Why Use SWAP with your students?
The Chilliwack Speech and Language Department is introducing a new way for educators to target Language Content difficulties- The “SWAP”. SWAP stands for “Student Word Analysis and Practice”. The format of the SWAP borrows heavily from the now familiar format of the SNAP, that has been successfully introduced by the district for teaching and assessing Numeracy skills since September 2017. We envision the SNAP template to be easily “swapped out” for a Language and Literacy template.
The SWAP came about after we had observed the SNAP in classrooms and thought it would lend itself to a Language and Literacy focus. Many students have limited Language Content skills (weak vocabulary, disorganized word storage and imprecise word usage). Students rely on solid Language Content skills to communicate effectively, derive meaning when they read and write rich text.
Because low Language Content skills are commonly identified in our students through SLP assessments, we endeavored to create a learning tool that could target many Language Content skills at once, in an integrated and meaningful exercise.
We hope that because of previous introduction to the SNAP, educators can easily incorporate the “SWAP” into classroom routines, much like its predecessor. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive from classroom teachers, Speech-Language Assistants and their students.
Language Content is the meaning attached to spoken and written words. You may have heard other terms that mean the same as Language Content such as: Language Processing skills, Semantics and/or Meaning. It is the "meat and potatoes" of communication. It is crucial that Language Content is organized in the brain so that words can be stored correctly to help with efficient word retrieval. Language Content is targeted by working on a hierarchy of specific skills:
* Stating Functions
As students advance in school, academic demands increase and more instruction occurs primarily through an auditory modality and written text. Students need to develop skills to attach meaning to spoken and written material.
Students with difficulties in Language Content often show the following characteristics:
* Answers with “I don’t know”
* May speak clearly and talk a lot, but it takes work from the listener to understand their message.
* Uses a lot of vague language (e.g., “this, it, stuff”)
* Uses lots of gestures
* Difficulty with word-retrieval
* Can often decode at a higher level than they understand
Language Content can be differentiated from Language Structure, which is commonly referred to as “grammar.”
SWAP Connections to English Language Arts Curriculum
Playing with language helps us discover how language works.
Language and story can be a source of creativity and joy.
Use sources of information and prior knowledge to make meaning.
Explore foundational concepts of print, oral, and visual texts.
Exchange ideas and perspectives to build shared understanding.
Identify, organize, and present ideas in a variety of forms.
Use developmentally appropriate reading, listening, and viewing strategies to make meaning.
ADMINISTERING THE SWAP
The SWAP was designed for use in a multitude of settings: classroom wide, small group and 1:1 that correspond to the RTI Tiers of Intervention. In other words, the SWAP can be used as a teacher-led class activity of for all class members individually (TIER 1); small group targeting language and/or literacy goals (Tier 2); or by a specialist teacher for direct intervention (Tier 3: SLP, SLA, ESL/ESD teacher, LA teacher etc).
The target word should be chosen because of it's relevance to the group or individual and consistent with the curricular content of the grade. Target word sources may include: science unit vocabulary, spelling test words, teacher-read book, novel study book, classroom seasonal theme etc.
K-1 Level: whole class or small group activity
Teacher choses a meaningful target word (noun) and writes it in the middle square. Sound out the word as you print each letter. Alternatively, especially for younger, pre-literate students, you could use a colour photo or drawing of the target word with the printed word.
With younger children, the teacher may need to model heavily to guide discussions- especially with the higher level Language Content skills (ie. Similarities and Differences). Group/small group rather than individual practice is recommended.
*Please note that even though a student may be in an older grade, they may still benefit from a K/1 Level exercise.
Grade 2+ Level: Class, small group or individual activity. Teacher choses or gives guidance for choice of target word (concrete noun).
The following chart shows the order of fields to flow through using the example "horse" as the target word.
Key words in template
Expected Age of Mastery
|The picture must show at least one defining characteristic of the word (shape, colour, detail etc.)||horse||30-36 months|
|Functions||“do”||action word that is associated with the target word||You ride it||36-42 months|
|Associations||“Go”/”goes together”||commonly associated word and why|
Both farm animals
|Categorization||“group”||could have broad specificity (i.e.. animal) and narrow specificity (i.e. amphibian) depending on class experience and expectations|
(Starts 42 months)
|Similarities and Differences|
The feature of “same” should involve a primary feature of shared category. For example, a horse and a cow both have teeth, but this is not a meaningful similarity.
The feature of “different” should involve a meaningful distinguishing difference.
Horse and cow- both live in a field
Horse and cow- people ride on horses
(starts at 5 years)
|Adjectives||“describe”||visibly evident characteristics (colour, texture, size) and encourage students to think about properties that can’t be seen (smell, weight, feeling, taste etc.)||Fast, big, agile||Preschool onward|
|Sentence||“sentence”||a grade appropriate sentence (orally in younger grades and with expected written conventions in older grades) that reflect understanding of the word.||The horse is eating hay.||Preschool onward|
|Alliteration||“same sound”||The word must start with the same sound (not letter) as the target word. For younger grades, a field of 2-4 words could be offered.||Happy, hop, hill||Preschool|
|Rhyming||“rhyme”||The word must have the same number of syllables and end Vowel+Consonant sound combination. For younger grades, a field of 2-4 words could be offered.||course||Preschool|