Daly (2009)

June 2, 2014

NOTE:  Scroll about 2/3 of the way down this page to read the summary.



Treatment Groups


SOURCE: Daly, A. (2009). Teaching prosody through Readers Theatre. Capstone Paper for Master of Arts at Hamline University, Saint Paul, MN.




Review: https://clinicalprosody.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/daly-2009/




DATE: June 1, 2014


ASSIGNED GRADE FOR OVERALL QUALITY: C- (The highest possible grade was C+ due to the design of the investigation.)


TAKE AWAY: This single group investigation revealed that a comprehension-based Readers Theatre intervention for 2nd graders who are English Language Learners can improve timing (phrasing), intonation, and stress (i.e., fluency) of oral reading.



1. What type of evidence was identified?

a. What was the type of evidence? (bold the appropriate design)

• Prospective, Single Group with Pre- and Post-Testing and

• Descriptive Research

• The investigator used a combined quantitative and qualitative (Action Research) approach.


b. What was the level of support associated with the type of evidence? Level = C+



2. Group membership determination:

a. If there were groups, were participants randomly assigned to groups?           

N/A, there was only one group.



3. Was administration of intervention status concealed?

a. from participants? No

b. from clinicians? No

c. from analyzers? No



4. Was the group adequately described? Yes

  1. How many participants were involved in the study?

• total # of participant:   6

• # of groups: 1

• # of participants in each group: 6

• List names of groups: NA, there was only one group.


b. The following variables were described:

• age: 7 – 8 years of age

• gender: 2m, 4f

• language: all English Language Learners (ELL); first 21% of the children in the district are ELL

• first language: Hmong (3); Spanish (3)

• SES: 52% of children at school were eligible for reduced/free lunch

• educational level of clients: all Ps in G2

• reading level: 3/6 Ps were reading below grade level; all Ps (including those who read at grade level) read word-by-word when orally reading.


c.   Were the groups similar before intervention began? Not Applicable


d. Were the communication problems adequately described?

• disorder type: (List) no disorder- all ELL; literacy problem 3/6 had below grade level, all had oral reading problems (fluency)

• functional level

– speaking and listening skills on a 1 (beginning) – 5 (ready to transition out of ELL classes) scale: 3 (1P), 4 (4P), 5 (1P)

– reading and writing skills on a 1 (beginning) – 5 scale (ready to transition out of ELL classes): 3 (4P), 4 (2P)

– reading level: Late G1 (2P); Early G2 (1P); Mid G2 (1P); Late G2 (2P)


• other (list)


5. Was membership in groups maintained throughout the study?

a. Did each the group maintain at least 80% of their original members? Yes

b. Were data from outliers removed from the study? No


6. Were the groups controlled acceptably? No, this was a single group study.



7. Were the outcomes measure appropriate and meaningful? Yes

a. The outcomes were

• OUTCOME #1: Improved ranking on timing rubric

• OUTCOME #2: Improved ranking on stress rubric

• OUTCOME #3: Improved ranking on intonation rubric

• OUTCOME #4: Positive P perception of the intervention (no pretest data provided)


b. All of the outcome measures were subjective.


c. None of the outcome measures were objective.



8. Were reliability measures provided?

a. Interobserver for analyzers? No. The investigator did not provide data but insured reliability by having a second, independent judge. For the rubrics, the judges came to a consensus on disagreements. Most scores on the rubric were within one point of one another. A second judge also reviewed the observations; the investigator did not describe how disagreements were handled.    


b. Intraobserver for analyzers? No


c. Treatment fidelity for clinicians? No. However, the investigator made about notes about routines, teaching, and learning (i.e., the observation data).  



9. What were the results of the statistical (inferential) testing?The investigator did not subject the data to inferential testing. The results which follow are solely from descriptive analyses.



PRE VS POST TREATMENT—The investigator provided 3 cycles of treatment. Before initiating treatment in a cycle, the investigator administered a pretest; after treatment for a cycle, the investigator administered a posttest.

