories in order. Sequencing is a critical skill that is essential for successful verbal and written narrative development. Many kids at risk for a speech-language disorder or learning disability struggle in this area.

In addition to using the data tracking in HearBuilder, you may also use other informal assessment tools to monitor students progress in RTI. For example, I have a FREEBIE for you that can be used to record baseline and progress check data for “Wh” questions in my TPT store here.

I have other progress monitoring tools in my TPT store for basic concepts (qualitative, spatial) and vocabulary (hierarchy of semantic processing). Just click on the progress monitoring custom category to review the resources available for speech-language pathologists, educators, or RTI specialists to use.

Thanks for reading the blog today. Make sure you read Starfish Therapies‘ RTI blog article tomorrow and other posts the rest of the month. You can learn more about Starfish Therapies here if you need direct speech-language, physical, or occupational therapy services and you live in San Francisco, California. Thanks for joining the celebration today for Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Education Specialist

Speech-Language Therapy Technology Resource Guide

Speech-Language Therapy Technology Resource Guide

I am excited that my complimentary Speech-Language Therapy Resource Guide is now available in my TPT store!! I have wanted to put this together for a while now and I am glad that it is done! I am sure that I will add resources to this guide from time to time. When you follow my TPT store and subscribe to my blog, you will receive direct notifications of product updates.

So, you may be wondering, “why would a speech-language pathologist want to integrate technology in therapy sessions?” There are so many reasons. If you are a school based speech-language pathologist, this provides you a great way to differentiate instruction by what you are teaching (content), how (process), and product (end result).  You can assign one or two students to work at a technology station with headphones while you interact directly with others. 

I have many students who are working on answering wh questions and I often have them practice using Webber Interactive “WH” Questions CD by Super Duper Publications. I love this CD because it provides a brief lesson for each type of question and then the child can practice answering the specific question set that he or she needs to work on. You can select an option to provide the child with a field of 2-4 choices and I usually select a field of 4 choices. Another awesome part is the CD tracks the child’s accuracy. At the end of the session, I just print the data and put it in the child’s file. I also frequently have students who are practicing listening comprehension at the story level use Auditory Memory for Quick Stories (Fiction)CD or Auditory Memory High-Interest Quick Stories (Non-Fiction) CD  that also tracks students’ data.

Another way to integrate technology into speech-language therapy sessions is to lead a whole group or individual session using a resource that directly addresses a specific learning target for your student or client. In the guide, you will find a list of interactive websites, iPad Apps, video clips, SMART Board lessons, and iBook lessons. You will also find a list of resources according to speech-language therapy work areas of need such as speech articulation, speech fluency, language, vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, auditory memory, pragmatic language, and phonological awareness.  I have also included a list of helpful websites that have great printables and general information beneficial for SLPs. 

For example, I frequently use the website jacobslessons.com with my K-2 students who need practice with prepositions and pronouns. I use do2learn.com with students who need to work on categorization (what doesn’t belong) or synonyms and antonyms. My 3rd-5th grade students are pros at using henryanker.com to practice synonyms and antonyms. Although this website states that it has tests by grade level,  I use them as therapy instructional activities.

As you know, there are tons of iPad Apps. It is important that the SLP carefully selects apps that will directly address the needs of each speech language student or client. You want them to have fun interacting with technology, but it needs to be meaningful and therapeutic as well. Therefore, the SLP will need to introduce the app as she would a usual speech language activity and then guide them through or modify the app as needed to work towards mastery of the skill being taught.

Many SLPs use iPads in therapy and it can also be a great tool to download and organize TPT digital speech-language activities into iBooks. This way you can have easy access to a library of fantastic therapy lessons. I recommend using my 2nd-5th Grade Common Core Standards Vocabulary task cards in iBooks to provide educationally relevant therapy.

For those that provide direct therapy in a general education or special education classroom, you may use several lessons included in this guide on a SMART Board. 

