Sunday, February 19, 2017


As my Facebook followers have seen, I have been battling it out with a nasty ear infection for the past week. It is an interesting experience as an adult, particularly as an SLP. The pain was excruciating. Luckily, I already had an appointment to be checked for strep so I was put on antibotics within 3 hours of it flaring up. (My poor husband has had strep for the past week.) It really makes me wonder about the children we catch during mass hearing screenings that have had an infection for months without anyone knowing. Not being able to hear out of my left ear is about to drive me bonkers! 

In other news, I wanted to share my newest therapy tool that I created after watching the SLP Institute. They had a course about sensory bins and it reminded me of how much my students enjoy using my Mr. Potato Head bin. I found a dinosaur play set over the weekend at Mighty Dollar and couldn't resist. The total cost for the bin was about $3 including tax. I'm going to hunt for some superhero figurines, particularly Batman, and make another one before this school year is over. 

You can target so many goals with these bins and it barely takes any effort at all to make them. I will be using this one for prepositions mostly.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thoughts on Medbridge

Recently, Medbridge ran a sale on their subscription price in honor of their birthday. I decided that I would sign up since it was a little over half-price off (around $200). I wanted to share my thoughts on the site now that I have had the chance to take several different CEU courses. 

1. Ease of navigation- I love the layout of the website. I can bookmark courses that sound interesting and go to this list whenever I'm ready to start a new course. I can also use my dashboard to view classes that I'm currently taking, review course videos from ones I've finished, and download certificates. 

2. Speakers- Medbridge does a very good job of finding clinicians who have tons of experience in their specific topic. They focus on telling you what has worked in their practices, what current research says, and often include video models of strategies with real clients. I love being able to see these video samples because most of the free courses I've taken often don't have enough time to include these or only show samples without much explanation. The fluency assessment course in particular was very helpful to me as I've recently had to do my first true fluency assessment since taking my fluency course back in graduate school. I went into it feeling much more confident because of how much practice with speech samples was embedded into that particular course. 

3. Course design- I have mostly focused on taking multi-hour course series so far since enrolling. The longest was a 7 hour course on dysphagia and the shortest so far was a 3 hour series on social language. I can pause the courses at any point and return to them without consequence. Every course that I've taken has video segments lasting as little as 10 minutes and as long as 40 minutes before a 3-4 question quiz. The quizzes add up at the end to give you an overall course score. I like the way it is broken up into short videos and quizzes rather than one huge lecture and huge quiz. It makes me feel more successful, especially since I typically do better with on site workshops. 

Overall, I can say that I'm glad that I decided to sign up for this program as the courses are all very well designed and executed. I feel like I've learned so much in the brief time that I've been a member and it is definitely improving my clinical skills. The biggest downside to me is that it is heavily focused on the medical side of speech. This is what I wanted the subscription for, but I think does a better job of being well-rounded. They are clearly making an effort to include topics such as fluency and social language skills. I also think that the price is hard to pay when they don't have a sale going on. I would not pay $425 for a subscription. It's just too expensive in comparison to $99. (This is especially true when you already have your 30 CEUs completed.) 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Building those clinical skills

One thing that happens when you begin the process of trying to expand your scope of knowledge after 6 years, is that you spend a bunch of time hunting down high quality CEUs. I wanted to share some free courses that I am currently in the process of enjoying:

1. ASHA's monthly case study- The topics vary each month and the majority have been extremely interesting. 
2. Presence Learning- They are having a winter CEU event geared towards older students. I greatly enjoyed this past summer's courses and have used much of the information that I learned. 
3. DynaVox and Mayer Johnson- If you have an interest in AAC, I have found these to be a great way to start building up those clinical skills. Just be warned that some of the classes do not count for ASHA credit. I've volunteered to be the second SLP on my district's fledgling AAC team.
4. Leaders Project- This site is associated with Columbia University and it is one of my favorite suggestions to other clinicians that I meet. 
4. Passy-Muir- These all relate to tracheotomies. I have found that they are also a good way to review anatomy as well. 
5. Voice and Swallowing Clinic Lecture Series- Again, these are geared more towards the medical side but are a great way of keeping those clinical skills. 
5. Yes, I know that this is a site that you have to pay a subscription for but they do have some special offers. I was able to sign up and take one course for free. I am joining their fan club and getting a membership after experiencing this course. If you don't like it, hey, at least you got one free credit hour from them. 

