Susan Ham

Speech-Language Pathologist, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board


Educational Practices for the Foundations of Literacy

Did you know Speech-Language Pathologists working in educational settings are involved with Literacy? SLPs have an indepth knowledge of oral language, and that leads to an understanding of the foundations of literacy development. At HWDSB we have developed and conducted efficacy research on classroom wide programs (Making It KLLIC – Kindergarten Language and Literacy in the Classroom and Sound Bites), assessment materials for early literacy (Guides to Experimental and Early Literacy), and intervention programs for struggling readers and writers (Class Act Phonological Awareness and START – Structured Activities for Reading Together). We also provide inservices to schools interested in improving their literacy scores, and most recently to our newly formed Reading Specialists group. This session will provide a review of research literature regarding the foundational skills needed for literacy, and share the research and essential skills found in the programs developed at HWDSB.


Susan D. Ham, M.H.Sc. is a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Hamilton-Wentworth Board of Education. She currently holds a special assignment called ‘Literacy Lead’. Susan has been interested in the relationship between oral language development and learning to read and write for most of her 30 year career, and has spent the last 18 years of her career focusing on this subject with special emphasis on helping struggling readers and writers. Some of the programs she has researched and developed for HWDSB are used in other boards across the province, and even in other provinces. Susan has been invited to share her knowledge and passion for reading and writing research across HWDSB staff, other school boards, and provincial conferences.