Monday, July 30, 2012

Pinterest project

Pinterest is full of wonderful ideas if you are someone who enjoys making therapy materials. I'm not the best at crafty creations, but I was inspired by a photo that one of my coworkers recently posted. It's a Guided reading beach ball by Carson-Dellosa. 

Now, I am NOT going to pay $7 plus shipping for two beach balls. I would rather put that money towards a Super Duper purchase. However, I loved the basic concept of using beach balls to make reading more fun in therapy. Dollar Tree to the rescue! 

1-2 Dollar Tree Beach Balls (you may also be able to find these at Target's Dollar Spot)
1 Fine Tip Sharpie Marker
1 Flat Surface
1 List of questions

I like the questions that are featured on the commercial beach balls. I typically ask my students what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. I also ask them about the setting, characters, and main problem. 

Write your questions on the beach balls using a permanent marker. I prefer Sharpies, but I'm sure there are other brands of markers out there that you could use. A flat surface as well as a ruler will help you write evenly.

I can see this eventually morphing into a project for articulation and social skills as it is one of the easier projects I've seen. For some other cute ideas on how to use a beach ball in therapy, check out this post on Speech Room News.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of which she went learning

NC DPI's Summer Institute in brief review by a slightly worn-out, wishful thinking, and sleepy SLP.

See-the-Sound Visual Phonics- 2 days of awesomeness. I don't know ASL so my hand was very sore from all the repetitive practice of the phonics signs. However, I think this will be great to try with my students who struggle with reading, hearing impairments (only have 1 at the moment), and possibly nonverbal ones too. I love that the hand signs are designed to imitate the shape of your mouth when you utter a specific phoneme. It's something that can even be used in articulation therapy to help students think about the way they are shaping their mouth, which is a great addition to my fondness for sound  names/puppets. If you get the opportunity to take this course, I highly suggest taking one offered by their national trainer. She's an SLP and is really great at explaining all the different uses it has for therapy.

Letterland (Kindergarten)- 1 day of wondering what I signed up for....I guess the dreaded 2nd scenario (aka the vortex of confusion) had to hit sometime during the week. Letterland did not live up to my expectations. It felt like I was trapped in a giant infomercial where price tags and "non-essential purchases" kept hitting me over the head with a huge price wand. The characters and gestures are cute. I can see how it easily attracts attention and motivates the kids. However, I don't feel like it's very practical to me as an SLP unless it's used during a push-in session. The regular education teachers in my district don't use this program currently so my guess is that I won't be able to have that experience any time soon. Oh well....maybe I will go to love it, eventually?

Social Skills Across the Lifespans- 1 day of interesting. Social skills are probably one of my weakest areas as an SLP (after behavior) so this class was the one I really wanted to take this summer. It was a great decision. The SLPs leading the session gave great information about assessment and intervention. They even talked about relating it to Common Core! I am hoping that I can use some of their ideas in therapy this year with one of my students.
     One great resource that I learned about is Social Thinking! and Michelle Garcia Winner. There's something called a "double interview" that you can do as part of dynamic assessment in one of her books. I'm planning on putting some money aside to purchase this book in the near future. (This is not the wishful thinking aspect though---that would be attributed to my insane desire to go back to school for a PhD while having no idea about what I want to specialize in.)

In other news, I managed to score a Phineas and Ferb 104 Days of Summer game for $3 at Goodwill today.    I haven't looked too much at the cards. I know that it has following direction tasks and will be a way for me to help the kids learn their days of the week. You can read a review here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The joys of Dollar Tree

I probably will be too tired to work on blogging much this week. I have 4 days of workshops to go to and a grandmother to visit.

This weekend I went to dollar tree to scout out their school supplies before tax-free weekend. (Check out this site for a list of states that hold tax-free weekends: I like to go scope out the stores a week or two in advanced to see if there is anything I don't want to miss out on. If there is something I feel really strongly about, I will usually go ahead and buy that item to avoid disappointment later.

Dollar Tree has several new items in their School Tree line-up. I bought three sets of classroom posters: "Monster Manners"-- plan on making a tissue box monster and letting the kids act out different social situations; Parts of Speech-- will just use these to decorate the room/discussion; and Punctuation-- room decoration/discussion.

I know that the boys will love the monsters. Hopefully, I can make a manners book to accompany the craft project. I have a set of 8 Disney Princess books that I can use with the girls. They will get to use paper dolls for their craft project (unless they request monsters too...).

I also picked up three sets of cards: antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms. I have older students who will use these rather than the picture set I bought last year for my younger ones. They also have sight word cards for each grade level.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pre-workshop jitters and the joys of church yard sales

Next week, I will be going to several workshops. It will be my second experience going to a workshop (let alone 3 different ones) and the first time participating in my state's summer institute program. The courses I'm signed up for don't necessarily scream "SLP", but hopefully they will be useful with my younger ones.