– Pretest/Posttest comparisons found to be markedly improved:

• OUTCOME #1:Improved ranking on timing rubric— Scores for each cycle increased from pretest to posttest. Moreover, each pretest was higher than the previous pretest but lower than the previous posttest.

• OUTCOME #2:Improved ranking on stress rubric— Scores for each cycle increased from pretest to posttest. Moreover, each pretest was higher than the previous pretest but lower than the previous posttest.

• OUTCOME #3:Improved ranking on intonation rubric— Scores for each cycle increased from pretest to posttest. Moreover, each pretest was higher than the previous pretest but lower than the previous posttest.

• OUTCOME #4: Positive P perception of the intervention (no pretest data provided)—The Ps’ remarks about the treatment were positive.


b. What was the statistical test used to determine significance? Not Applicable


c. Were confidence interval (CI) provided? No



10. What is the clinical significance? Not provided.



11. Were maintenance data reported? No



12. Were generalization data reported?Yes.The investigator administered a “transfer assessment” following the completion of the 3 cycles. The transfer assessment involved a new script at the same reading level as the previous cycles. To avoid a “cold reading”, the group read the transfer script 2 times before the assessment. Overall, Ps’ transfer scores were higher than the first pretest but lower than the final posttest. Scores for the stress rubric were lower than the timing and intonation rubrics.









PURPOSE: To investigate the effectiveness of comprehension-focused Readers Theatre on the intonation, timing (phrasing), and stress of ELL second graders while oral reading.


POPULATION: English Language Learners (ELL), Literacy (fluency problems); Child


MODALITY TARGETED: production (for oral reading)


ELEMENTS/FUNCTIONS OF PROSODY TARGETED: intonation; timing (phrasing); stress


ELEMENTS OF PROSODY USED AS INTERVENTION: intonation; timing (phrasing); stress




DOSAGE: small group (7Ps—one P was not part of the investigation); 35 minute sessions; 4 weeks; 3 six session cycles


ADMINISTRATOR: English as a Second Language (ESL)Teacher


STIMULI: written scripts, diagrams, pictures, oral modeling by C, visual cues (e.g., hand signals, symbols on scripts)



TECHNIQUES: Readers Theatre (expressive oral reading or prosodic reading), repeated reading, comprehension instruction strategies, modeling; metalinguistics, feedback



• There were 3 cycles: timing, stress, intonation

• each cycle lasted 6 days

• each cycle was associated with a different script.

• each session began with a pretest and ended with a post test using the practice script

• following the Cycle 3 post test, there was a transfer (generalization) assessment in which Ps orally read a script that had not been practiced (although the group had read it aloud 2 times to avoid a cold reading).



• 5 minute opening—snack and interaction among group members. (They were a cohesive group prior to the Readers Theatre intervention.)

• Then C administered the activities described below.



• Day 1: Pretesting: the group read the script aloud 2 times and worked on difficult words. C then recorded each P individually reading the script.


• Day 2:

– C read aloud the script using expressive prosody (i.e., modeling).

– C then presented activities designed to improve the background knowledge associated with the theme of the script for the Cycle. (The investigator describes these activities starting on page 45.)

– The group read aloud the script (i.e., everyone in the group read all the parts.)

– C provided Ps with copies of the script and directed Ps to practice them at home each day.


• Day 3:

– C presented a brief lesson on the prosodic element of timing.

– C assessed Ps’ comprehension of the topic and clarified her presentation.

– C read the script 2 times: 1 time with an inappropriate timing element that was the focus of the cycle and 1 with an acceptable representation.

– Ps identified the preferred reading of the script

– The group identified the errors produced by C during the “inappropriate” reading.

– Ps and C marked the first 2 pages of scripts with symbols for timing (e.g., // for long pause, / for short pause in timing)

– C highlighted a different role for each P with Ps reading aloud their own parts from the script.

– Ps then exchanged scripts so that each P performed each role.

– If necessary, the group discussed meaning of lines and/or how to improve the timing of a line.


• Day 4:

– C presented a brief lesson on the prosodic element of stress.