I also have a list of suggestions from others to take if you are trying to do PRN:
1. Medbridge. This is another subscription site. It is more costly, but you can access one "chapter" for free. I was specifically told to look at Angela Mansolillo's 7 hour training.
2. Northern Speech Services. NES offers a good selection of courses, but it can easily add up to a big expense on a limited budget. 
3. Shadowing in a facility. I haven't quite figured out how to accomplish this one yet. I know there's the Expand Your Scope group that is all about getting these experiences, but I live in a fairly rural area so my options are limited. 

May I also add that NCSHLA will have Dr. Joseph Duffy coming to our convention this year! One of my favorite professors constantly talked about him in our classes. I am really looking forward to attending one of his sessions. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Mid-Year Blues....

I saw this picture on facebook today and thought that it was poetic justice. I had to share it.

I've never really had a bad case of the mid-year blues before. I've had plenty of hectic Easters/springs so that is something that I know to expect. I'm not quite sure why this year has been so different. Perhaps it is because we've had such an overrun of referrals before that we normally don't get until March or all the technical difficulties I've had recently with my work computer....(I now know that I have the oldest laptop in the district and they don't make parts for it anymore). It could also be because of all the different health problems my grandmother has run into since the summer. I've just started a crash course lesson in high blood pressure and vertigo that I pray will get better with Physical Therapy.

I've been trying to find an outlet for all of the stress that I'm feeling. My wonderful husband actually helped me come up with the only one that seems to work....Sweatin' with the Oldies. I know it's terribly dated and silly, but Richard Simmons was definitely on to something with his over the top videos. It actually makes me want to get up and exercise. His facial expressions alone are worth watching even if you don't do the actual exercises.

The other outlet that I'm using is professional development. I love to learn and find new things to try with my students. I recently watched the SLP Summit videos and found the one on Sensory Bins to be really good. It's something that I've known about and briefly tried with Mr. Potato Head pieces. I think it's time to revisit this tool and give it more of a chance with my kindergarten groups. I am also starting to read research articles related to adult therapy as I don't want to lose those clinical skills. Even though I plan to work in the schools for a long time to come, I am thinking about trying to get a PRN job this summer at a nursing home since I want to get a certificate in Assistive Technology. I've asked about getting some help through work, but I'm pretty sure all of the lovely state budget cuts have killed what help we used to get for this kind of training. We shall see how it goes. I was one of the few in my graduate program to miss out on a skilled nursing facility placement and I don't know much about what to expect.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Social Thinking and Inclusion Part 2

I posted back in October about the Social Thinking lessons I used with the "You're a Social Detective" book. I thought it might be helpful to post about what I've used so far with the Superflex series.

We are slowly working our way through "Superflex takes on Rock Brain and the Unthinkables" and the teaching manual.

Starting Out:
First, I decided to add some additional lessons on our "Smart Guess Tools" because most of the classes really struggled to provide much information in each section. I modeled it for them using their ideas and explained that all of the writing I did were things that they told me. We watched the majority of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! For students who don't celebrate Halloween, I picked You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown.  I picked these videos because the cartoon drawings force the students to pay more attention to the characters than some of the Pixar.

The first two actual Superflex lessons consisted of reading the book to the class using the wonderful document cameras. We talked about things that we saw. We used the handouts in the manual to talk about things that are flexible/unflexible thinking. I also gave each student a mini-poster of Rock Brain for their notebooks.

Rock Brain Videos:
Smart Guess Handout (scroll to the end section for the chart with the smart guess tools). They complete this diagram for each video clip that I show them.
1. I think the Pixar Glued video is pretty self-explanatory.

Brain Function:
If you can get a copy of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, I would start with this book as it talks about the different areas of the brain and their roles.

1. I show the first 5 or so minutes of Bill Nye the Science Guy's brain episode. The kids seem to enjoy it and I like the different little segments.

After watching this video, I used the smartboard to talk about the brain's functions in three different categories: physical movement, social smarts, and school smarts. I make it a point to tell them that some jobs can be in more than one of these categories.

2. Opening Scene of Inside Out- This way we can briefly talk about our memory and emotions

We then create a giant poster of the brain and list some of the functions that fall into each of the three categories that we learned about the session before. (I'll try to upload some photos of these soon.)

Superflexible Strategies:
For the next set of lessons, I used the cartoons in the Appendix of the teaching manual. These depict the 6 Superflexible Strategies that defeat Rock Brain. I have the students help me re-write these strategies in their own words so that they have a copy in their notebooks. We are now talking about how the characters in the videos could have used these strategies.

