Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Second NCSHLA Spring Convention

For my regular readers, I do apologize for not posting on Monday like usual. The end of April and beginning of May is a crazy time this year. I have three weeks worth of kindergarten screenings (because we go to one school each week for either 1-2 days), EC meetings, IEPs (almost done with all of them!), and the state conference. I may look like a train wreck on May 12th, but my life will calm down considerably as the End of Grade testing fever picks up for everyone else.

The 2015 NCSHLA Spring Convention was another really good professional development experience. I love that it offers a good variety of topics without the overwhelming feeling that the national conferences can create. This year, I felt like the conference was much more geared towards the medical side to make up for last year being more school-centric.  

So I'm going to focus more on a few of the neat things I happened to see in the exhibit hall. (Please note that I am not being paid or otherwise compensated to talk about any of these things. I just thought they were cool.)

1) The Dolores One: Medical Speech-Language Pathologists will want to pay attention to this one. It's basically a machine that helps amplify a client's voice by being placed on the patient's neck near the vocal folds. This means that it doesn't interfere with respiratory care equipment. Yet, it still allows you to hear what the patient is saying. The demonstration with CPAP mask was really incredible. I love to see how technology and ingenuity can come together to solve very distressing problems.

2) Discovery Toys interactive books: Ahoy, Pirate Pete and Once Upon a Time

According to the vendor, these books have recently returned to print after a several year hiatus. I absolutely love the idea of letting students pick the direction of the story. It can be as silly or as normal as they want. Plus, the graphics just pop.
The only thing I didn't love about these books were the price tag. $19 was a little steep for something that I can see being damaged in overzealous argument between two or three competitive students. These are going on my "watch" list. 

3) Super Duper's Pirates and Pals Preposition card deck: I have the biggest weakness for pirate stuff. I have no idea why. I ran up to the display copy of these cards the minute I saw them. They would be really motivating for young pirate fans. 

4) Literacy Speaks!: I think I must have been living under a rock or in graduate school when this program came out. My favorite part of the kits are the little books that you can print out from the CD. However, it is one of the more pricey items I saw. I know that the cost of materials continues to grow problematic as more districts are having to cut funds. This one is probably just going into the "dream" files as I cannot imagine my district buying this over our testing materials.

And my secret to not ending up broke after visiting the booths at convention: 
Only bring enough money for food!

Monday, April 13, 2015

We're going bananas for multiple meaning words

The warmer weather has me thinking of tropical places and the Disney version of the "Day-O" song. My students are all focusing on plant and environmental themes this six weeks in science so I thought I would make a game-based activity that featured a fun animal. 

The layout of this game is pretty simple. Students pull out cards from the pile that will either have a word, a monkey (lose a turn or take another turn), or a banana (word challenge). Whoever has the biggest pile at the end of the game wins. 

When students get a banana card, they complete the pyramid chart for one of the words in their pile. I like to let my students pick the words unless their is a specific word that I know they need some additional practice with. They complete the pyramid by writing the two different meanings and drawing a picture for each. My older students (4-5th) also get to write a sentence for one of the meanings on the bottom of the paper.

Here is an example of what it might look like completed:

Grab your copy of the Great Ape Escape here!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Changing the routine

What do you do when you have students who get tired of your articulation drills? 

Turn it into something that resembles a game! In this case, I had to really sit down and ponder how to re-vamp the good old "S" slide (as we call it). The idea of using Chutes and Ladders didn't hit me until I pulled out my board game one day after school. I modified it to include some of the reminders that I use during my sessions as well as giving ample practice with our sound slide. 

So far, it has helped to break up the routine.

Grab your copy of Slides and Ladders for Lateral /s/ here.

Monday, March 30, 2015


We all have our failings. I would have to say that organizing my personal therapy materials is quite possibly the bane of my existence after four years of collecting various children's books, games, manipulatives, and Teachers Pay Teachers materials. Every year I try something new and eventually find something wrong with it. 