– C wrote a line from the script on the board and read it aloud with appropriate stress.

– C directed the Ps to identify the loudest word and then she underlined the word with a thick line.

– C asked Ps to identify words that were “a little loud” but not as loud as the previous (full stressed) word. Then she underlined those words with thin lines.

– C asked Ps to identify words that were spoken softly and she did not underline them.

– C presented another line from the script and repeated the process

– C explained to the Ps that speakers emphasize words that they think are important and that they already did this when they spoke. C also explained that as actors the Ps needed to be sure they understood the scripts so they could emphasize the correct words.

– As a group, the Ps and the C read through the script identifying the level of stress for each work (thick line, thin line, no line).

– The Ps then read through the script several times. Each P took a different role, each time the script was read.

– At the end of the session, C assigned the roles to the Ps for the final performance. C provided Ps with highlighters that they took home to mark their lines in their homework script.

– C reminded Ps that good actors practice their lines many times and encouraged them to practice at home.


• Day 5:

– During the 2nd and 3rd cycles, the following was included. However, it was eliminated from Cycle 1. Rather, during Cycle 1, C reviewed stress and timing (phrasing) with the Ps.

• C sang the “Star Spangled Banner” using hand signals to signify rising or falling pitch.

• C explained to the Ps that in every day speech, pitch rises and falls, although not as much as for singing.

• C repeated a sentence she had produced at the beginning of the session, using hand signals to signify rising and falling pitches.

• C noted that actors decide to use rising and falling pitches based on their understanding of the lines in the script.

• C wrote a line from the script on the board and signified rising or falling pitch with symbols.

• C continued writing lines of the board. Each time, the group said the line slowly and a P drew lines indicating the proper intonation.

– During Cycle 3, C repeated sentences Ps spoke during snack time and linked the intonation pattern to a line in the script using hand signals to signify intonation patterns. C encouraged Ps to use the every day intonation patterns in their readings.

– Ps read aloud the script one time and then they read it with each P taking his/her part.

– C directed Ps to go into separate sections of the room and to practice reading aloud their own lines. C circulated among the Ps and provided corrective feedback.

– C then placed Ps in their respective places for the performance (Day 6) and the Ps read through their lines in turn.


• Day 6:

– Ps rehearsed the script before the performance.

– After the performance, P briefly debriefed.

– C administered the post test to P individually.



• Increase the number of days in a cycle to 7.

• Increase vocabulary work during comprehension instruction.

• Explicit attention to prosody (timing/phrasing, intonation, stress) is effective but it may be helpful to limit attention to a single feature per cycle.

• Cs might consider allowing a few weeks between each cycle to facilitate consolidation of gains.

• Modeling and visual cues (hand signal, written symbols) are useful in teaching about timing.

• One challenge associated with timing—For sentences that extended beyond a single line of script, some Ps tended to pause at the end of the line on the script. (C provided extra modeling and a reminder to pause only at slashes to deal with this issue.)

• Some of the students had trouble with stress, particularly function words.

• Visual cues for intonation were less successful than for stress and timing (phrasing). To deal with this. C adopted the music teacher’s strategy for signifying pitch in music. (See page 69.)



Gilbert (2008)

January 31, 2014



NOTE:  Scroll about 1/3 of the way down to read the summary of the interventions.


SOURCE: Gilbert, J. (2008).  Teaching pronunciation using the prosody pyramid. New York: Cambridge University Press

Click to access Gilbert-Teaching-Pronunciation.pdf


Reviewer(s):  pmh


Date:  1.29.14


Overall Assigned Grade:  F  (Highest grade based on type of evidence is F.)


Level of Evidence:  F = Expert Opinion


Take Away:  This booklet highlights the Prosody Pyramid and its associated treatment procedures which are presented in Gilbert’s book Clear Speech (2005). Prosody Pyramid procedures were designed for second language learners; nevertheless, they have potential to guide SLPs in treating adolescents and adults with prosodic problems and, perhaps, those with intelligibility issues. Data were not provided to support the procedures.



