Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking beyond....

It's been an interesting week so far. I had a nasty stomach bug over the weekend and it's taken me until today to finally feel back to my usual self. As a result, I have been one very scatterbrained therapist these past two days and trying to play catch-up from my sick day. My students probably think an alien has taken over my brain. Then again, they're so excited about the prospects of reeling in a big haul of candy that nothing else really matters at this point. 

It seems like moods are running a little bit high at work this week. I got fussed at today for pulling a student on my normal day at my normal time. It's the first time that I've ever had to deal with this kind of reaction to me holding a group and it was a bit shocking. It was also a touch humiliating as the person made a small scene in front of a class of students. Hopefully, it's just pre-fall benchmark jitters and not something that will continue to occur. 

So to soothe my emotions and take a much needed mental vacation from all things Fall, I made this preposition activity. It's very similar to the spooky prepositions activity that I made for the Spooky Fun Frenzy. The file is black and white so students can color selected targets and to avoid the need of color ink. 

You can grab a copy of Snowy Prepositions here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

That Old Lady is REALLY hungry.....

I imagine that most of you are getting pretty sick of the Halloween/Fall themed posts. Please forgive me for posting one last look at the season with my plans for the week......

I drew the items that the old lady swallowed from this story so my students can feed their own personal old ladies. They will color the lady and the creatures before we tape an envelope "stomach" to the backside of the lady pages. I made up my own set to use with my old lady tissue box.  
 I'm really proud of how well my free-hand sketches turned out. I've caught quite a few teachers at my school using their Smartboards to blow up pictures and trace them. One of the few benefits to not having a Smartboard is sharpening up your old artistic skills. You could also grab these free re-telling pieces.

The end results motivated me enough to make a set for the Old Lady who Swallowed Some Leaves. I haven't colored those ones in yet so they're not pretty enough to be shown.

 For my language groups that meet twice a week, I plan on spending the first day of therapy focusing on the Bat story. My students will use the second day to compare and contrast the two Old Lady stories using this free worksheet. They could not get over all the weird stuff she ate for Fall so I'm pretty sure the comparisons will bring out plenty of funny observations. The articulation groups who are at reading level will also get to join in on the fun with these activities.

I also scooped up this fun vowel sort freebie for one of my lower articulation groups, morning remediation, and after-school tutoring groups. Let's hope the magic of Mickey Mouse and a fairy wand will make CVC words a bit more fun this week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rising to the Challenge: SLPs and Common Core

This is an updated re-post of a guest post that I wrote for Live Love Speech.

In preparation for the school year or other big events, I find it is a good idea to reflect upon tasks that you find challenging. It could be the ever daunting task of organization, efficient ways to bill Medicaid or arrange schedules, tackling Response to Intervention (RtI) concerns, or just surviving your first year as an SLP. The list could certainly go on and on depending on the topic...but I don't want you to feel overwhelmed by all of those possibilities. It's something that I fall prey to all too easily myself unless I take the time to really process through each concern. The largest of my concerns as a school-based SLP is to ensure that my therapy sessions compliment what my students are expected to do academically. 

It all boils down to the Common Core. The main idea of the Core concept is that students build their knowledge upon the foundation of the previous year(s) of education all the way back to what is started in kindergarten/pre-K. It shows us what typically developing children are expected to do within the classroom. In North Carolina, we also have Extended Content Standards for students with "Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities" that adapt the Core Standards to something more manageable. Oral language is a major component in the Standards (even the adapted ones) throughout the grade levels. This gives SLPs ample opportunity to collaborate with classroom teachers as we have a great amount of expertise that can assist them. They, in turn, can help us understand the objectives of their particular grade level (ie. giving us their lesson plans) since the Common Core doesn't have a specific curriculum. My summer training in Reading Foundations drove this point home. Our teachers are being taught the structure of language and how it impacts both reading and writing. I'm here to support them as they transition this new knowledge into practice this year. 

So how does this collaboration transfer to my therapy sessions?

Well, initially I use a set of teacher checklist forms created by the wonderful SLPs of Chapel-Hill Carrboro City Schools that align with the Core to demonstrate academic need during assessments. I find that this is a great foundation for me to use with results from standardized assessments in creating IEP goals. Once I have the IEP goals written from the point of the student's demonstrated needs, I can look at the Standards/Extended Standards to see if there's a correlation. You may not always have a correlation between the two depending upon the needs of the individual student and that's okay as long as you understand how it's impacting his/her academic performance. Once the IEP goals are agreed upon by the team, it is time to get down to business! 