Visual phonics- as I have a student who suffers from a hearing impairment
Letterland for Kindergarten- the EC teachers at my school use it
Social Skills Across the Lifespans- the one that best meets my needs as I'm still grappling with teaching students social skills. (I blame this on being an introvert and feeling socially awkward myself as a kid.)

I'm worried that the four days will be packed with so much information that I won't be able to retain it all. My brain needs to retrain itself from the joys of having a semester-long indulgence in knowledge.

Now on to the more happy topic.....

One of my favorite types of yard sales are ones that support religious organizations. (And, it has nothing to do with my religious beliefs.) Churches and youth groups put on some of the most well-organized yard sales in my community. The items are usually displayed clearly on tables rather than in piles or mysterious heaps in overflowing boxes. Perhaps, I am a yard sale snob? It's just so much nicer when you can clearly see everything.

This past weekend, I convinced my mother to go with me to a 10 family yard sale in support of a Church. It was a very pleasant experience because I got this little guy.....

for FREE. I plan on using him for an articulation game by replacing the hot potato cards with my Weber ones. The kids pass him around and when the music stops, they have to go through the articulation cards and lose the one that they produce (at whatever level) the best.

I also picked up some old conversation cards, Let's Talk!, that were originally intended for learning foreign languages. I plan on using them for social situations as the prompts ask the speaker to act out what he/she would do in real-life scenarios. It absolutely amazes me to find items intended for ESL or teaching foreign languages that can be modified for speech. My favorite find are the "Phonics Monsters" from laternfish. I used them for phonemic awareness as well as articulation last year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love Books in Therapy?

In my brief experience as an SLP, it has come to my attention that everyone does therapy differently. It's not all that shocking really since that's true of many professions. However, it can be frustrating as a graduate student (especially an out-of-fielder) when you are desperately trying to please intimidating supervisors.

My therapy style is rather laid-back as I'm a pretty easy going person. I also love to do creative projects/concepts. This equates to my therapy sessions consisting of more craft projects (paper plate owls, making cards, making posters about nouns/verbs, making ghosts out of milk jugs, etc...) than games.

 I also use a ton of books rather than the school computer. The English major deep within my heart believes that it's a great thing to expose children to text and to combine it with items that they can manipulate (ie...making a Rainbow fish by tearing up pieces of construction paper & gluing it into a collage). I also feel rather strongly about this because so many of my students just want to play games. (Don't get me wrong, I love how easy it is to incorporate games into therapy.)

So here is a helpful hint to those of you who love book-based therapy:

Library Book Sales

I love library book sales because the sales of these books go to something that I strongly believe every community needs...a public library. I feel very fortunate that my mother took me to our library as a child to listen to story time, check out wonderful books, and participate in many of their special programs. It's a small way that I can give back to the community without breaking the bank.

In my community, the FRIENDS of the Library have a bookstore that is open several days each week. It is a peaceful place with the reasonable price of $1 a book for paperback & children's books. Hardbacks vary depending on the popularity and condition, but most of them are only $2. These prices are pretty much the same as what I have to pay at Goodwill. I also shop the sales at the library in my grandmother's small community. They typically ask .10-.50 for their children's books. I managed to get The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly for .25 cents last week. Don't just take my word on it though, here is a link to another blogger who supports these sales too.

(And, yes, this is my way of procrastinating work on my Common Core Goal Bank. I've started 5th grade for Speaking & Listening, but the daunting task of Language is still ahead of me.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Busy Bees

I went to the Dollar Tree this weekend to see if I could get a hold of a couple those echo microphones that I used to play with as a kid. They seem like a great idea to get reluctant kids to work on their articulation drills. While I didn't have any luck in my hunt, I did find something that I plan on using for articulation therapy.

It's actually made for classroom door decor as part of their "teaching tree" line. It's a bee hive with a bunch of little bees for student names. Well, I thought it would be perfect as a game for those pesky /z/ sounds. I plan on laminating all of the pieces and attaching velcro to the bee cards. This way I can use the cards for whatever position I happen to need. The kids get to put their picture on a bee once they correctly produce the sound (or say it 5 times, in a sentence, etc). Students who don't have /z/ as a goal can use it for language goals (use the picture to make a sentence, etc). The student who earns the most bees wins the game.

If you are lucky enough to land one of these little beauties, here are the clip art pictures I plan to use:

Initial from another blog I found (as I don't have Board-maker and clip art failed me)
Medial & Final

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Common Core

I have been a very busy person lately. The Common Core is on my mind much as it is on many educators. Many people have enjoyed training sessions provided by their district or from workshops. I find that these sessions result in one of two scenarios: a) I actually get this! I am superwoman! (aka...Knowledge empowered) or b) I feel like I knew less when I started out. (aka...Completely clueless). My general state of being at the time of my district's training sessions was overwhelmed from all the other stuff I needed to learn as a CF. You can imagine the scenario I ended up in......

