Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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

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