1.  Was there review of the literature supporting components of the intervention?  No


2.  Were the specific procedures/components of the intervention tied to the reviewed literature?  Yes, in several instances.


3.  Was the intervention based on clinically sound clinical procedures?  Yes


4.  Did the author(s) provide a rationale for components of the intervention?  Yes

5.  Description of outcome measures:


•  Outcome #1:  To use prosodic markers (pausing, falling terminal contour, phrasing, and syllable lengthening) to mark thought boundaries


•  Outcome #2:  To produce focus words (stress-sentence/phrase) within thought groups by manipulating rhythm, intonation,  and duration.


•  Outcome #3:  To stress the most appropriate syllable in multisyllable words.



6.  Was generalization addressed?  Yes. Outcomes, for the most part,  are concerned with achieving the targets in conversation.


7.  Was maintenance addressed?  No





NOTE:  The Prosody Pyramid is the basis for the interventions described in this section. The Prosody Pyramid approach focuses on rhythm/stress and intonation (or as the author labels it, melody) to improve pronunciation rather than focusing on individual speech sounds. Gilbert considers the thought group, which can range from a few words to a full sentence, to be the base of the Prosody Pyramid. Within each thought group, there is a single focus word that receives the most prominent stress. If the focus word contains more than one syllable, only one syllable can carry this primary stress. To insure intelligibility, this syllable must be clearly marked and produced.

     Gilbert is not a speech language pathologist and the booklet does not address clinical targets. I (pmh) have derived the interventions from the booklet, all errors are mine.



Description of Intervention #1—Marking thought boundaries.


TARGET:  To use prosodic markers (pausing, falling terminal contour, phrasing, and syllable lengthening) to mark thought boundaries.


TECHNIQUES:  listening, metalinguistics, reading aloud, drill/repetition, writing to dictation, imitation, gestural cues, choral speaking


STIMULI:  auditory, visual cues (read texts with and without visual cues such as pitch direction, lengthening cues), gestural cues


DOSAGE:  group work





•  Using phone numbers and math problems, C orally (i.e., no visual cues) presents different groupings of numbers using pitch changes and pauses to mark the group boundaries.  (Gilbert provides examples.)

–  At first, Ps only listen to different patterns.

–  Then Ps imitate the pauses and pitch changes

–  In pairs, one P reads the numbers and the other writes them down using the targeted groupings.


•  The above exercise should be repeated with short sentences.


•  Ps in groups should listen to short lectures with scripts and mark thought groups.


•  Ps in groups listen to recorded speech and in small groups mark the thought groups. They should develop a rationale for why they selected their groupings.


•  Ps in groups should mark dialogues for thought groups and read them to the class.


•  Ps should record themselves in a conversation with someone outside the class. Later they should transcribe the conversation and analyze the marking of thought groups.


•  P reads sentences aloud being careful to link words within the though group together  (e.g., “The bussis late” for “the bus is late.”)


•  Gilbert recommends using gestures to facilitate the production of unstressed/deemphasized words such as contraction.  For example, she recommends that C assumes the role of a musical conductor in a class exercise in which half of the class as a chorus says “cannot” (two beats) and the other half says ‘can’t” (one beat) numerous times. This can be repeated several times with different contractions.


•  Gilbert recommends using writing dictation to practice any target. The C should give Ps only two chances to transcribe and then transcriptions should be compared to the target.


•  Gilbert provides thought group rules in the appendix.






Description of Intervention #2— Focus words


TARGET:  To produce focus words (stress-sentence/phrase) within thought groups by manipulating rhythm, intonation, and duration.


TECHNIQUES:  metalinguistics; drill/repetition using carrier phrases, poetry, and chants; imitation; writing to dictation; choral speaking/singing; musical instruments; listening; reading aloud


STIMULI:  auditory, visual;


DOSAGE:  group work





•  P introduces the concepts of emphasis (for the focus word in the thought group) and de-emphasis (for other words in the thought group).


•  Cs practice producing emphasizing focus words and reducing non-focus words (particularly structure words).

–  C first repeats carrier phrase/template sentence at normal speaking rate several times.