I hope that you take time to explore this guide as you plan to integrate new technology resources into your speech-language therapy sessions with your students or clients. Keep in mind that technology should never replace skilled direct therapy instruction by a licensed SLP. Kids still need personal interactions to learn and practice communication and language skills. However, technology can be used to supplement more traditional therapy lessons. 

Remember the overall goal of speech-language therapy is for students or clients to make gains in their communication, language, and literacy skills. In doing so, they will make progress towards or master their IEP speech-language objectives or goals in private practice therapy.  

Thanks for reading the blog today!

Tamara Anderson

Literacy Website Review  # 4 {Fry Sight Words}

Literacy Website Review # 4 {Fry Sight Words}

Many students with language disorders have co-occurring learning disabilities in the areas of reading and writing. They need direct intervention to increase their reading decoding, sight word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension.

Students need practice to improve their automaticity for oral reading of sight words. Recently, I have been thinking of ways to support the special education teachers’ goal of improving the reading skills of students with reading disabilities and language disorders.  Sometimes the progress is slower than we would anticipate and we are eager to close the gap when the kids are reading several grade levels behind. We discussed that the students really need to improve their sight word recognition of Fry words. Research shows that students need to read the first 300 by 3rd grade and 1000 words in 4th and 5th grade to successfully read on grade level. 

I was going to make flash cards for students to take home for practice and then I stumbled across the website: http://www.uniqueteachingresources.com/Fry-1000-Instant-Words.html

The Unique Teaching Resources website is awesome because it has the Fry words flashcards for 1000 high frequency words already created! Plus, there are progress monitoring checklists for all the words. I especially like that the words are divided into sets of 10 and 20 words based on the needs of students that you are working with. 

This is an excellent resource to share with parents for them to encourage their kids to practice their sight words. If you have a literacy night at your school, this is a great website to share with parents and staff to access the FREE and beneficial resources! 

An added bonus on this website is that it includes 100 nouns with pictures. This is great to use with language disordered kids who are building their receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. 

In a special education classroom, students sometimes practice their sight words online via a power point presentation of words. However, I think is important for  them to also have access to practice their sight words with flash cards when they are on the go. They can practice reading on the bus, in the car, at home easily without having to turn on a computer. Yes I do love technology. However, I also believe back to the basics instruction is needed as well. 

Students in K-2nd generally practice their sight words with hands on flash cards or other word work activities when they are learning to read. What about students in grades 3-5 or even middle and high school who are reading below grade level? They still need intervention to improve their sight word recognition and reading decoding even though they are expected at that level to read to learn. But what happens when they still need to learn sight words? Special education teachers need to make remediating this area a priority and not just teach comprehension strategies and the grade level standards despite time constraints. Yes, kids need to learning comprehension strategies but they must learn sight word and how to decode words too! 

This educational literacy website is created by a teacher for other educators and it is definitely jam packed with great FREE literacy resources along with some lesson plans available for purchase. 

The website does not directly share other ideas for students to learn sight words other than flash cards. However, they can play games such as BINGO, Go Fish, and Memory to practice this skill. Dr. Edward Fry’s book is the perfect resource for this.
(Dr. Fry’s 1000 Instant Words: The Most Common Words for Teaching Reading, Writing, & Spelling). You can view a preview here:books.google.com/books?isbn=1576907570

Here is a great website if you would like to see the Fry word lists as related to the Common Core Standards for K-5th grade. http://www.k12reader.com/subject/vocabulary/fry-words/

I like that the K12 reader website reminds you to have students practice their reading sight words in contexts of sentences, paragraphs, and writing the words as well. 

Thanks for reading the blog today!

* Tamara Anderson
BSL Speech & Language

Literacy Review # 3 { Technology }

Literacy Review # 3 { Technology }

This week, I have been integrating technology based literacy activities in pediatric speech-language group therapy sessions. So many kids with receptive language disorders need to improve their listening  comprehension skills when read fiction and non-fiction text. That is why I love the 2 products from Super Duper Publications, Auditory Memory for Quick Stories (fiction text) and Auditory Memory High-Interest Quick Stories, Curriculum-Based Stories for Science and Social Studies (non-fiction text). There are 30 fiction stories and 30 non-fiction stories. I purchased these about 3 years ago and I am so glad that I did! 



