Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Social Thinking and Inclusion Part 2

I posted back in October about the Social Thinking lessons I used with the "You're a Social Detective" book. I thought it might be helpful to post about what I've used so far with the Superflex series.

We are slowly working our way through "Superflex takes on Rock Brain and the Unthinkables" and the teaching manual.

Starting Out:
First, I decided to add some additional lessons on our "Smart Guess Tools" because most of the classes really struggled to provide much information in each section. I modeled it for them using their ideas and explained that all of the writing I did were things that they told me. We watched the majority of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! For students who don't celebrate Halloween, I picked You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown.  I picked these videos because the cartoon drawings force the students to pay more attention to the characters than some of the Pixar.

The first two actual Superflex lessons consisted of reading the book to the class using the wonderful document cameras. We talked about things that we saw. We used the handouts in the manual to talk about things that are flexible/unflexible thinking. I also gave each student a mini-poster of Rock Brain for their notebooks.

Rock Brain Videos:
Smart Guess Handout (scroll to the end section for the chart with the smart guess tools). They complete this diagram for each video clip that I show them.
1. I think the Pixar Glued video is pretty self-explanatory.

Brain Function:
If you can get a copy of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, I would start with this book as it talks about the different areas of the brain and their roles.

1. I show the first 5 or so minutes of Bill Nye the Science Guy's brain episode. The kids seem to enjoy it and I like the different little segments.

After watching this video, I used the smartboard to talk about the brain's functions in three different categories: physical movement, social smarts, and school smarts. I make it a point to tell them that some jobs can be in more than one of these categories.

2. Opening Scene of Inside Out- This way we can briefly talk about our memory and emotions

We then create a giant poster of the brain and list some of the functions that fall into each of the three categories that we learned about the session before. (I'll try to upload some photos of these soon.)

Superflexible Strategies:
For the next set of lessons, I used the cartoons in the Appendix of the teaching manual. These depict the 6 Superflexible Strategies that defeat Rock Brain. I have the students help me re-write these strategies in their own words so that they have a copy in their notebooks. We are now talking about how the characters in the videos could have used these strategies.

1. Dug's Special Mission- Mean Jean & Rock Brain
2. Bugs Bunny: Chessmaster- Mean Jean, Rock Brain, Destroyer of Fun
3. Stuck on an Escalator- Size of the Problem, Rock Brain.
4. Taking Turns Speaking- Staying on Topic/taking turns, Rock Brain
5. Making Connected Comments- Staying on Topic/taking turns, Rock Brain, & Topictwistmister
6. Joining a Conversation Unexpected and Joining a Conversation Expected- Mean Jean, Topic twistmister, Blurt Out Blue, Collider
7. Starting an Individual Conversation Unexpected and Starting an Individual Conversation Expected- Rock Brain, Mean Jean
8. Swamp Talk with Shrek and Donkey: Interrupting Donkey and Swamp Talk with Shrek and Donkey: Sorry Not Sorry- Blurt Out Blue, Collider, Glassman, Mean Jean, Size of the Problem, and Interrupting
9. The Full Meltdown- Glassman, Mean Jean, Rock Brain, Size of the Problem

Review Practice Videos
1. Back to School Bus Safety- Using smart guess tools/making predictions and identifying Unthinkables
2. Fast Food- Using smart guess tools and identifying Unthinkables

Extra Videos that Might Be Helpful

1. Two-way Conversations: Asking Open Ended Questions
2. Appropriate Two-way Conversations
3. Two-way Conversations- Don't Be a Broken Record
4. Don't Be a Conversation Hog
5. Two-way Conversations- Volume Control

Think before you speak
1. Social Skills video- Think it, don't say it

Monday, December 12, 2016

Multiple Meaning Words with a Twist

I guess the only thing consistent about my blogging right now is my inconsistency. Life is never dull in my neck of the woods. I have several family issues going on right now and I've found it easier to deal with if I leave speech at the doors of my school every day. It's become all the more important after a recent hike in caseload numbers that have pushed me above the state cap. (NC has a caseload cap of 50.) 

While I haven't made too many materials lately, I thought that this one is just too good not to share for those of you with older students. I made this for my fifth grade groups as it's a pretty quick game that I can take into their classrooms. 

Multiple Meaning Word KaBoom!

If you haven't run across any teachers in your school using this, you are likely to start a new trend at your school. KaBoom is a great game that I saw teachers using in their centers. You can make a KaBoom game for pretty much anything you might need. The best part is that the game NEVER ends.