1. Dug's Special Mission- Mean Jean & Rock Brain
2. Bugs Bunny: Chessmaster- Mean Jean, Rock Brain, Destroyer of Fun
3. Stuck on an Escalator- Size of the Problem, Rock Brain.
4. Taking Turns Speaking- Staying on Topic/taking turns, Rock Brain
5. Making Connected Comments- Staying on Topic/taking turns, Rock Brain, & Topictwistmister
6. Joining a Conversation Unexpected and Joining a Conversation Expected- Mean Jean, Topic twistmister, Blurt Out Blue, Collider
7. Starting an Individual Conversation Unexpected and Starting an Individual Conversation Expected- Rock Brain, Mean Jean
8. Swamp Talk with Shrek and Donkey: Interrupting Donkey and Swamp Talk with Shrek and Donkey: Sorry Not Sorry- Blurt Out Blue, Collider, Glassman, Mean Jean, Size of the Problem, and Interrupting
9. The Full Meltdown- Glassman, Mean Jean, Rock Brain, Size of the Problem

Review Practice Videos
1. Back to School Bus Safety- Using smart guess tools/making predictions and identifying Unthinkables
2. Fast Food- Using smart guess tools and identifying Unthinkables

Extra Videos that Might Be Helpful

1. Two-way Conversations: Asking Open Ended Questions
2. Appropriate Two-way Conversations
3. Two-way Conversations- Don't Be a Broken Record
4. Don't Be a Conversation Hog
5. Two-way Conversations- Volume Control

Think before you speak
1. Social Skills video- Think it, don't say it

Monday, December 12, 2016

Multiple Meaning Words with a Twist

I guess the only thing consistent about my blogging right now is my inconsistency. Life is never dull in my neck of the woods. I have several family issues going on right now and I've found it easier to deal with if I leave speech at the doors of my school every day. It's become all the more important after a recent hike in caseload numbers that have pushed me above the state cap. (NC has a caseload cap of 50.) 

While I haven't made too many materials lately, I thought that this one is just too good not to share for those of you with older students. I made this for my fifth grade groups as it's a pretty quick game that I can take into their classrooms. 

Multiple Meaning Word KaBoom!

If you haven't run across any teachers in your school using this, you are likely to start a new trend at your school. KaBoom is a great game that I saw teachers using in their centers. You can make a KaBoom game for pretty much anything you might need. The best part is that the game NEVER ends.

How to Play Kaboom!
1.  First student pulls out a card.
2.  The student tells you an answer. If their answer is correct, they get to keep the card.  If they answer it incorrectly, the card must go back in the cup.
3.  The students continue around the table, selecting one card at a time and answering their question.
4.  Any student who pulls a KABOOM! card has to place all of the cards they have accumulated back into the cup, leaving them with zero.

5.  This game NEVER ENDS because eventually someone will get a Kaboom! and their cards will go back into the cup to keep the game going.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Social Thinking and Inclusion

Sick days are never fun, but they are terribly bad when you have a restless brain. So I thought I would share a little bit of what I'm doing in four classrooms. Co-Teaching Time! (Yes, I am crazy. I've never co-taught before and somehow I'm now doing it in four classrooms.)

I'm using the Social Thinking Curriculum to address multiple goals in the classroom. How? I co-teach during writing blocks. Every day I go into the classroom, I incorporate a writing task into what we are learning about with the books. We're just wrapping up the Social Detective portion of the lessons.

Writing Targets:
What are your smarts? (I passed out a little brain diagram that I traced from the book for this)
What is something expected that you've done recently? How did the person/people around you react?
What is something unexpected that you've done? How could you change it into something expected?
What is something you want people to use their social smarts to know about you?

Social Detective print outs for Notebooks
1. Social Detective Vocabulary
2. Expected vs. Unexpected Handout

Video Activities for writing
1. Smart Guess Handout (scroll to the end section for the chart with the smart guess tools). They complete this diagram for each video clip that I show them.
1. For the Birds
2. Mike's New Car
3. Toy Story Toon- Small Fry
4. Air Mater

Once we finish looking at the video clips with our smart guess tools, it will be time to jump into the Superflex series. I've got a few things in mind already to go along with the main program....

SuperFlex print outs for Notebooks
I'm a Flexible Thinker

1. Social Detective Scavenger Hunt

1. Group Plan vs. Own Plan
2. Talking vs. Thinking Bubbles