Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's Here! Better Hearing & Speech Month is finally here!

There are few better ways to start off Better Hearing & Speech Month than coming across SLP related things at thrift stores. The fact that my mom got it for half price as a senior makes this even more awesome.

Who would have never thought of making a cookbook that contains SLP facts and delicious recipes? 
*raises hand high*
Who thinks ASHA or NCSHLA should get in on this idea?
*raises hand again*

Honestly, it is such a wonderful way to get attention from a larger group of people. There are so many people who buy cookbooks just for the sake of reading the little asides and local trivia. 

I look forward to someday proudly displaying this in my future house. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Thank heavens for field trip days....

Thank heavens for field trips to the zoo. This SLP has been overrun with paperwork and making a presentation to show at our next speech meeting. I thought this was a very appropriate to talk about the joys of Field Trips for those of you who will be joining the ranks of the school-based SLPs or are considering it.

Oh let me count the ways......

1) It's one of the most excellent ways to play paperwork catch up. I spent my additional time writing a last minute IEP (thanks to testing mods that the case manger almost hard feelings because it's hard to keep track of so many students.), finishing up an eval. report, and writing an IEP for an upcoming meeting.

I also recommend tackling billing. I was planning on doing that until the IEP stuff came up.

2) Setting up meetings. I always call parents during my lunch or after school. I think these are probably 2/3 worst times to call a parent. You either don't get an answer or they're in a hurry with nothing nearby to write a date down. (The third is in the morning before 9 am.)

3) Planning therapy lessons and/or making materials. I love doing some of my crafty things so my students have examples to go by. I've learned that several of my students will not attempt any craft activity until they have seen one that's already made.

4) Send out emails. Want to know how students in RtI are doing? How about checking in on the ones that are already on the caseload?

5) Going to the library to pick out some new books. This is one that I NEVER have enough time to do. Field trips are the only opportunity I get.

What do you like to do on field trip days?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Adventures in Earth Day

One of the best things about working with children as an SLP is the unlimited supply of themes. You can find a theme to address just about anything you want in a way that will motivate children. This year is the first that I have tried my hand at Earth Day. I guess that makes me really bad, but it's one theme that had me really intimidated as the teachers at my school tend to be really creative with this one. I decided to keep my lessons simple. 

My formula for tackling Earth Day

1) Brain Pop Jr. video clips. I showed all of my students the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle episode. The older ones also watched the clip on Natural Resources

2) Trash vs. Recycle. In the video clip, Moby and Annie talk about the things you can put into a recycling bin. My room is blessed with a recycling bin and trash can. We talked about the difference of how the two look (mostly the recycle symbol) and how they are used in the classrooms around my school. My students really got a good kick out of me waving around the two bins as I talked. Once we were clear on what we use them for at school, I took out my Jeepers Peepers cards for some sorting practice. My students had to hold the card over the bin that they would the actual object. (You could use pictures of the two bins instead.) I was very impressed by how quickly they picked up on the paper, plastic, metal concept. 

3) Multi-sensory "field trip" for Natural Resources- I pulled out the EET and we went outside to talk about what we saw. The big theme of the day was identifying materials that are natural vs. human made for our Green Group. My 3-5th grade groups went through the entire EET to describe the objects that we saw. My 1-2nd groups focused mostly on the first 4 strands. Sometimes we could even compare two of the things like grass vs. sidewalk. My students really loved being outside and it really contextualized this concept in a way that pictures can't.

4) Earth Talk- I won a set of Earth Talk cards at the NCSHLA convention. This was what initially propelled me to tackle Earth Day this year. This set does a wonderful job of targeting language goals. Every card asks for the main idea and open ended questions. The harder level cards also work on wh- questions. I stuck with the easier level after realizing that the harder level perplexed my older students. I think the second level is probably better for middle school students. Either way, my students really enjoyed learning the new vocabulary words. I would suggest showing students actual pictures of some of the things mentioned in the cards because the illustrations don't always match up. (There's nothing bad about the illustrations in this deck. I did activities with just those as well, but it's hard to draw a really good picture of air pollution.) If you are really passionate about using an Earth Day theme, these aren't a bad investment.

The best part of this adventure was seeing the smiles. I was worried for nothing. I love that children can appreciate the simple things just as well as the fancy ones. April 22, 2015 better be ready for lots of Earth Day fun.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Faculty Socials....What to take???

I don't know if every school does a faculty social, but mine has one every month that is hosted by a different grade level/team. We have some staff members who are very consistent in what they bring and how their team sets up the fare. We also have some members of the staff who are always bringing something new each time their team has to host. It could be store bought or homemade....It's just never the same thing twice.

I fall into the second category. Socials stress me out. I never know what to bring and my cooking skills are still at your basic college level. The only thing that I really do know after three years of socials is that store bought food is usually very low on the totem pole. It seems like everyone at my school will refuse to eat cookies or baked goods from the grocery store. So I thought I would share the one decent recipe I have for socials today.

Fail-proof Chicken Crescent Rolls

My version is modified from this one:
2 cans of white meat chicken
1.5 containers of garden vegetable cream cheese
2 containers of 8 count crescent rolls

Drain the chicken and mash up the chunks into small threads. Mix with the cream cheese until well blended. Then place a spoonful of the cream cheese chicken mixture onto each crescent roll. Roll the crescent rolls up and then bake according to the directions on the can. I like to let my crescent rolls just get a touch of golden color before taking them out of the oven.

