Thursday, August 2, 2018

Hello blog, It's been a long time....

I am not sure if anyone still follows or reads my blog after the terrible job I have done in writing this past school year. I appreciate those of you who have kept up with me and checked-in to see if anything new ever popped up. Honestly, it was a rough year that needs no words. I would rather just start this year off with the hope that I can offer some small piece of help to someone else. It could be anyone in the district or community. If it is nothing more than giving them a smile to make their day a little bit happier. May you have a wonderful 2018-2019 school year!!!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

So you need to do a Professional Portfolio....

While I will admit that I could have spent hours pouring over ASHA's PACE guidelines and the NC Evaluation Tool for SLPs to develop my own system, I decided that it would simply be too much stress on me this year with all that I already have on my plate. So I decided to purchase the Editable Danielson Portfolio by Natalie Snyders. It was $20 well spent in my books.


1) Natalie has already done the hardest part of the work for you. She spent hours doing the research of what does and doesn't belong in a professional portfolio using the Danielson model.

2) The templates are very clean and professional. You don't have to do much of anything to the formatting asides from adding your name and pictures.

3) Natalie includes a well-written description on most of the pages that you can simply tweak. She also gives you a PDF copy of her binder as an example. I found this really helpful on the few open-ended pages where you describe your own style.

4) She also gives you ideas for evidence. This is probably the most time consuming part of the process. You will need to collect samples of paperwork (evaluations, SOAP notes, rating scales/rubrics, therapy artifacts, CEU certificates, etc). I, for one, am really bad about saving our speech meeting agendas even though I often share about materials or new therapy ideas that I've run across. This binder forces me to be a little bit better about keeping those to show how I collaborate and share.

Things that I have learned:

1) You should keep documentation of the things that you are doing regardless of whether or not it is a requirement. I had saved some samples over the years that I could use, but there are many activities that I don't have any samples from that would have demonstrated even more skills. I can recreate some of it, but I may not have any students working on those goals now.

2) It is good to keep a running record of contacts with teachers beyond looking back in emails.

3) It is sometimes better to spend money than time. I am not a huge fan of buying materials from Teachers Pay Teachers (although I like freebies) since they still require a little tweaking. It's easier to make my own that are tailored to my students. It is helpful to have the resources for things that are not necessarily used for therapy, like letters to parents or the summer calendars. I can only imagine how long it would take to make this binder from scratch. There is definitely a balance.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I can't believe that it's already December! It seems like 2017 has flown by. It has definitely been an interesting year. I've given a presentation at a state level conference, discovered Project CORE, seen several wonderful coworkers move on to new positions, and started making a professional development notebook. I am grateful for the challenges and learning opportunities that I've had this year.

I am wrapping up this year with a month full of crafts. We are going to make paper chains with our articulation words to decorate my door and trees for the hallway. I cannot wait to get it finished as I continue to struggle to find a place to keep what we've done so far.

Here are some freebies that I'm using with my students this month:
1. The 12 Days of Christmas articulation craft. I am actually using this in a different manner to talk about gratitude. We brainstormed things that we are thankful to have and wrote them down on our papers. 
2. Reader's theatre: Bob the Goofy Reindeer. I am using this to target articulation and reading comprehension.
3. Christmas Search. While this is geared towards articulation, it is also a great activity to talk about holiday vocabulary words and work on following directions with coloring.
4. Christmas similes and metaphors task cards.
5. Christmas Clues. This is great for inferencing.
6. Christmas reinforcement worksheets. I love the roll and color sheets in this packet.
7. Christmas interactive book. Students have to find the sweater based on the description.
8. Christmas around the world. I use this with my older students to talk about other cultures. I found this beautiful  New Zeland wreath craft to use this year.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I'm a materials geek!

This school has probably had the most unusual start of any that I've had so far in my career. We had a tremendous amount of problems scheduling as an Exceptional Children's team. It only took four weeks to figure out. (Yikes!) I am not sure what is so different about this year from the previous ones, but I hope this won't happen again for quite some time.

Through all of that excitement, I got to use several new materials that I want to share my thoughts on. I have posted about Teddy Talker many times. I always love to incorporate Teddy into my younger groups. Teddy Talker's Phoneme Friends is no exception. I have been using this great addition since the spring. I really like to use Teddy's newest edition with Mia McDaniel's wonderful Articulation Cans. This way my students have the Teddy visuals for shaping their mouths, the letter cues at the bottom for spelling, and the target picture. It's really helped get those final consonants!

