Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm drowning in picture cards.

 The one bad thing about being a fan of homemade materials.....

I have a million picture cards to cut out, glue to construction paper, 
cut out again, laminate, and cut out again.

I think I may have finally met my match in making these colorful semantics cards. 
I'm drowning in a sea of colorful construction paper.

What was I thinking?!?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Inclusion Files: Adventures in Math Vocabulary

Let me just start everyone off with a warning, I am definitely one of those people who went into Speech-Language Pathology precisely because I'm not a huge fan of math. I love chronological age calculators (any calculator really), tally marks, and simple percentages. 

So, without further adieu, welcome to a brief crash course introduction to Common Core Math through the eyes of an SLP.

There are lots of blocks and they go everywhere. (I recommend walking very carefully.)

These lovely blue (and sometimes wooden) blocks are base ten pieces. I admit that I do like these little blocks as they are a great visual and tactile cue. My students don't have to draw a million circles, sticks, dots, squares, count all their fingers and toes, etc to count out each number. They just grab X of whatever manipulative that represents that placement. What I don't like are the names for these blocks. "Blocks" (thousands), "flats" (hundreds), "skinnies/rods" (tens), and "bits" (ones)....even if it does sort of describe the way they look. Mostly, I find it frustrating because I have to call them one name here and another name there. It's confusing for me and I'd imagine that the students get confused too. Consistency is key

They also get to learn how to draw this really spiffy chart to use with the base ten pieces. They can write the number and then draw it in base ten form to solve equations. It's another great visual. The only bad part is when the students have to take all of this stuff and turn it into "expanded/extended form".

To me, writing in expanded form is basically writing what you put in the graphic organizer again. Some students get really frustrated with having to write all of this out as they know it's already there. They may even glare daggers at you.

And, "carrying over/regrouping"....The more I think about it, the less I want to say about this particular topic.

Math is a great time to work on following directions, initiating interactions and responding, and vocabulary. It just takes time, a dash of ingenuity, and very patient teachers who can put up with a million questions after their students go home. (And, my favorite lessons are the ones that involve least and greatest.) 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Setting Up Expectations: My goal of the week.

Each and every school year, I find myself trying out a new way to teach my speech room expectations. I consider the success or failure of the new method for the rest of the school year. Everyone has their own style so I thought I would share my idea for this year in case it might help someone else with a more reserved/laid-back demeanor. 

1) The Rules. 
I follow the "K.I.S.S." (Keep it simple stupid) method to rules. I never liked listening to teachers talk on and on and on about their rules (nor when professors harped on the syllabus for this, that, and the other). I don't expect my students to listen to a five-ten minute lecture either. Every year I have the same basic expectations:
      1. Be kind to others. 
      2. Try. Mistakes are just proof that we're learning.
      3. Don't say the word game.
      4. Clean up at the end. 
I may have to add something about "copying" each other to the list. However, these four basic expectations usually cover a wide range of issues.

2) The Book. 
Last year, our school leadership team gave everyone a copy of the "Have you filled a bucket" book. I'm pretty sure this is an educator's best seller. I used it at the end of the year with a few new students and now they are all getting to listen to it again. (And, it's likely the second time of the year for most of them already.) Studies show that we retain information better after multiple repetitions. I used a youtube video to make the story seem more like a movie. 

I think this book does a wonderful job of teaching students about respect. I also like the vocabulary-- we talked quite a bit about what invisible means last week.

3) Review. 
This week I am reviewing the concepts from the book. For my older students, we are filling out a bucket and a "dipper" with the different character traits. (Our third graders are learning all about character traits so the timing couldn't be more perfect.) My younger students are completing their bucket filling task with our favorite bear, Teddy Talker!

Another lesson I recently learned:
Teddy is a great model for tongue depressors when you have a student who is very wary of tactile cues.
I made a quick packet of good and bad behavior cards to sort. My students have to teach Teddy what a good bear friend would do whenever they come across a bad bee card. If they get a honey drop card, they simply get to stick it in Teddy's bucket. 

