Monday, February 10, 2014

Tracking Auditory and Self-Advocacy Development

The school year is about half over and assessment and progress monitoring are on everyone’s mind. A colleague and I were just recently in San Diego leading a training that included assessment, school teams are beginning to discuss upcoming spring IEP meetings, and progress reports and report cards are on the horizon. Recently, the itinerant teachers at Clarke’s east coast campuses were able to meet via Skype and the topic of discussion? Assessment. While formal assessments occur every three years for students on IEPs, ongoing monitoring and less formal assessments are necessary in order to track progress, look for gaps in knowledge and ensure that we continue to move our students forward. There are many charts and tools, but below are a few of my favorites for tracking auditory and self-advocacy skills. I hope you find them useful as well!

Functional Auditory Performance Indicators(FAPI)
The FAPI is an observation tool designed for use with young children and new listeners. A variety of listening conditions are assessed in the areas of sound awareness through linguistic auditory processing. I complete the FAPI with input from the entire team for several reasons. Completing the FAPI together draws the teacher’s attention to the variety of listening situations that I am observing regularly, which helps the teacher think critically about the development of auditory skills. There are always going to be aspects of the school day that I do not see, so input from the teacher helps provide a complete picture.  It is also a nice way to look at where the student is and where we want him or her to go, opening up conversations regarding inclusion of auditory skill development in the classroom.

Functional Listening Evaluation / Nonsense Sentences
Functional Listening Evaluations show how students with hearing loss perform under a variety of listening conditions. The link above from Hands & Voices summarizes the objectives, materials and procedures. Specific training is required in order to perform and report on Functional Listening Evaluations correctly. Your local audiologist may be able to guide you in getting trained. While Functional Listening Evaluations can be helpful in determining the potential benefit from consistent use of FM systems, hearing aids, and cochlear implants in the classroom, the evaluations require extensive training, practice, and consistent collaboration with an audiologist. When a full listening evaluation is not able to happen, the Nonsense Sentences can be used independently to help create self-awareness. An excerpt from a Nonsense Sentences write up may look something like this:

Cottage Acquisition Scales for Listening Language and Speech  (CASLLS)
The CASLLS are my favorite way of analyzing expressive language! Tracking language development from Pre-Verbal through Complex Sentences, the CASLLS can be used with students at a variety of language levels, and progress can be documented easily over time. I find it challenging to record language samples in writing, so I give my student materials, ask the student to tell me a story and then video tape while the student narrates. I’m then able to transcribe the language sample and complete the appropriate level CASLLS.

Karen Anderson
I’ve mentioned Karen Anderson’s book in a previous post, but this is the go-to source in our office for quick auditory and social scales.

Listening Inventory for Education- Revised (LIFE-R)
The LIFE-R is an inventory completed by the student with hearing loss. I use the LIFE-R to open discussions with my student around difficult listening situations and also share with classroom teachers during consult time. For students who are not able to read the questions, I read them aloud as well as the choices.

Placement and Readiness Checklist (PARC)
PARC is a checklist that can be used during conversations regarding the most appropriate placement for students with hearing loss when full-time mainstream placement is in question. It looks at a variety of classroom skills and situations and can support difficult placement discussions.

Minnesota Social Skills Checklist 
The Minnesota Social Skills Checklist can be used with students with hearing loss in preschool through high school and it looks at areas such as self-concept, friendship, and pragmatics. This is another tool that can be used over time to highlight areas of need as well as show progress.

A related tool is the Minnesota Compensatory Skills Checklist which assesses the students understanding of his hearing needs as well as advocacy and management of amplification.