I am also using Teddy with Speech Corner's Articulation Rolling Cubes. My school district recently purchased this set for me over the summer. It's quickly becoming a second favorite when I can't use my articulation cans. My students get to help Teddy sort out the cubes that have his sound and we talk about how to spell the word. I have pulled out my Teddy puppet to use with the action dice. My students like this because it's funny to make Teddy practice his sounds while clapping his paws or stomping our feet.

My older students have not been left out of the fun this year. My district also purchased two great educational games for context clues and inferencing.

The first one, Context Clues: Riddle of the Ruins, is from Lakeshore Learning. I really like this game because their are two levels of cards. The first one is a multiple choice for the word meaning. The second type are fill in the blanks with the best word. I used this with my middle school students and asked them for their thoughts on the game at the end of their sessions. They were all in agreement that it was a fun game even though a few of them got caught by the traps. They really liked the secret decoder. That was probably the highlight of this one. Sadly, Lakeshore has discontinued the game.

The second game, Treasure Trove, is from Speech Corner. It has an optional add-on set that my district also purchased that really makes this game a versatile tool. I can target synonyms, antonyms, homophones, inferencing, context clues, multiple meaning words. I decided to test this out with my middle school groups so I could get honest opinions. The level of difficulty is a bit harder than the previous game, but they never once complained about the cards being too hard. If anything, I think they enjoyed a good challenge. It is a great way to indirectly work on social skills too. I lost track of how many times they had to "steal" coins and gems from each other. It was pretty funny to watch their reactions. Some of them only wanted the coins or only wanted gems.  

Wishing all of you a happy October!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Welcome 2017-2018

It is here! The 2017-2018 school year has officially started for students this Monday.

I want to kick off my first blog post for this year by talking about how I typically kick things off into gear for the school year.

1. Rules- Every staff member is asked to somehow tie their classroom rules back to the school rules: Be Respectful, Act Responsibly, Remember Kindness, and Keep Safe. They are literally posted everywhere in this building. I typically take the first couple of sessions to lay this groundwork by focusing on Whole Body Listening (Respectful), Bucket Filling (Kindness), and transitioning in the hallways to and from (Safe/Responsible). We are going to make little mini-posters this year with what each of these words means to us. I am going to put them on my closet door around the school rules poster that I have. This way we can look back at what we said throughout the year and hold ourselves accountable.

2. Progress Monitoring- I like to start out each school year by taking a good baseline of skills. I use a mixture of tools depending on my review of the IEP and previous year's notes. The main tools I use come from the 5 Minute Articulation books screener page and the Language/Grammar Progress Monitoring Bundle from Natalie Synders. I also use wordless picture books to get a better sense of articulation, fluency, and language. I honestly feel like having this baseline really helps me write better IEPs.

3. Introducing/Reviewing our Goals!- I like to start out every year with a little about me craft that incorporates what we'll work on this year. I am trying the Dabbling Speechie's free backpack craft this year. I think that these will be great to put up on my bulletin board or the back of my hallway door. The only complaint I have right now is how time consuming it is to cut out all of the little pieces (I find it's easier to pre-cut stuff to reduce how much time certain crafts eat up).

4. Introducing/Reviewing our strategies. This is the fun part! I get to pull out my favorite materials and really get into the thick of therapy again.
  • Visual Phonics
  • Teddy Talker
  • Colorful Semantics
  • Expanding Expression Tool
  • Braidy and Story Grammar Marker
I will also be on the hunt for new ideas and strategies too! I have learned so much this summer from reading blog posts, ASHA leader articles, and CEU courses that I can't wait to try.

Now, time for some shameless room pictures! I am so happy with how things turned out. It was so much easier than years before since I tried to organize everything before summer break.

 I used a table cloth from the Dollar Store this year instead of using the butcher paper that the school provides. I love the color of it. It's almost turquoise although it looks lighter in the picture. My husband and I cut the hot air balloons off of gift bags that he spotted there as well. I love how well they turned out!

My articulation station. I have found that it's much easier to keep these materials close to my table. I can easily grab different card decks or a leveled reader when I'm in a rush for time. I am happy to say that Teddy Talker will be making his appearance in my room too. I am going to put those materials out on the brown bookcase once I finish up the lower shelf. It's my arts and crafts area and is usually a terrible mess. I'm trying out different bins to reduce the craziness, but haven't found the perfect set up just yet. I'll get there.