Strategies: Talk to the classroom teacher to see what strategies work and don't work for the student in the classroom. If you know something that works well in therapy, work together to see that it gets implemented in the classroom too. Consistency is something that we all need no matter our age. I find that brainstorming with other staff members helps me learn new tactics for my "toolbox."

Make your lessons Systematic, Explicit, and Multi-sensory (SEM). This is advice they stress in Reading Foundations and I completely concur.  
  • Systematic- It all boils down to having a set plan which is your IEP. You are constantly assessing students based on their daily performance towards their goals in therapy. The IEP goals and recent data are used to develop the next therapy session's work. I find that this is easier for me when I use a monthly theme to target goals. Classroom teachers can give me their lesson plans so I know what topics they are covering and key vocabulary words for that unit. It's much more beneficial for students if you can provide extra repetition of these key concepts in another manner. That being said, even the best lesson plans can go awry so always try to be flexible too.   
  • Explicit- Explain what your expectations are for your students using words that they can understand. If they know what you want them to do, they will have an easier time of seeing a purpose in coming to speech. (Granted, you have to get them past the "games, games, games" stage.) I find that this is much easier with my older students. I can tell them that we're going to use a color coding system to help remember the parts of speech and that eventually they need to do it by themselves. My articulation students know what sounds they are working on and they write their own tallies to compare with mine. My students also know that I want them to learn and have fun in my classroom.
  • Multi-sensory- This is probably my favorite part of being an SLP. I love to do all kinds of wacky things and explore strategies to help my students learn as evident in many of my posts. My favorite thing is to use stuffed animals/puppets to bring basic concepts to life. I also love using songs/chants to help all of my students. You're never too cool for a catchy (yet goofy) tune. Will my students remember me after their "graduation" from elementary school? Probably not, but I know that there will be at least one random thing I did with them that they'll probably recall years from now.    
There's no rule that says we must make Common Core boring in our speech rooms. Learning should be fun for our students. 

Want some more information about the Common Core? Check out:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Turkey Talk. The emotions edition.

Some days, I just feel like this.......
If you saw me on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings, you would definitely have to agree with this statement. It's probably from the back-to-back groups. It could also be from having a group of 4 boys that like to squabble with each other over everything. The talk card system I put into place is finally starting to pay off just a little. It is amazing how well losing a sticker for the day stays with them. I had one lose two cards last week, but the thought of losing the third card was enough to end the poor choices. It's the small things in life that truly mean the most. Since my younger groups are wrapping up the tail ends of their friendship journals, it is time for me to introduce our emotions in-depth and how our choices impact others' feelings.

I saw this pumpkin emotions game on pinterest that I absolutely love. The only problem is the fact that I don't have access to any baby wipe containers. So I had to adjust the activity to use materials that are readily available to me.
Pumpkin Emotions Game
I used one sheet of yellow poster board, one sheet of white poster board (for the face parts), one black sharpie, three sheets of red, yellow, and orange construction paper, and two sheets of brown construction paper. I drew the turkey and feathers free-hand onto the construction paper. You could also try using a template from a google search or Mailbox magazine. I taped the feathers and turkey body to the yellow poster board and had it laminated with the face parts.

The end result didn't come out too bad. Plus, I can use the face parts with other seasonal character posters, such as Santa or a leprechaun. We will talk about our feelings using Mr. Turkey and hopefully add in some role-play situations before Thanksgiving.

I also found another version that doesn't require all of the little pieces. You can easily use a die-cut to make these little guys.

Happy crafting!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Facebook Freenzy Link Up

If you liked my list of freebies from Teachers Pay Teachers, here is another way to grab some great materials by SLP bloggers for free. It will only last for the weekend so make sure you check them out while you can!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Preparing for thanksgiving

Considering November is a rather short month due to the holiday break, one day of professional development, and benchmark testing, I have decided to start researching for fun freebies early. The finds on Teachers Pay Teachers have not been disappointing. There are so many good products on there if you can avoid getting bogged down by the sheer mass of products available. I typically use search restrictions to assist in making the list much more manageable.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My love of pinterest knows no bounds....