How to Play Kaboom!
1.  First student pulls out a card.
2.  The student tells you an answer. If their answer is correct, they get to keep the card.  If they answer it incorrectly, the card must go back in the cup.
3.  The students continue around the table, selecting one card at a time and answering their question.
4.  Any student who pulls a KABOOM! card has to place all of the cards they have accumulated back into the cup, leaving them with zero.

5.  This game NEVER ENDS because eventually someone will get a Kaboom! and their cards will go back into the cup to keep the game going.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Social Thinking and Inclusion

Sick days are never fun, but they are terribly bad when you have a restless brain. So I thought I would share a little bit of what I'm doing in four classrooms. Co-Teaching Time! (Yes, I am crazy. I've never co-taught before and somehow I'm now doing it in four classrooms.)

I'm using the Social Thinking Curriculum to address multiple goals in the classroom. How? I co-teach during writing blocks. Every day I go into the classroom, I incorporate a writing task into what we are learning about with the books. We're just wrapping up the Social Detective portion of the lessons.

Writing Targets:
What are your smarts? (I passed out a little brain diagram that I traced from the book for this)
What is something expected that you've done recently? How did the person/people around you react?
What is something unexpected that you've done? How could you change it into something expected?
What is something you want people to use their social smarts to know about you?

Social Detective print outs for Notebooks
1. Social Detective Vocabulary
2. Expected vs. Unexpected Handout

Video Activities for writing
1. Smart Guess Handout (scroll to the end section for the chart with the smart guess tools). They complete this diagram for each video clip that I show them.
1. For the Birds
2. Mike's New Car
3. Toy Story Toon- Small Fry
4. Air Mater

Once we finish looking at the video clips with our smart guess tools, it will be time to jump into the Superflex series. I've got a few things in mind already to go along with the main program....

SuperFlex print outs for Notebooks
I'm a Flexible Thinker

1. Social Detective Scavenger Hunt

1. Group Plan vs. Own Plan
2. Talking vs. Thinking Bubbles

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lemons and crash course lessons in kidney stones

Being a caregiver doesn't leave me with much time for blogging, especially with the kidney stone battle. My poor grandmother has passed a kidney stone about every other week since her first one in late July. I've learned more about kidney stones in the past two months than I ever cared to know.

SLP friends.,....lemons are your best protection from kidney stones. Eat them, drink water with lemon juice, and avoid tea. When they say that kidney stones are painful, they are not kidding. It's really hard to watch someone suffering from them too and not be able to do a darn thing about it. (Although, they say that roller coasters can help.)

In other news, I have recently found a great oldie resource for those of you that need quick activities for drilling. It's called Practical Language Activities from ECL Publications. I've been using it for grammar practice with some of my older students for push-in therapy. It's a quick way to work directly on skills without needing to haul a bunch of stuff around.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Keeping it simple

I wanted to share just a few pictures of my completely finished room set-up for this year. I'm going with the keep-it-simple motto this year since I'll mostly be going into classrooms. 

I've hidden away all of my games in the closet. Hehehehehe.....

Articulation/craft area.

Language area

Sunday, August 21, 2016

/R/ You Ready?

I'm not quite sure how it happened....but this week will be my first full back at work. I would like to say that I'm bursting full of creative ideas for my room, but my brain has been pretty much focused on watching the summer Olympics and Chopped re-runs. Hehe.....I'm glad that I have this week to figure out my door decoration. 

It's empty, but it's my old "home" so to speak. I will be doing a large part of my day through inclusion so I'm not bringing as much stuff as I used to have in there. It will be much less distracting for assessments with just bookcases of notebooks and my TPT cards/card decks hidden away in the purple bins. My manipulative boxes and few games will be hidden away in the closet when not in use. 

I've been racking my brain for a little while on how to better serve my students in the inclusion setting. I'm really excited to try the Story Grammar Marker & Braidy that I bought back in April. I think that will help with many of my language groups. I will also be using the EET as always. However, I also have to figure out articulation beyond using Teddy Talker for my k-1 crowd. I prefer to do pull-out for students in the beginning process of therapy, but I want something that the teacher can see/reinforce after the sessions. I like the thought of interactive notebooks because it essentially makes a product of the student's growth. Plus, it's something that they can take pride in showing off. 

This Speech Sound Book is for /r/. I included a table of contents to make everything relatively easy to find. 

There's a word list because it always helps to have an idea of things to practice beyond the task cards I've made. 

There are practice cards and several different activity pages for the sound in all positions. 

My favorite part is letting the students track their own growth with this chart. You can print as many as you need and add them to the end of the notebook after each chart is complete. 

