Using Readily Available Material for Speech and Language Sessions
As SLP’s we’re always on the hunt for new materials to use. Instead of spending time that we probably don’t have searching, I’ve been trying to use my time wisely and take advantage of materials that are ready to go. Local online newspaper sites are the perfect go-to for language activities because they provide a base of content. They even have pre-made lessons ready to use on some sites! These allow for quick lessons that you can easily tweak to fit your student’s needs.
As a Boston native, I’ve been using the Boston Globe News in Education online. They provide lessons written by local teachers which are based on news articles and have common core standards embedded into the questions and activities. Tons of different activities are included, from videos, quizzes, webcasts, cartoons, and vocabulary lessons. The site does require a subscription but it is free (the school that I work in has a subscription and email out monthly links to staff). Tons of other newspapers around the country are offering similar educational programs. From a quick Google search, you can easily find one to use.
How I Use Online Newspapers
I love using these online educational programs because of the wide range of activities that go with them! From simply reading articles to writing and researching, there are so many options for students.
- Reading Articles: You don’t even have to use pre-made education materials! Most of my caseload benefits from reading articles and answering comprehension questions, summarizing, selecting the main idea, and recalling details. I also use articles to practice making inferences and predictions. After reading the title of the article you can ask “What do you think the article will be about?” After reading one paragraph at a time you can stop and ask again “What do you think will happen?” This is great way to work on real world vocabulary. I always ask my students to highlight any words they are unfamiliar with while reading. That way we can go back and use context clues to figure out what the words mean.
- Pre-made Lessons: The Boston Globe’s News in Education lessons include the article, worksheets with guided reading questions that focus on reading comprehension, and graphic organizers that allow students to compare and contrast articles, summarize, and answer critical thinking questions about the articles. These really help my students break down articles which would have been overwhelming and difficult to understand. We go through the guided reading questions which highlight the main focus and important details.
- Follow Up Activities: Articles can be particularly interesting for students because they’re all about what’s happening in their state or town. Let students select which stories to read or pick ones you know may catch their interest. These articles are great to set up a debate or have each student mock report them. This is a great way to practice summarizing with sequence and details and recalling information after reading it.
Who Can I Use Online Newspapers With?
- Middle-High school students who need support with language. As mentioned before, these activities are great for working on goals such as summarizing, finding main idea, recalling information, answering reading comprehension questions, and making inferences and predictions. These lend easily to writing activities as well. Students could write summaries or give their opinions. The Boston Globe offers lessons for students aging from kindergarten to 12h grade.
- K-4th grade students. I don’t work this population with but I can see online articles being useful material for asking and answering questions, reading for detail, and using different parts of speech – ask them to circle all of the proper nouns or adjectives.
- A Special Education Classroom. Newspapers in general are nice to use with students who are in special education classes and working on functional activities such as finding general information like the weather or looking up movie times. I like using the computer because it’s a tool they can use in their everyday lives. A nice activity is planning an event – be it a day at the movies or going to a park with a friend. We brainstorm all of the things we need to plan ahead and answer questions like “How would you get there?”, “What would you need to buy?”, “How much money should you need?”, and “What time should you get there?” These are practical life skills that also let us work on language and social skills.
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