Using these resources allows the SLP or classroom teacher to differentiate instruction by content or what the child needs to learn. The SLP may vary her delivery of services by providing individualized instruction to a student on a specific learning objective (e.g. multiple meaning words) while other students practice their listening comprehension skills using these literacy technology resources. 

These Cds also have built in capabilities for differentiated instruction based on the process because there are leveled settings available that the SLP or teacher can select based on a child’s current literacy abilities. For example, on level 1, a child is presented with a question after each picture. The levels increase by providing more auditory information and visual pictures before the next set of comprehension questions. The 4th and highest level is strictly auditory and requires keen listening for details from stories. 

I love this product because it provides children an opportunity to improve their memory skills and language comprehension. It also helps foster a love of literacy. This is a definite win for the SLP and teacher because this program tracks data according to percentages from each story. I recommend printing the scores regularly to ensure that you maintain meticulous therapy data or work samples for your classroom.   

Have you used this resource before? What are your thoughts?

Tamara Anderson
BSL Speech & Language

Literacy Website Review # 2 {Technology}

Literacy Website Review # 2 {Technology}

I am constantly adding new grade level fiction and non-fiction text to my speech-language therapy resources. It is critical that speech-language pathologists support developing children’s literacy skills on a regular basis. I do this by addressing listening comprehension and vocabulary IEP objectives related to text at students’ instructional reading level. An instructional reading level is the level of book that they can read with adult support. 

I love the website http://www.readinga-z.com/   because there is a ton of information on this site!You can search for books by different categories. I go right to the literature genre and leveled book collections when I need language therapy materials. 

If you are an SLP supporting the 3rd grade Common Core Reading Standards, you should click on the tab for Fables and access these books:


Each book is marked with an alphabetical letter that corresponds with a certain reading level. For example, the Boy who Cried Wolf is marked “Level E or 1st grade” but it supports the 3rd grade standard of teaching fables. I read aloud the stories to the children and have them follow along in a printed book. Then, I ask story comprehension and vocabulary questions. You can also have students practice story retell. 

I love that this website also has vocabulary lists available that are already sorted into Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III words. How awesome is that! The SLP can teach kids how to use context clues to understand the meaning of the words. 

You can also verbally model for your students how to verbally compare and contrast fiction/non-fiction text using the recommended paired book sets. Then have them practice this skill. This encourages kids to use higher level thinking skills to identify similarities and differences between the characters and events. Here is the link to access paired books by reading grade level: /http://www.readinga-z.com/book-related-resources/paired-books/

I frequently go to the leveled books tab when I want to differentiate instruction for my students. I will select a book for each child at their instructional reading level. For example, I may have a 4th grade student who is reading at a 3rd grade instructional level. So I may select level Q text such as:

Since I am a SLP, I read aloud the text so that the child is practicing their listening comprehension skills. However, I believe it is important to provide them access to books at their instructional reading level so they are not frustrated with their literacy practice. Their special education resource teacher addresses their reading decoding and comprehension objectives. 

You may access some of this information on the site for free! However, I recommend paying for a subscription because it is well worth the money! 

Thanks for visiting the blog today. 


Literacy Website Review {Technology}

Literacy Website Review {Technology}

Last school year, a friend of mine told me about roythezebra.com, a website that has an engaging fiction story, literacy worksheets, and interactive reading games.  The story is divided into nine parts and features the main character, Roy the zebra.  This is great to use as a group language therapy activity in the classroom. 

This year, I am currently enjoying using this resource with two language therapy groups.  Before reading the story, Roy the Tale of the Singing Zebra,  I ask my students questions to help them make predictions about what the story will be about. Then I read aloud the story during a  language therapy lesson in both a moderate intellectual disability class and a mild autism class. My students are enjoying viewing the story as it is displayed on the whiteboard and listening to my animated oral reading.  In one of the classrooms, I am using Mimio software that allows me to easily click through the pages of the story by touching the stylus pen on the white board. 

At the beginning of the story, Roy lives in a zoo where all his favorite activities of singing, dancing, and rolling around are banned. In part two, he is eager to escape from the horrible zoo and gets help from his friend George and his elephant friend Lucy. At the end of each part, my students want to know what happens next but they have to wait until the next weeks lesson.

I recommend that the SLP or teacher pause the reading of the story at times to model “think alouds” by asking questions. This helps check for story comprehension and teaches them to think while they are listening. This is especially necessary for students with language disorders because of the unknown vocabulary that is embedded in the story. There are discussion questions available for use after reading the story to further check for understanding. 

There are 27 literacy worksheets available or  3 for each part of the story that may be used after listening to the story. The worksheets address skills such as sentence construction, correct use of punctuation marks, capitalization, story sequencing, rhyming words answering literal comprehension questions, and character perspective taking. I think the worksheets are great to use as extension activities by the speech-language pathologist or the teacher as appropriate by the skill taught. However, I typically ask students verbal questions and ask them to orally respond due to time constraints during language therapy lessons. 

Additionally, this literacy website has interactive whiteboard lesson plans that can be paired with provided learning games to teach literacy skills. An associated worksheet is also available to be completed as classwork or homework. I have not personally used the interactive games, but have reviewed them online and told the special education teachers about them. Some of the learning games are free and some you have to pay $6.95 to access them.

Here is the list of the free learning games:
Alphabetical Order- sequence words in alphabetical order 

Double Consonants- add word endings (ff, ss, bl, br, cl, cr, ck, ng)

Singular or Plural- sorting activity to distinguish between singular and plural nouns  *This is a great activity for SLPs to use.

Long Vowel Phonemes- identify target sound blends by clicking on them to make new words *Certain sounds such as “er”, “ir”, “or” would be great to use with students practicing their speech articulation of vocalic /r/.

Rhyming words- identify words that sound the same or rhyme

Here is the list of the learning games available for purchase ($6.95):

Consonant Blends- targets phonological processing skill of blending and segmenting consonants to make CVCC words

Long Vowel Phonemes- complete access to learning game; add vowels to make new words 

Tim Bowerbank in the creator of roythezebra.com. He was inspired to create the character Roy, after a trip to South Africa. He requests that all users register on the website and subscribe to his literacy newsletter before using the free resources. 

I encourage you to integrate technology in your speech language therapy lessons or instructional time in the classroom. Thanks for the reading the blog today. 

Tamara  Anderson

Driven by Innovation

Driven by Innovation

On Sunday, I went to one of my favorite places in Atlanta, The High Museum. In fact, I love it so much I have an annual membership that I purchased for a steal back in September! The museum’s latest major exhibition is Dream Cars that features unique and imaginative cars that were designed in the 1930s through the present by Ferrari, Buggatti, General Motors, and Porsche. These automakers designed cars that changed the industry by challenging what was possible both technologically and stylistically. 

Here are a few photos from my visit. 

This made me think about the field of speech-language pathology and education. What are these industries doing to challenge the notion of what is possible for students’ communication and academic successes? What are speech-language pathologists and educators doing to modify how they assess students and implement therapy sessions and instruction? In recent years, I think SLPs and educators have done and continue to do a TREMENDOUS amount of preparation to select evidence based materials, evaluate what children already know, teach, and evaluate again to see what children learned. 

Common Core Standards and differentiated instruction are terms that I hear frequently while working as a school based speech-language pathologist. There are many people on both the pros and cons side of the Common Core Standards discussion and I’ll spare you the debate here. However, I like the accountability piece that the common core standards creates for school districts that use these standards to guide instruction. 