I recently decided to try my hand at re-organizing my Teachers Pay Teachers and various other educational site freebies after gaining the middle school. While I have all of these files saved to a flash drive, there is just something about having a hard copy in my reach that I cannot shake off. Poor trees are probably moaning in fear already. 

 I started out by buying a 4' Heavy Duty binder for my middle school files because I have the bad tendency to fill them to the brim. They're $12 on Amazon which is a fairly good price. I prefer to hunt them down in thrift stores, but I've only managed to find three in this size in the past couple of years.

I also recommend getting the smaller 1-2' binders to hold specific packets that will see heavy use. I can usually find these for $1-2 at thrift stores.

Page Protectors and Pocket Tab Dividers are also very near and dear to my heart. I know it's an additional expense that many people don't want to incur. I just like the extra glossy look.

So I guess it goes without saying that I would want to have binder covers that have a little bit of sparkle to them.

You can grab a copy of the binder covers here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Practice makes perfect

Most of my free time this past week was spent writing up response questions to news articles I've found for the middle school. However, I also had the opportunity to test out a new creation with them as well. 

"Daily" Questions gives me the opportunity to start each group off with a small writing task to work on capitalization, punctuation, and using complete sentences relating back to their daily lives. It takes about five minutes to complete the whole sheet. However, you don't have to do all four every time. I told my groups that they would have to answer at least two questions each time. 

You can grab your copy of my Daily Questions for Middle School here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Hunt: Middle School Resources

I'm a little late to the game, but the hunt for quality middle school resources is on! I've had pretty good luck so far with google search and am hoping to continue to find new things to add to my middle school binder.

Reading Comprehension & Written Response
  1. K12 Reader: Awesome worksheets that work for multiple goals. The best part is that they are all free!
  2. ReadWorks: Another fabulous and free website that offers reading comprehension passages.
  3. Student News Daily: News articles aimed at high school, but some of the shorter articles may interest middle school students too.
  4. Smithsonian Tween Tribune: News articles aimed at various grade levels. I've written up questions to go along with the news articles I select.
  5. Newsela: News articles aimed at various reading levels. I've written up questions to go along with the news articles I select.
  6. Time for Kids: Another great site for news articles. This one doesn't include lexile levels.
  7. Wordville: This has some interesting reading passages, but it is more difficult to save them.
  8. Mr. Nussbaum: Great site for reading passages on levels from 2nd-5th grades.
  9. TSL Books: Another website for free reading comprehension passages.
  10. Super Teacher Worksheets: This site has some great reading comprehension resources at various grade levels. They are even nice enough to offer some of these for free as samples of their work. I love their freebie activities and only wish that they would offer more!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Are you a Dino-Star?

Pronouns, pronouns, and more pronouns. Rawr! I'm up to my eyeballs in pronouns. I'm going to stomp my feet like a dinosaur and sing my pronoun song day to night. I'll learn my pronouns and you will too. Just follow me!

She is for girls (hands on head)
Her is for girls (hands on shoulders)
He is for boys (hands on hips)
His is for boys (hands on knees)

I think this may be one of the hardest skills for my younger students to grasp. There are very few days that go by without me trying to come up with yet another activity to  target this skill. One of the most successful tricks I've used recently is the little chant above. I think most of that has to do with adding gross motor movement into a task that is usually much more visual and/or auditorily based. We practice our chant, pull out our sorting mats, and then go to town with my drill cards.

Rawr! is a set of drill cards I created after I came up with the idea to have a stomping chant to help us practice our pronouns. Students have to fill in the blank with a pronoun (usually I give them a binary choice to start with) and place it on the sorting mat.
My personal favorites are the open-ended cards that they can sort either way depending on which cave-person needs more cards.

There is also a little bonus of an open-ended game that I call Dino-Star that can be used with whatever target you need. The goal of the game is to get the pink dinosaur card.

You can grab Rawr! here.