I was lucky enough to find this honey bucket over the summer for .25 cents!
It makes the perfect "invisible" bucket for Teddy!
I decided to make some extra non-Teddy cards in case my older friends need an extra review at some point. They can make up their own examples along with using the ones I created. 

If you would like a copy of this activity, click here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To what's new and old

The first week of therapy always brings some interesting thoughts. I think this year is even more interesting with my district's huge push towards inclusion. In many ways, I feel like a CF all over again because of these changes and I know that I am not certainly not alone. So here are a few things about this past week.....

1. So far the teachers either have 1) no idea what to do with me in their room; 2) think I'm there to observe because they didn't look at the schedule I sent out; 3) only know that I work on speech sounds. 4) tell me to do whatever I need to.
Obviously, I will be presenting again on what Speech-Language Pathologists do and it will be at a staff meeting rather than a district PD conference.

2. I absolutely love pushing into the 3rd grade social studies/science block. I think those blocks may actually turn out to be better than literacy (and definitely better than math). Art is also another interesting option for push-in. 

3. Data tracking for inclusion is the pits. I am using post-it notes and sticking them to a little book that contains the goals of all of my inclusion students. It works alright for the most part. I can stick these on the goal page sheets and add to them later in the day when I have time. However, I think it has diminished the quality of my notes considerably. 

4. I cannot seem to figure out the new school schedule. I show up to classrooms when children are supposed to be there....and they're still at specials or outside or at lunch, etc....I guess we are all still a little confused on that one. 

5. Thanks to google docs, I finally have access to all of the lesson plans for each grade level/week. I'm still figuring out what some of the lingo means, but I am glad to finally have a rudimentary idea of what is going on. 

6. I love my articulation groups.

7. All of the things that I am learning right now will make me a better clinician for years to come. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sports, sports, sports

It's been almost a month since I've truly had the opportunity to plan out a new activity for my students. Sports seemed like a natural choice with the recent start of our local high school and middle schools football season. It's also a great way to encourage younger siblings to be proud of their brothers and sisters for choosing to live an active lifestyle. 

I'm really excited about this activity as it can easily be combined with books or short reading passages. I started off with basic vocabulary lists for football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and general sports terms. Next, you have some basic questions for each of the four sports. I have included blank cards so you can write more story-specific cards as you need. I know I will be making up more questions as soon as I get my library books.

I also created a few pages of sports idiom cards that I commonly use in my own life for older groups. Each idiom has a definition and an example. You can look up other sports related idioms and have your students make their own set of cards for their favorite ones.

For my younger students, I decided to make a mobile activity so they could share why they like a specific sport. All you will need is a hole punch and a few pieces of string for each student. I used soccer as my example since that is probably what most of my students will pick.

Grab your copy of Sports, of course! here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Life lately and my little pony

It's been a rather hectic two weeks around here. We have been doing "tag-team" hearing screenings at all of the elementary schools, middle schools, and high school in my district. It's a great way to get the screenings done, but I have collapsed on the couch every afternoon. So I am a little late in sharing one of my newest thrift store finds....

My Little Pony

Why are these little horses such a great too for therapy? Well, let me count the ways....

1) The variety of colors and designs. This makes them the perfect item for picking out which one doesn't belong. I would start out by using color comparisons until your students start noticing the little side tattoos. (I guess those are tattoos?)

2) The different sizes. This makes them perfect for comparisons and following directions based on size.
3) The different types of ponies. Unicorns, regular ponies, and Pegasus all equal another great opportunity to target similarities and differences. (Point to the one that doesn't belong. Why doesn't that pony belong?)
4) They are durable. I was rough on mine as a child, but I never managed to break one. This makes them a therapy jack-pot material to me. (Unfortunately, all of my old ones were sold at a yard sale. I totally had a blue one like the picture below.)
5) Use them in free play to encourage spontaneous language.

6) Use them to teach positional concepts. You could make a little "barn" using a red box or a piece of cardboard as a fence.

6) They appeal to our female students!!! I know we are all used to serving many boys, but we have to have a few materials that girls will appreciate.