In the same manner, I believe that differentiated instruction, in which a teacher modifies how they teach, what they teach, and how they assess children is an essential shift in the style from traditional teaching. I also think that it should be best practice for all educators to implement curriculum design based on Grant Wiggins’ notion of creating a solid assessment before instructing students so that you know clearly what and how you expect them to demonstrate mastery of specific learning standards. 

As far as technology goes, there has been a significant increase in the amount of technology that SLPs and educators use to select lessons that drive children’s learning while implementing new techniques that assist in delivering results. The use of interactive SMART boards, IPads, Mimio Boards, and computer based therapeutic/educational program are engaging for children and contribute to learning when implemented effectively.  Additionally, teachers and SLPs are able to collaborate with other professionals not only at their school, but also nationwide and globally through the use of online blogs, discussion boards, Twitter, Pinterest, and other forms of social media. Children and adolescents in today’s society are very technologically savvy and I have observed that they love creative and innovative lessons rather than the same old therapy and education styles from even 5 to 10 years ago. 

What are ways that you implement creativity and innovation in your speech language therapy sessions or classroom? I’d love to hear! 

Tamara Anderson, Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Education Specialist

Valentine’s Word Associations

Valentine’s Word Associations

Today, I worked on Valentine’s word associations with some of my speech-language students during an arts & craft activity. They chose either red or pink construction paper and traced a large heart. I explained to them that word associations are words that go together or are related. I told them to share words they know that are related to Valentine’s day.

Here is an example of the heart my kindergarten student who has a significant fluency disorder made:

I then used the First Words Valentine IPAD application by Learning Touch to review the word associations. This application has cute graphics depicting each key word and then provides an opportunity for the students to drag each letter to spell the word. My kindergarten student was eager to place the letters in the correct spot as the background had a faded letter that told him how to spell the words and voiced the letter as he did so. He seemed to enjoy the game as it reinforced some of the words he stated when making his heart. Since he is a student with a fluency disorder, I directed him to practice saying his words in slow and easy sentences using his fluency strategies. He did a great job using his fluency strategies in structured sentences.

Here is another picture from a 3rd grade language therapy session today. The top left was an example I made. The remainder here are the beginning of my students’ word associations work. This group will write their associations on the back and practice using the words in oral sentences. I plan to read a short story to them later this week related to Valentine’s Day and have them identify word associations and also practice verbally summarizing and sequencing the story events.

Apps, Apps, Apps Oh My!

I have recently started using my I PAD in my speech language therapy sessions with some of my elementary school students. They LOVE LOVE LOVE the animated and interactive activities!  One of the first questions that I got last week was “Ms. Anderson, are we going to use the I PAD today?” to which I replied “Sure!” I do my best to vary my activities so that my students will be excited to practice their IEP goals.

My current favorite apps are the Common Core Vocabulary and Wh questions apps by Super Duper Publications. I love that I am able to have a group of students practicing their semantic skills, that the program tracks progress, and that I can view/email/print a graph with their percentages of accuracy.  I review language arts terms with my students with the app. However, there are also science, social studies, and math practice available as well. I think this application is a great way to take baseline and progress check data.

For grammar practice, I recommend the Grammar Wonderland app by McGraw Hill to address practice with types of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The students really like that they have the chance to maneuver the I PAD as if it is their favorite Wii game while they practice their language skills related to common core curriculum standards. I also like the irregular plurals and irregular verbs by AbiTalk although the graphics and cloze exercise layout is a bit basic. There are no data tracking available with these, but I would definitely add them to your speech language therapy toolkit.

I also like the Buddy Bear series of applications for younger students especially the Associations & Comparatives interactive books. When I worked with toddlers and preschoolers, they really liked the original hand held books so I am sure that these would be a hit. I used the Comparatives app with a 3rd grader to review the concept before instructing him with more advanced comparative adjectives and he was engaged as well as excited about completing the tasks.

There are so many I PAD apps that I believe SLPs, teachers, and parents can use in small group or individually with a student or child. Visit the blog another day to learn about other apps that I recommend.