The American Continent: Discovery or Rediscovery?

  • October 14, 2005
  • Henriette Langdon

The September edition of ¿Qué Tal? focused on celebrations of Independence of several Latin American countries.

October is the month when we think about Columbus Day celebrated on the second Monday of October, when Christopher Columbus landed in new shores, which were in fact what America is today. This event took place on October 12, 1592, that is, 513 years ago, and we still make a note of it. Many businesses and schools are closed that day to celebrate this event. In the past few years, the dilemma of discovery vs. rediscovery of the new land has been put forth. Indeed, America did exit, but no one seemed aware of it, at least in Europe when Columbus was sent to explore new lands with support from Queen Elizabeth and King Ferdinand of Spain.

As I was trying to think of the many activities that the speech-language pathologist could do to meet various speech and language goals and enable children to dialogue about this event using different modalities, I came across various websites that include various ideas. Two seem outstanding. If you cannot click on the website directly you may just want to type it.

  1. includes a wealth of various activities from arts and crafts to topics of discussion as well as various books recommended for different grade levels.
  2. is an award winning website offering much detail about Columbus’ voyage itself. For example, there is information on the particular navigation instruments used, the different methods used to keep track of the trip as well as the name of the crew members of each one of the boats and their position.

New guidelines of IDEA 2004 indicate that students needing specialized educational services are not necessarily identified following the “traditional discrepancy vs. performance model.” Instead, educational needs of the students should be met through careful planning on the part of all school personnel that includes the teacher, special educator, other ancillary staff and which also should include the SLP. The key concept to remember is “Responsiveness to Intervention” (RTI). The focus is on specialized teaching strategies that could be implemented to enhance the learning of the student. Therefore, it is time for all of us to collaborate with teachers, special educators, and other school personnel to meet the educational needs of all students who are at risk as well as those who have been identified as having language-learning disabilities. If you can, please review the latest edition of Topics in Language Disorders Vol. 25 (June 2005) that focuses on Responsiveness to Intervention and the Speech-Language Pathologist.

I will discuss this topic at greater length in the November ¿QUE TAL? column. Following the RTI model can assist us all in working more effectively to meet the educational needs of all students. However, it may necessitate some adjustments.

Perhaps the term “Rediscovery” could be used instead of “ Discovery” in planning strategies to meet the educational needs of all students. Using this month’s theme we could approach our role in some new ways and follow some of the recommendations outlined below.

Recommendations for the Responsive SLP

I will list only five recommendations and I am sure there are so many more!!!

  1. Talk to the teachers of your students to find out which books and materials are used in the classroom to discuss the Discovery vs. Rediscovery theme.
  2. Visit your students’ classrooms to observe the teaching and learning process. Dialogue with teachers on how you could collaborate.
  3. Use the theme of Discovery and Rediscovery to set priorities in meeting speech and language goals for all students on your caseload during the month. For example, if your students have difficulty with comprehension, use a book on the current theme to go over the highlights of the topic and write those on the board. Then introduce the text by reviewing the organization of the book Ask/guide the students in summarizing the content and assist them in formulating predictions about what might be included in each section.
  4. Decorate your therapy room with posters and pictures related to the theme. Leave space to include students’ contributions delivered in the written or art form.
  5. Participate in discussions with school personnel to plan modifications for students at risk. Make a point of making a presentation of your role, skills, and responsibilities in your school during an upcoming staff meeting.

Please be sure to read the November ¿Qué Tal? column
IDEA 2004 Should Encourage all SLPs to Come Out of the Closet

December ¿Qué Tal? column
The A through Z about Bilingualism and Bilingual Education

As always, I do welcome your comments.

Henriette W. Langdon, Ed.D., F-CCC-SLP
Communicative Disorders & Sciences
College of Education
San José State University
San José, CA 95192-0079
408-924-4019 voice
408-924-3641 fax

Gracias – Thank you.

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