Students from diverse groups are often considered at risk and disproportionally represented in special education. Many at-risk students enter Kindergarten without the benefit of language-rich environments at home or through quality preschool participation, experiences further impacted by pandemic closures and shortages. P.L.A.Y. groups are a collaboration between Speech-language Pathologists and teachers to lift up language and literacy skills in young students. Program features add another component to the Multi-tiered Systems of Support model including universal language screening, progress monitoring, and language-literacy skill development. Implementation of P.LA.Y. groups provides an opportunity to address language deficits at an early age, give teachers access to additional literacy interventions, and lift up reading skills to build future success. Participants will receive current implementation outcomes, strategies, and opportunities for hands-on practice of sample activities.
Malinda Pennington has over 25 years of experience working with learners with autism and other special needs from elementary to high school, in settings from self-contained to full inclusion. She has shared her expertise nationally and internationally via consultations, training, lectures, and professional development activities. Her doctoral work focused on the experiences of beginning teachers who received professional development regarding students with autism in general education classrooms. Dr. Pennington’s continued research interests include methods to better prepare general and special educators to meet the needs of students with autism and other developmental disabilities in inclusive settings.