I'm a little bit off of my usual schedule this week. I blame a rushed weekend and the stress of being observed for the first time by a non-SLP. 

Observations by school administrators is another thing that they don't warn you about it graduate school. I think some districts handle it by sending out their lead SLP or EC director, but in my district I get observed by either the Principle or Vice Principle. I managed to be lucky enough to have one of my articulation groups during my observation time. Last week, I had to meet with the Vice Principle to explain what she would see and tell her about the three students that would be in my room. They definitely stayed true to their form. One stood up three times and the other kept trying to interrupt in the middle of drill. However, they were for the most part as good as gold. I was so proud of them for being well-behaved and producing awesome sounds. I like to give them a little something extra special when there are changes to our normal structure: applause! I found this big hand clapper in the workroom last year. I love the bright pink and how much this simple object means to my students.  

The second item of my post is proof that I can use Boardmaker. It just took me two years to figure out how to do it. I saw the idea for this bubble map at the Adventures of Room 83. I love this blog and highly recommend checking it out if you've never read it before.

I fell in love with the idea of an adjective bubble map as describing is an area where many of my students struggle. It doesn't matter if they are in kindergarten or 5th grade, I always end up talking about describing words at some point in the year. I can pair this visual with the Expanding Expression Tool or just use it on its own. The target item goes in the middle and then we'll write short phrases or words to go in each of the five surrounding circles.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Halloween creepiness part 2 with delightful "hands on" practice

It's been a "short" week of school. We had two days of professional development, which is both a blessing and a curse. I managed to do the following: get caught up on my Medicaid billing, made some more Super Duper product posters for my 3+ month of laminating fun, pulled out my Halloween books, attempted to draw pictures to use for sequencing with the Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat, and started up another pinterest inspired craft. This list may sound pretty funny to people who are just curious about the field or unfamiliar with the realm of school-based therapy but these things take more time than I care to think about. 

Luckily, most of my students came back with refreshed minds and happy hearts. It was good to be back in session with them. They helped me find a new Halloween favorite: The 13 Nights of Halloween. I picked this book up back in January of last year at Goodwill. The concept is very similar to the 12 Days of Christmas song. You have 13 nights of a tiny pink goblin gifting odd and creepy presents. We used the Expanding Expression Tool to talk about some of these gifts (ie. owls, vampires, witches) and then played an exciting round of cat-EAR-gories. 

I also introduced my syntax groups to my second Halloween DIY project: Gross Parts of Speech. I picked up the fingers from the Dollar Tree earlier this month. All it takes is a sharpie and 10 minutes of writing. Toss them into a mystery box and you are ready to go. 
I had a few students who were really grossed out at first, but they were begging for thumbs and pinkies by the end of the lesson.

My new favorite song of the moment......

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dollar Store Dash!

Today, I am linking up with Teach Speech 365's Dollar Store Dash linky. The concept is to spend $5 and come up with 3-5 activities for the items you purchased. I totally failed on the spending limit (grand total of $21 dollars); however, I am going to talk about the items that have the broadest range of activities.

Superhero figurines and animals
Teacher Tree sight word dice & card games 
So the 5 items that I purchased for the linky are Dollar Tree's safari/jungle animals. I picked up the rhinoceros, lion, antelope, elephant, and giraffe. They didn't have the tiger at my store.  

1) Safari animal vocabulary. I have several students with very low vocabularies this year. I love using figurines so they can have a 3-D image in their mind of what a lion looks like along with pictures from the internet or in video clips from National Geographic Kids. My students get to learn the names of the animals as well as actions that they do, like roar for lion.  
2) Following directions/positional concepts. I use stuffed animals to teach positional concepts; however, figurines work well for this task too. You can model moving the figurines around an empty tissue box or your students. Once they have grasped those concepts, it's time to work on directions by letting them move the animals around. 
3) Eliciting utterances. You can use these animals in pretend play to elicit utterances. I have several students working on 2-7 word utterances who are more comfortable talking in play activities. It makes them feel more comfortable and they open up in a way that you don't see in the classroom.
4) Routines. I have a few students that have to be coerced into joining groups. If holding the lion during book time gets them to sit with the rest of the group, I am perfectly happy to let that child have a figurine. The same for eliciting language/articulation. As long as it can motivate the child without becoming a distraction, why not?
So those are my $5 items. 