Therefore, I have devoted quite a bit of time to reviewing the Common Core standards on my own. I wish I could say that I understand everything, but it feels very far from it at times. My main goal is just to get a grasp at how it will affect IEP goals. The only way I know how to do this is create a goal bank. 

Here is a peek at what I've been up to.....................

Common Core Speaking & Listening Goal Bank
-First Grade

BTW, if you want a PDF of the standards for each grade there is a nice website to visit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quick reference

As a newly minted CF (and now a CCC-SLP), I discovered that I really enjoy having a quick reference chart near my desk. It makes things so much easier when I am writing goals or working on billing Medicaid. This past school year, I hung about a million sheets of paper at my desk to use as references. It did the trick whenever I needed to give teachers a quick bit of information without having to think through all of my training on the spot. It also made me wonder what parents must think when they came into my room for meetings. A wall full of paper with all kinds of weird stuff on it? Yeah, that's a great first impression....NOT.

My solution to this problem came at the very end of the year. All of my reference papers were laminated and could easily be stored in a notebook, but I didn't want another bulky binder on my bookcase. It is literally the pit of despair for materials as I often forget that I have all this stuff there to use. I needed something that could stay on my desk and not take up too much space. Desperate times called for a desperate measure....the book-binding machine.  If you have never seen one of these lovely contraptions, consider yourself fortunate as they often arise a great sense of confusion and frustration. It took me until the end of the year to find someone who actually knew how to use the darn thing and was willing to teach me without laughing at me. The result? A beautifully bound pack of information that I use on a frequent basis. It has a list of intervention techniques, developmental charts, IEP writing tips, etc...and it barely takes up any room.

To make your own:
1. Print/copy information that you frequently use/look up
2. Laminate the papers
3. Go to a book binding machine and insert the papers to make the holes
4. Get an appropriately sized binder and insert it into the holes using the machine.

Here are some of the key components to my reference book:

IEP information

Present Level of Academic Performance

Annual Goal

Short-term Goal

Intervention Techniques  (given to me by my school placement supervisor during grad. school)

Monday, July 9, 2012

A penny for your thoughts?

The best things in life are usually free. Today, I wanted to dedicate a post to something that has been an invaluable resource to me for several years now.

Livejournal, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the website, is similar to an online journal/blog. The main difference is the ability to join communities where you may interact with other people.

Speech and Language Pathology is one such community on livejournal for SLPs and those who hope to enter the profession. I have been a member of this group for roughly 4 years now. The posts range from seeking advice on graduate schools/entering the profession to clinical situations to job hunting. I get to interact with brand new CFs and experienced clinicians from all over the country (and a few from other countries) alike in between playing facebook games. There are also people who work in hospitals, schools, SNFs, etc. so it provides ample opportunity to learn about other settings. I find that this community is a good outlet for me as I don't get to interact with the other SLPs in my district on a frequent basis besides my CF supervisor. It gets lonely when you are the only person in your building that does what you do and are the youngest SLP in the district.

I would go on, but I think it's just something you have to check out for yourself.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In which she saw lots of organization....

This is going to be a short post that isn't the most SLP related, but a general classroom/life woe....ORGANIZATION

Pinterest is a great source of my inspiration for craft projects as well as a great place to find printables which I use a ton. (Perhaps, I will get brave and try to make my own this summer to go along with a game I picked up recently.) It also depresses me. Why?

And, the billions of ideas to dress up bulletins/doors/containers. 

Yes, I freely admit that my classroom organization skills are clearly sub-par. My room is small and pretty much qualifies as a closet. It has one odd-angled wall, a bump out, a closet door that has to be kept clear, and one truly straight wall. It should be easy to keep tidy, but it typically looks like a tornado has hit it after my first therapy session. I think it's partly from all the crafting projects we do (I prefer books & a related project to games on most days) and the lack of storage. Sadly, this is just from my CF year so I can't even imagine what it will look like once I've had a few years to hit up the Super Duper sales.

To combat the constant "natural disaster" state (pre-IEP meetings/cleanup Fridays), I've bought three smaller single drawer Sterilite containers, one larger single drawer Sterilite container, and a small three drawer Sterilite container (for under the therapy table I hope). These were all purchased from Goodwill for $2-5. I'm hoping to decorate them with the cute scrapbooking paper ideas that are floating around pinterest. This is not a natural skill for me so they will probably not look as good as the one below. 

