Using Non-fiction Texts in Speech and Language Therapy

Using non-fiction passages to address speech and language skills has been my saving grace lately!  Non-fiction passages are perfect for my mixed groups with older elementary, middle school, and high school students. I’m joining The Frenzied SLPs to bring you some products and tips from a few of your favorite SLPs. 
As some of you know, I mostly see middle school and high school students in the school system (I have a few younger kids at school and I see some younger kids in a private practice). It can be very difficult to engage these older students and keep them interested in activities and tasks you are working on in therapy! Last year I wrote a few nonfiction passages and brought them in for therapy...all of a sudden my 8th grade boys, who complained all the time about having speech and language services, wouldn’t leave my room. They (along with some of my high school boys) started begging me to bring more nonfiction passages. We would read the passages, learn important vocabulary, answer comprehension questions, talk about main ideas, and research related events and people. Their favorite nonfiction passages were about U.S. presidents. Another topic my kids are interested in are animals. This summer I worked hard to create a huge product (over 150 pages) for endangered animals. I added even more to this product than I had the others. Once it was close to ready, I took it with me to see some private was again a HUGE hit! Let me show you all the ways we use these fun nonfiction passages!!! Here is a little secret....I can use the same themes and often the same passages across all of my caseload with just a little tweaking (many of my students have a reading disability). 

Since my students are currently loving the endangered animal passages, I thought I would show you how we use them. Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom to find links to some of my favorite nonfiction resources!

This product includes 12 endangered animals. Each animal has activities to help us address reading comprehension, listening comprehension, vocabulary, context clues, research, informational text writing, main idea and details, summarizing, comparing and contrasting information, articulation and more! 
We use a Venn Diagram (included in the packet) to compare and contrast the animals we have studied. We use the information we obtain throughout the lesson to complete the diagram. 
We use a  K-W-L Chart to help anchor the information. We use this chart to determine what the students already know about each animal, what they want to know (so we can do further research), and to sum up the information they learned. 
We also love reading the "Did You Know? Fun Fact" sheet. We read over this sheet and the students determine what information they will share with their family when they get home. We love learning fun facts about each animal! 
We read the comprehension questions, then we read the passages and highlight the important information. For my students with more severe language and reading difficulties (or my younger students) we use the level 1 passage and questions. This passage is shorter than the level 2 passage and uses less complex language.  (Having two levels of passages is perfect if you see students across a range of grades and/or ability levels.) 
For my students with less severe language and reading difficulties (or my older students) we do the same thing with the Level 2 Passage. This passage is longer and more complex than the Level 1 passage and there is an additional page with comprehension questions related to the passage. 

We preview the vocabulary before we read, but we focus on the vocabulary more in-depth after we answer the comprehension questions. My students who need more direct vocabulary instruction we use the Level 1 vocabulary sheet. Level 1 includes definitions and a word bank for the students to write the correct word in the blank with supports. My students who are practicing context clues use the Level 2  vocabulary sheets. Level 2 includes words listed in context sentences. We underline or highlight the context clues and then write our best definition of the word. 
I gave myself an answer key! (I'm all about things to make my life easier!)

We use graphic organizers to help us determine the main idea and details, to organize thoughts for writing or comparing and contrasting information, and to summarize information. These are all skills that are extremely difficult for my students. 
If we have time, we complete a flip book for each animal. This helps my students to sum up the information they learned as well as research new/additional information. When we finish they can take the flip book home to share with their families. 

BONUS TIP: We also use these passages to work on articulation. We go through the passages/information and highlight or underline words that contain target sounds. My articulation students help me out by reading portions of the information aloud focusing on producing their speech sounds accurately. This makes having mixed groups a little easier on all of us and no one is jealous that "he/she gets to do that instead".’s fun, it’s engaging, and there is enough material to cover weeks of therapy sessions! Click the following link to grab these endangered animal passage. Non-Fiction Endangered Animal Passages

I hope you will think about using more nonfiction texts in your therapy sessions and I would love to help you with that! 
Here are several nonfiction passages you may want to check out: Non-Fiction American Symbol Passages, Non-Fiction Inventor Passages, Non-Fiction Black History Passages, Non-Fiction Bundle  

Now head back over to the linky party and see what other great products and tips are waiting for you!