–  C can vary loudness, visual cues (obscuring C’s face/mouth), voice quality (e.g., using a squeaky voice) to increase interest.

–  C directs Ps to imitate the carrier phrase/template sentence chorally several times.

–  C writes out carrier phrase/template sentence.

–  Ps break into small groups and continue the listening and producing exercises.

–  Initially, the carrier phrase/template sentence is short.  C gradually increases length and complexity to include more than a sentence.


•  C explains that sometimes structure words are emphasized. Ps listen to sentences with stressed structure words and discuss possible reasons for the stressing.


•  C works with Ps to analyze the carrier phrases/sentences and changes the models to emphasize and deemphasize words.


•  Hints for encouraging deemphasizing include:

– use of carrier phrase or template sentence (Where j’ah put the …..?)

– production of poetry or chants that contain reductions


•  Ps listen to C producing short sentences using pitch changes/intonation pattern to mark focus.  After listening to several repetitions of the same sentence and intonation pattern, Ps attempt to replicate the intonation using a kazoo.


•  In pairs, Ps read question-answer sentences to one another which have designated focus words marked by italics. One P reads the question the other reads the answer marking the appropriate focus word.


•  Gilbert recommends using writing dictation to practice any target. The C should give Ps only two chances to transcribe and then transcriptions should be compared to the target.


•  Gilbert provides focus rules in the appendix.





Description of Intervention #3— Stress-lexical  (Gilbert notes this also is important for sentence/phrase stress.)


TARGETS:  To stress the most appropriate syllable in multisyllable words.


TECHNIQUES: metalinguistics, listening, reading, drill/repetition, writing to dictation,


STIMULI:  auditory,  motor/kinesthetic cues, visual cues,


DOSAGE:  group





•  C explains the importance of the dictionary stress pattern of multisyllable words—that the stressed syllable will be the most important syllable when the word is the focus of the sentence/phrase. Clear production of that syllable should aid intelligibility.


•  C explains that loudness increases, increased vowel duration and clarity, as well as changes in pitch level and direction can be used to signal stress/emphasis.

•  C presents information about each of the above features (i.e., loudness, vowel duration and clarity, pitch level and direction) independently.

•  C explains the following about vowel duration:

–  it is the most important feature for detecting stress/emphasis in English


•  Ps practice listening for vowel duration contrasts (increased duration of stress syllables and decreased duration of unstressed syllables) in multisyllable words.


•  C provides Ps with strong, heavy rubber bands and word lists of multisyllable words in which the vowel of the stressed syllable is highlighted.  Ps place the rubber bands on their hands and stretch their hands apart as they produce the stressed syllable of the multisyllable word.


•  C repeats the above activity but uses different motor movements (e.g., raising hands or eyebrows, standing taller, etc.) In addition, C solicits vocabulary items from Ps.


•  C explains the following about vowel clarity:

–  speakers should focus on clearly articulating stressed syllables

–  Figure 4 differentiates stressed, unstressed, and schwa vowels.

–  the standard for the production of unstressed syllables can be relaxed since in conversation they tend to be less fully articulated. Specifically, speakers should focus on when they can use schwa in place of the fully articulated vowel in unstressed contexts.


•  To facilitate vowel reductions, C produces words and Ps mark vowels that the C reduces to a schwa.


•  C teaches vowel sound production by

–  the differentiating “alphabet” vowels (i.e., long vowels),  “relative” vowels (i.e., short vowels), and schwa. Gilbert provides hints and illustrations for teaching the different vowels

–  Gilbert presents exercises for teaching vowel sounds

–  Gilbert presents rules for decoding vowels from English writing

•  C explains the following about changes in pitch level and direction:

– speakers have their own pitch patterns; deviations from that pattern can signal stress/emphasis.

– pitch changes signal new/important information

– if P has learned to identify the lengthened syllable, noting pitch changes should be easier.


•  Gilbert recommends using writing dictation to practice any target. The C should give Ps only two chances to transcribe and then transcriptions should be compared to the target.