You can add extra ingredients to the cream cheese mixture. I've used celery and sage in them. I've also used several different kinds of cream cheese spreads. My favorite is the vegetable medley.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're all bucket fillers here.....

I know that there are tons of people posting about this book. I'm jumping on the bandwagon quite late because our leadership trainees gave everyone at my school a copy of this book recently. Getting this book for free has been the silver lining of the past three weeks. My younger groups jumped in with reading this book (even though most of them read it at the beginning of the year) with little hesitation. They love the colorful pictures and I love the simple explanations. It is worth it's weight in gold at this point as tempers are starting to flare up a bit. 

I like to break books like this up into sections. The first reading focused on the positives of being a bucket filler and the second featured the bucket dippers. 

We made a list of things that fill our buckets and then things that dip into our buckets. It was a pretty big hit with the majority of my students. (You can access my less than stellar drawings by clicking the underlined words.)
The book's website has great free resources too.

I think this is one of those books that definitely needs several readings across the school year. It just helps remind all of our students that respect and kindness are golden. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming to the end of the school year, right?
 I have two more additions to my syntax card series this weekend. They work the same way as the noun set. Have the students circle or highlight the target word(s). There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about the other word types they can find in each sentence within each packet. I would just use a different color for each word type that you use consistently in sessions (I use the Colorful Semantics scheme). Level one cards are simple sentences that contain fewer words. Level two cards are slightly harder. Each card set features a different color frame so you can tell them apart.

I Mustache You to Find the Verbs here and I Mustache You to Find the Describers here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Give me the simple days....

Life is a bit crazy now. The end of the year stress has hit at work and I'm also worried about Serenity's impending vet appointment. She's supposed to go get her checkup with the specialists at the NC State towards the end of the month. We took her to our local vet last week and found out she's gained some weight. She weighs in at a whooping 8 pounds, which is a whole 3 pounds from the time that she had her surgery. We're really hopefully that this means that the surgery worked. However, I am not going to put all of my eggs in the basket just yet. My main goal in these next few weeks is to spend as much of my free time with her as possible.

I guess the one upside to all of the craziness of life is that it really sends me back to the basics. I pulled out one of my big foam dice cubes from the Dollar Tree this week for my articulation groups. My students used the dice to figure out how many times to say their word or phrase. It was so simple but so effective. I wish I had thought to do it sooner!  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Thoughts from the NCSHLA conference....

If I had to sum up the NCSHLA conference in just one word, I would not hesitate to say AMAZING. I hope that my district will continue to send us to the conference for many years to come because every class taught me something new. 
The site of the conference.
I was very fortunate enough to attend two courses on English Language Learners by Dr. Roseberry-McKibbon. The first was a short course on non-biased assessments and the second focused on therapy strategies. As a monolingual therapist in a high poverty school with about an 80% ELL population, I feel like these two sessions were probably the most important ones that I attended (though all of the sessions were good). The information is practical and feasible even in the school setting. One tip that has really stuck out to me, is the relationship between non-sense word fluency scores and language impairment. I had never heard of that. There is no way I could ever write a post that would do even a half-way decent job of describing these awesome presentations (so I won't), but I highly recommend going to see her if you have the opportunity. 

I attended several presentations related to Autism Spectrum Presentations:

-Targeting Facial Expression
-Behavioral Skill Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders
-Improving Social Communication Skills in Children with Autism

I loved them all for different reasons, but my favorite was the one on Targeting Facial Expressions. I loved how the speaker broke down what is seemingly a very difficult task into something much simpler based on the current research. She recommended Paul Ekman & Wallace Friesen's book: Unmasking the Face. It's definitely on my To-Read list. 

Did you know that we have six main facial expressions? 
  1. Happiness
  2. Sadness
  3. Fear
  4. Disgust
  5. Anger
  6. Surprise
You can even take a baseline and track a client's performance with making these six expressions by focusing on the three "zones" of the face (the upper zone, middle zone, and lower zone). It does require the use of a camera (either digital or on a tablet). Tablets are probably a better method because you can set it up to where the client can make the facial expressions on video with the automatic visual feedback.

The other sessions I attended were a mixture of different topics ranging from 25 Timeless Tips for Supervision to TBI in Pediatrics. I loved how many options were available even though it was a state conference. Kudos to NCSHLA for all of their hard work on making this conference such a great experience! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Giving grammar a little sparkle...

I will admit that I got a little ahead of myself back in January when I thought of all the wonderful things I wanted to make this year. My top priority was a new set of syntax cards to use with my older students. Sadly, all of my students with grammar goals have either graduated or moved since I started this project. There's no use in crying over spilled milk so I decided to keep working on the cards for future students to come. I'm very proud that I've managed to get through the first set!

I couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate becoming a Speechie Freebie collaborator than by sharing this noun activity with you. 

The goal of the packet is to have students identify words based on the specific grammar target. You can have the students circle or highlight the words. Plus, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about the other word types they can find in each sentence. I would just use a different color for each word type that you use consistently in sessions (I use the Colorful Semantics scheme). Level one cards are simple sentences that contain fewer words. Level two cards are slightly harder. 

Grab your copy of I Mustache You to Find the Nouns here.