The thing I like most about using scrapbook/old wrapping paper to dress up the Sterilite containers is the ability to hide whatever is inside. My students are constantly grabbing interesting items off of my bookshelves or at least focusing on them instead of listening. It's not a happy day when I have to take away stickers (my reward system) from them. The new storage system should make it easier for the students to pay attention and clear away some of the clutter from our lives. 

What are some things you do to combat storage woes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Party City

 Party City is my latest thrifty friend. Since I live 30+ miles away from the nearest one, it's not a place that I frequently visit even though I love the fact that I can find toys for .10-.59 cents in their party favor bins. They have all kinds of things from erasers, noisemakers, rings, yo-yos, mini puzzles, and figurines. They can be purchased in bulk orders online much like items in Oriental Trading Co. if you prefer buying items online. The kids typically love finding their items in my prize box (and I am nice enough to avoid the noisemakers that teachers will hate even though they look cool). 

This past weekend, I went there to see if I could find some small toys to put in a "calm-down" box I making in part of my preparation for some new students I will be serving. If you don't have one of these handy boxes, it may be something to look into for students who have a difficult time with transitions/changes/rough days. I consider myself very fortunate in the fact that all of my students last year were pretty high functioning and able to handle a variety of situations well (ie..having new peers introduced, changing groups around, make-up sessions, etc...). I remember how horribly the preschoolers I saw in graduate school would react to changes and my new nonverbal friends may have similar reactions. The toys in my calm down box will be there to help them as they try to settle their roaring mix of emotions and overwhelmed senses down. I plan on having a variety of puffer balls and small "quiet" toys in a shoe box container near the entrance to my room. Another alternative, which I plan to offer, is a sensory "bean" box that can double as an "I spy box" for use in therapy.

Check out this blog if you want to see more about this calm down kit.

Where does Party City fall into this mix? Well,  mini puffer balls for under a dollar is a great deal. They also have some spinning tops, "wooly" creatures, and mini bubbles. I can easily replace items like these should they get broken or lost without breaking the bank due to the inexpensive price. (I also got a puffer ball fish and mini slinky from Target's dollar spot.) 

My second reason for liking Party City, is the fact that I found animal figurines that are the perfect addition to my growing phonics box supply. I didn't have to hunt through a ton of old McDonald's Happy Meal toys to find something small enough to work. They were all right there in plain sight! (Although, I did manage to score a Yak figurine at the Salvation Army store doing it the hard way.) I guess it's okay to take the lazy way out sometimes. After all, these figurines will be great for animal vocabulary and working on articulation drills with my younger students. 

If you are creative and enjoy decorating your speech room in themes throughout the year, Party City is also a  great source of inspiration. They have all kinds of decorations that you can purchase or even imitate using butcher paper that your school provides for bulletin boards. I made a grass skirt door decoration for part of my end of the year theme this year after seeing a similar item

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Basic Consonants for Artic

I entered a contest a while ago for a set of books from Northern Speech Services. If you haven't heard of this company, I highly recommend visiting their amazing website. I love that they have therapy materials as well as CEU courses (they are probably a bit more medically based than school-based). I love looking at their catalog and highlighting items that I hope to buy someday.

The Basic Consonant Books

I didn't have my blog up and running at that point so the thought of reviewing this product never came to mind. I thought I would share my thoughts on them now that I have the time to do a review justice. Please keep in mind that this is my opinion....

The set includes 9 books:

  • (b) Bunny Bop
  • (k) Katey the Kung fu Kangaroo
  • (h) Hanna Hippo
  • (g) Gooey Gum
  • (n) Nifty Noodles
  • (d) Danny Dragon
  • (t) Timmy Turtle
  • (m) Let's Make Music
  • (p) Patty the Pink Pig
 The books are short with kid-friendly vocabulary and illustrations. 

The group of 1st & 2nd graders that I worked with read Hanna Hippo. These students generally HATE books
 (both are very poor readers), but they followed along with the story readily. The text and story were simple.
 Hanna the Hippo loves to laugh and goes around her town to share a laugh with her friends. 
The author provides ample opportunities to practice your target sound. My students were laughing as they 
imitated Hanna the Hippo's laughter throughout the story. I was also able to use this story to talk about 
sequencing, which friends did Hanna laugh with first and what happened to Hanna at the end of the story? 

1. Ample opportunity to practice target sound
2. Kid friendly text & vocabulary (also introduces some new words to discuss with your students--
 like how a pig can also be called a "hog")
3. Each book has a list of target words and sight words at the end of the story. 
4. You can easily use the story to incorporate sequencing of events (if that's a goal for your student)
5. The books are small so they don't take up a ton of room (which is important if your room is a closet like mine)

1. The books may be a little babyish for older kids (3 grade & up)

Overall, I am really pleased with these books and hope that I will be able to get the complex consonant set 
someday in the future.