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Research into Practice 2

Summary and Review of: Wait…What??? Guiding Intervention Principles for Students With

Verbal Working Memory Limitations By Bonnie D. Singera and Anthony S. Bashirb

This article focused primarily on students with specific language impairments (SLI) and

their verbal memory. They began their research to determine the way the verbal memory worked

for theses students the best interventions in place for poor verbal memory, to ultimately create

the best intervention. To sum up their question: what are the best intervention strategies in place

for verbal memory and how can they be all inclusive in one?

The first of two strategies they found was in research that was done. They cited a study

that was done with three groups of children with SLI. The controlled group received traditional

language therapy over the course of five weeks. Over these 5 weeks, another group were taught

rehearsal strategies and the last was taught rehearsal/visualization strategies. After those five

weeks, the experimental groups were performing better than the controlled group. However, after

8 months, testing was done again and only the group that received rehearsal/visualization

strategies teaching were maintaining improved performance. This brought to the researchers’

attention that students who struggled with verbal memory needed to include visuals. However,

more information on who made up the groups or how testing was done is not included and makes

the argument less valid.

This step brought them to investigating another strategy, the usefulness of graphic

organizers. They found that students with verbal memory issues were performing better when

using graphic organizers. They tested advanced organizers as well, but found that their lack of

visuals and showing connections was not as effective. They learned about other’s research and
found that they are working on finding proof that student designed organizers, instead of the pre-

determined organizers, are more effective.

Their evidence brought them to five main principles which were the format for their

article. They discussed that these students cannot have their brain manipulated, developed

efficiency with memory is effective and the importance of collaboration. The last two were tied

to the strategies, verbal memory can be enhanced with visuals and the need to structuring

linguistic information. They used these five principles to pose what they found to be most

important for students with SLI and how it best to help them, answering their initial question.

While Eli does not have an SLI, the reason I chose to read this article was because when

working on math with Eli, one of the biggest challenges I have is her verbal memory. We could

talk about a number multiple times and she wouldn’t be able to tell me the number if I asked her

moments later. When we do our intervention, she counts out blocks and put them into stacks. She

physically counted to the number that I told her and stacked them. Then I ask her how many are

in the stack and she will say she doesn’t know and count them again. This happened every time

we wanted to use a stack number for part of the intervention. I wanted a strategy to combat this.

From this article, I came to the understanding that we needed to make it visual instead of

her just remembering the number. This will help her recall the number and be able to use it in the

intervention more effectively and efficiently. We would not be focusing on memory, but instead

it would be on finishing our intervention activity. My plan for this, aside from having the blocks

visually there to show the value of the number, was to provide paper for her to write the number

down next to the stack of blocks.

The first time this was implemented was highly effective. Eli never counted a stack of

blocks a second time and when I pointed to the stack, she could tell me the number instantly.
There was some work needed on reminding her what the numbers should be written like but they

were identifiable for her. We were able to get through the intervention of adding two stacks of

blocks together with continuous counting. Instead of only getting through two or three problems,

we got through 4 or 5. It worked so well that the second time we did the intervention this way,

we were able to write the equations for each of the problems and have it make sense to Eli.

The other benefit of doing it this way was that Eli enjoyed the activity more. We would

point to the stack of blocks and say the number, then another and so on, really quickly as a kind

of game and she was laughing throughout it. Sometimes I noticed if we had repeated a stack of

blocks multiple times, she knew what number to tell me depending on where I was pointing, and

not by looking the number. This was a great breakthrough. The intervention as a whole was less

frustrating for me, and less frustrating for Eli. Her attitude towards doing math improved.

I feel that using visual elements to help a student learn despite struggling with memory is

very useful. Had we moved this strategy into other aspects of our interventions, I think we could

have done a lot of good. For more advanced grade or work, I can see graphic organizers helping

in a more sophisticated way. But overall, I think the article had a lot of good to say about helping

students who struggle with verbal memory. They are able to learn better without having to

process all information spoken to them and remember it. They have a way to visualize it and

look back to the spoken words. I hope to continue to use this as I build my career.

Reference

Singer, Bonnie D, and Anthony S Bashir. “Wait. . . What??? Guiding Intervention Principles for Students

With Verbal Working Memory Limitations.” Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools,

vol. 48, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 449–462., doi: 10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0101.