Our new principle wanted all of us to post "I can" posters in our rooms. I decided to make a simple set that would cover the goals I see most often. I love how the little Disney touches turned out. I wanted them to be subtle since I usually change themes each year.

My paperwork area. I keep most of the things I find on Teachers Pay Teachers in those two purple shelves according to season. I find that it's the easiest way to sort my language materials.

A view of Braidy and Story Grammar Marker. I love these two tools so much!

I hope you have enjoyed a sneak peak of my room and ideas for starting the new year. Good luck to all of you for this school year!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rest and Relaxation....something we all need

It's been a little over a month since my last post and I've been trying to use that time to take a break from all things related to the field before I dive back into working on a presentation I'll be giving with our lead SLP at a conference in the fall. It's made me realize just how little time I've given myself to do things outside of the field since I started graduate school. We all need to give ourselves a break every once in a while or face the consequences of a major burn out.

So.....I decided to learn how to ride a bike. Yes, something that almost every child learns to do and I don't know how to do it. I blame my neighbor's big dog that was determined to knock me off every time I tried as a kid. Pavement hurts. However, I am trying to push myself to go outside of my comfort zone after talking to my social skills group about my struggle this year. I can't ask my students to go outside of their comfort zones if I'm not willing to try. It's been an interesting ride to say the least. My poor husband had to spend two weekends putting the bike together and we're still working on some kinks with the brakes and tires. I've read blogs and articles from other adult learners on tips to get started. They all pretty much say that it's much harder due to the fear that's been allowed to build up for so long. They're right in some ways. I managed to get both of my feet on the pedals today with assistance from my husband before falling over. I've gotten really good at gliding on it though. Baby steps. It's all about taking it one step at a time and I give myself the same pep talks as I give my students. I've got this. I've got this. My goal is to be able to ride a bike in time for our Christmas vacation to the beach.

I've also had the chance to explore some of my state's history. We stayed in NC for our second wedding anniversary instead of going down to Florida for another Disney trip. It was nice to stay closer to home. We explored the lower coastal region and got to see so many neat things. We can now say that we've seen three lighthouses and the foundation of a fourth that was torn down long ago. We rode our first car ferry, touched stingrays and a nurse shark, and visited a battleship and two forts. It's so easy to forget historic sites when you see the shiny steel of roller coasters in commercials all the time. They all had a beauty about them. I think everyone should make it a point to see at least one nearby historic site in their lifetime. You miss out on so much by skipping over them for the flashy stuff.

The summer has had some bumps too. We were in a three car wreck right at the end of June. Thankfully, the damage was minor to the cars and everyone seemed fine. I've been struggling with being able to feel comfortable on the road though. Everyone keeps telling me that it's natural to feel this way. I hope so because I really can't help but be jittery. I'm trying to drive a little bit every day to force myself to regain my confidence. Little by little....that's my theme for the summer.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wanted: AAC CEUs

As this is the final week for students in my district, I am trying to start planning for the next year with an eye towards summer CEU opportunities. One of the best and worst things about this field is the huge range of areas we can treat. Everyone has certain areas that they enjoy more than others. However, it is not easy to be picky when you are a school-based SLP. There's no telling what you will run across during the school year. We have to be jack-of-all trades and it's a daunting task. I have found that it is easier to focus on one area each year and look for additional topics as they pop up on my caseload. Initially, I focused on learning the paperwork and how to serve bilingual students. The past two years have been driven more towards literacy and social skills. These are all pretty big topics in the field as a whole and are things that my district has also tried to address with teachers.

This summer, I have decided to take a break from those things as it gets to be an information overload. It's time to do something different that can eventually be tied back. Something that will get me out of my comfort zone. So....I am going to focus on AAC. It is something that I have wanted to learn more about, but have always put on the back burner to focus on areas that were an immediate need.

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  • Angelman Syndrome Foundation Communication Training Webinar Series- This is an incredibly informative year-long series. The webinars build upon each other. You can pick just a few or take the entire series. I've just recently started this series and am planning to watch the entire program.
  • AAC Institute- Free Webinars- The first four webinars are free and are introductory level. They also offer additional paid webinars.
  • Tobii Dynavox- Free Webinars- This is a great resource, particularly if you use Boardmaker or want to learn more about Dynavox devices.
  • AbleNet University- I cannot wait to start taking their webinars.
  • Lingraphica- Free Online Webinars- These are more geared towards adults.
In Person Workshops:
Other Resources: