Where to Start When Working On Main Idea In Speech Therapy

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You have speech students with main idea goals.  Don't know where to start so that you don't feel like a reading teacher?  I am here to help!

where to begin when working on main idea in speech therapy

Main idea?  Isn’t that a reading comprehension skill?  Yes, but it is also very much language based.  In order for a student to be able to comprehend and express the main idea, they must have intact lexical and syntactical knowledge.  They need to be able to express a complete sentence.  They need to be able to respond to WH questions.  They need to know the vocabulary of the question asked and of the passage presented.  See?  It is very much a language activity!

For an expository text, these strategies may include previewing the passage for its likely content, monitoring comprehension by asking oneself questions about the passage, finding the main idea, and summarizing the key points in one’s own words (Boardman, Scornavacco, & Klinger, 2013).

That is why it is recommended to teach students to use reading comprehension strategies by modeling it, teaching it one at a time, present it to them in small groups, provide guided practice, and have discussions about the material.   However, for students with difficulties with lexical and syntactical development, finding the main idea or summarizing key points will be extremely difficult.  Both of these strategies assume that students can comprehend at the sentence level.  Students should work on these skills in order to be able to be successful with a reading comprehension strategy of main idea, which is expected of them when they read expository text in the academic classroom.

Evidence shows that SLPs should work on comprehending the sentence level, increase amount of sentences, and then introduce concepts like main idea.  Students need to comprehend what sentences are about explicitly before they can name topics or express the gist of it all.  (Nippold, 2017).

 

WHERE SHOULD WE BEGIN WHEN WORKING ON MAIN IDEA IN SPEECH?

I like to start at the picture level, then sentence level, then paragraph level, and finally, the story level.  If they cannot express in one sentence the main idea of a picture, they won’t be able to do so of a story (even though they might be expected to in their classrooms!).

Picture level:

main idea tic-tac-toe: main idea at the picture level for speech therapy

Sentence level:

main idea tic-tac-toe: main idea at the sentence level for speech therapy

Paragraph level:

main idea tic-tac-toe: main idea at the paragraph level for speech therapy

WOULD YOU LIKE ALL OF THESE MAIN IDEA GAME ACTIVITIES SO YOU CAN PROBE AND SEE WHERE TO BEGIN WITH YOUR STUDENTS?!

Tic-tac-toe games are a fun way to work on any goal, especially main idea.  Students love games.  They really do!  You can just print and go and give students a pencil or marker.  You can also put these pages in dry erase sleeves or page protectors and use with a dry erase marker so you can use over and over.  These games can be used in centers, to gather baseline, or to collect data as a review.  You can print the different levels/types on different color paper to help you quickly grab the one you need!  Students can play against each other or against you.

main idea tic-tac-toe: main idea freebie for speech therapy

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