Teacher (or Parents) Evaluation of Aural / Oral Performance of Children


The TEACH and PEACH are tools developed in Australia that I like to use with preschool children and early listeners. Teachers complete the TEACH and parents complete the PEACH. As with other scales, I like to work with the team when completing the TEACH and PEACH so that we can have conversations regarding our observations and goals for the student. One of my favorite aspects is that they are narrative which allows for open responses, there are no multiple choice questions so they can seem less judgmental.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Encouraging Class Participation

There are many reasons to encourage our students to participate in class. It helps the teacher get a better sense of what our students know and where they need clarification. It allows typically hearing peers to see the student with hearing loss as an equal contributor to the class. Participation empowers our students as they are heard and acknowledged. However, participation does not always come naturally; it is a skill that often must be taught. When I observe in a classroom, participation is one of the many things I look for. How does my student’s participation compare to that of his or her peers? Participation means knowing that a peer is speaking and turning to face that person; raising a hand to answer a question; responding verbally when called on; initiating interactions during small group work; responding to a comment made by a peer – the list is vast and varying.

For elementary students, the classroom teacher plays a leading role in helping all students learn how to participate.  Most classrooms have rules for participation around what good listeners do. Many have systems in place where the person speaking stands. One fourth-grade teacher I worked with required students to summarize what the previous person said before commenting to ensure that all students were listening to each other (e.g. “Jack said he thinks the answer is _______, but I think…”). Often, elementary classrooms have agreed upon visual cues that students can use to indicate that they share the same idea or perspective (such as a hand signal). When these systems are not in place naturally, we must work with teachers to set up good listening and participation expectations for the whole class.

At times, even with clear expectations, my students report reluctance to participate in class for a variety of reasons, ranging from fear of being wrong to feelings of discomfort regarding their speech quality. Knowing why a student is hesitant helps me strategize with the student. One of my third graders reported that she did not like to answer questions in class because she didn’t want to be wrong in front of her peers. Yet, when I checked in with her, she often had the correct information! In order to help my student overcome her fear of speaking in class, I devised a system with her classroom teacher. The teacher gave me a list of questions she was planning to ask during a period of instruction and my student had to choose one that she was comfortable answering. She was able to write in her response, knowing that while I observed, the teacher would call on her to answer that question. Having the answer written out in front of her, she knew that she could not be “wrong.” She was initially anxious, but after a few times using this method she began to relax and her participation gradually increased, even without previewing all the questions.

Another elementary student had the opposite problem. Wanting so desperately to appear knowledgeable in front of his peers, he raised his hand to answer every question, called out responses, and went on tangents giving far more information than was necessary to answer the question. The frustration was noticeable as his peers rolled their eyes or groaned every time his hand went up. My student and I spent time observing together, paying attention to how other students responded to questions and shared information. Working with his teacher, we set up a system where he had three marbles in his desk, which equaled three participation turns during an instructional period.  Each time he answered a question or made a comment, he had to give a marble to his teacher. Knowing he could only answer three questions, this helped my student self-regulate and make contributions that were more thoughtful and meaningful. It also gave others a chance to contribute. He no longer needs the marble system and his contributions are appreciated by his peers rather than dreaded.

With my older students, I share my observation notes and we are able to have candid conversations about what I’ve observed, set goals and strategize to make participation more meaningful. For one student, this initially meant tallying how many times she turned to look at a peer who was speaking. Once she mastered that skill and could articulate the importance, she commented that she often missed what a soft-spoken boy said, realizing that she was missing his answers to questions as well as information he contributed to the discussion. She later implemented the communication repair strategies we practiced together (e.g. “I heard you say_____but missed the last part.”). Now, this student is working on commenting on what her peers say, rather than just focusing on answering her teacher’s questions. She reports that she is feeling more connected to her peers, participating in the debates and discussions that happen in class rather than being an observer.

For high school students, support with participation may look different for each student. One student brings me oral presentations so that we can practice together and write in words phonetically to build her confidence when presenting. Another student was placed in a history class that involved many group projects. Together, we outlined her individual strengths as a group member (note taking, organization of ideas, layout and artistic design of visual supports, oral presentation) as well as areas of weakness and skills she should look for in a partner (written syntax, grammar, transitions between topics).  Her teacher reported that she handled group projects in a surprisingly mature manner and showed leadership skills that she had not demonstrated previously.

Our individual time with students is important, but classroom time must be meaningful as well. I strive to make sure my students are “heard” in the classroom just as much as their typically hearing peers. What helpful strategies have you seen related to class participation?