In other news, I finally wrote a goal bank for my middle school (6-8th) friends. It is for the language portion of the CCSS and is currently available to fans of my facebook page

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's time for some cat-EAR-gories.

I promised that I had a few spooky ideas for Halloween this year. This is the first of two DIY projects that I came up with for this year. I found the ears at the Dollar Tree and knew that I had to do something with them. My caseload is full of students with categorization goals and the gross factor is a huge motivator for the boys. 
 All I needed was a Sharpie and several packs of ears. It took about an hour to come up with the Halloween-related categories. (I'm a stickler for wanting my seasonal stuff to stay true to the season.)
My students have to name 3-4 items in the category based off of the ear they pull out of the witch's cauldron. You can throw Ned's Head game pieces in the mix to add the opportunity to target other goals via bonus points (or just say that they get another turn/lose a turn). 

Friday, October 4, 2013

I scream for great ideas....

I had all good intentions of writing another Halloween related post tonight. However, that just wasn't meant to be after spending another day in the trenches of Chipper Chat doom. I've spent every afternoon for the past 5 days trying to glue papers to poster boards so I can have cards. My room was covered in a huge pile of them when I left work yesterday (I'm sure the janitor loved trying to avoid stepping on them). 
 I'm guessing that I have two months worth of lamination right here since I can only laminate one poster a day. It will be worth it once all is said and done.
So in the meantime, here are some more cool links that deserve to be shared.
  1. Targeting Articulation:
    1. Blank Popcorn Words (can be used to target any number of things)
    2. Silly I-Pad Rules (made for several different sounds)
    3. Royal Speech (open-ended)
    4. Super Power (open-ended)
    5. Fall Harvest Articulation
  2. Targeting Grammar:
    1. Spooky Silly Sentences Grammar Skills (K-3)
    2. Spooky Sentence Building (K-1)
    3. Fun Wednesday Camel Alphabet and Sight Word Cards (K-1) 
    4. Spider Word Sort (Verbs and Adjectives)
    5. Candy Corn Sentences for Word Work (3-5)
  3. Targeting Vocabulary:
    1. Defining and describing sticks (DIY)
  4. Targeting Phonological Awareness:
    1. Phonics segmenting flashcards (link takes you to short O, but there are others available)
  5. Targeting Following Directions:
    1. Halloween Following Temporal Directions
  6. Targeting Sequencing:
    1. Trick or Treat Sequencing
  7. Targeting Social Skills: 
    1. Pumpkin Emotions DIY
    2. Don't Touch (social story)
  8. Targeting Pediatric Dysphagia 
    1. Hierarchy of Sensory Exposure for Feeding Therapy
  9. Miscellaneous 
    1. Why do kids come to Speech? (handouts)
    2. Environmental Print Cards
    3. Push-In Handout 
    4. Sight Words in a Bottle
    5. Speech Therapy Certificates
    6. Coming to Speech Song

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble

I love Halloween. There's no real rhyme or reason to why I love the spookiest holiday out there when I'm a total chicken who screams at the sight of even the smallest of the small spiders. The only Halloween movie I'll watch without wimping out is Double, Double, Toil and Trouble featuring the Olson twins.

I have several fun things to share with you this month, but I thought I would kick it off with an idea born from Walmart. 

I found these little zombies in the big bins of Halloween party goods. I couldn't resist buying three packs (of 4) for .97 cents each. I blame liking creepy finger puppets on my grandmother. She always had a supply of them (aliens) when I was younger. It brought back lots of pleasant childhood memories, which is one of my rules of thumb when shopping for therapy supplies. Children can still find wonder in these tiny little objects even if we do spend more time waving I-pads and computers in their faces rather than actual toys. The zombies will serve mostly as a reinforcer for the younger groups, but my older students will have to earn them in a more game-like approach. 

I created a short file called, Zombies Among Us, which focuses on syntax. It's black and white so my students can color the zombie face for the correct part of speech using Colorful Semantics. We're focusing on nouns, verbs, and adjectives so the color choice is limited to orange, yellow, and purple.  I also threw in some describing tasks in the hopes of getting them to spark up conversations with each other. They earn a zombie for every 3-5 cards they complete. I plan on letting them swap a task card by giving up a zombie in the hopes of avoiding the terrible "I don't know." 

If you are daring enough to witness my artistic capabilities with the zombie images, you can download the freebie here.