So if you want to test it out along with me, you can grab a copy of My /R/ Speech Sound Book here. (Please note that this is very much a trial and error project. I don't know that I will make anymore of these unless it goes well for my students.) 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Preparing for back to school

Today is the last day in July. It makes me feel a little sad in one way and really excited in another. I'll be going back to the school district and the elementary school where I started out. I'm excited for the new and the old. I'm also a tiny bit nervous because they are implementing a dual language program. It will start this year in two kindergarten classrooms and expand over the course of the next several years to each grade level. These classrooms will have half of their instruction in Spanish. It will be a challenge for me to figure out how to work with this and with the push for inclusion that has continued to grow while I was away. I've been trying to research some, but I really haven't found much to help me with the dual language aspect. It's just going to be a big learning process for us all.

In the meantime, I decided to go ahead and start thinking about how I want to get the new school year started. Bucket Filling is always a key part to my initial lessons as it helps to explain why we have rules in speech (although not too many). I also like to do a "get to know you" activity too. I hang these up in my room for the first few weeks of school. I'm really excited about the ones I found this year. It'll be a nice change from the superhero sheet that I've used for the past four years.

Here is a list of some freebies that I've found and will be incorporating into my plans:

"All About Me"
  1. All About Me Booklet. 
  2. All About Me Page or a slightly more grown-up version here for middle school 
    1. All About Me Spanish Page
  3. Student Goal Page
  4. Icebreakers
  5. What I Didn't Do on My Vacation (very cute)
Bucket Filler Activities
  1. Sorting Page
  2. Word Search
  3. Bucket Filler Incentive Chart
  4. Bucket Filler Wall
  1. Back to School Backback craft. I love this cute craft for students. It's something that they will want to show off to their parents and teachers. 
  1. Back to School Grammar Baseline
  2. Self-checking pronoun cards. I really like the photos in this one. 
  3. Back to School Verbs
  4. Flip It! Back to School Themed Following Directions Activity.
  5. BTS Cariboo
  1. BTS Get to know me/summer vacation fluency tower

Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding my way back....

These last three months have been some of the hardest in my life since my sophomore year in college when my father nearly died in a car accident. I feel like I've been through hell and back.

But.....I am stronger for it.....

With the love of my life supporting me (can't believe we've been married a year now)
With our dogs to keep me busy as always 
With my family's help 
With a new diet to undo the damage of the last three months (got in trouble with my cholesterol)
With a new job far away from the cause of all of this

All I can say is that I am not meant for a life of permanent upheaval. I also think all those websites that claim to have tips for family members of people struggling with mental illnesses do not fully grasp just how bad it can be. It is not a world of sunshine and rainbows. It is a very lonely and scary place. A place that I will no longer be trapped in. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Buzzing with Analogies

Summer is finally here! I'm so excited for the much needed break. This past school year has been one of the biggest challenges thus far in my career. I moved, got married, started a new job, and got three puppies all in one fell swoop. Yet, I managed to survive all of these changes and learned that I'm able to cope better than I thought I could. 

Looking back on the school year made me want to make a product with yellow jackets. It's the school mascot of the elementary school. I'm thankful for all the things I learned this year and what better way to say "thank you." So Buzzing with Analogies was born.....

This activity is a simple set of cards for analogy practice. Your students simply fill in the missing word. 

You can grab your copy of Buzzing with Analogies here.

Have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Because I am always amazed.....

I am someone who absolutely loves to learn for the sake of learning. I want to grow and I was not disappointed by the experiences I had at this year's NCSHLA's spring conference. It was wonderful. 

What did I attend?
  • Visual Immersion System: Communication Enhancement for Autism Spectrum Disorders by Howard Shane
  • School-Aged Stuttering: A Practical Approach by J. Scott Yaruss
  • Don't Worry, Be App-y by Kimberly Lewis
  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech: A Multi-Sensory Approach to Achieving Speech Outcomes by David Hammer
  • How to Make a Cold Retelling Hot with Story Grammar Marker by Maryellen Rooney Moreau 
One of the best tips I learned came from Mr. Hammer's session. It's so simple that it makes you want to take a step back and say "well, duh!" or "Why didn't I think of that sooner?". He told us that he uses a piece of string (ribbon or shoelaces work well too) with a bead on the end to help students working on final consonant deletion. It gives them a multi-sensory reminder to put that sound on the end. They hold out the vowel as they slide their hand down to the bead/final consonant. I've been using this trick and it has made a real difference for my students.

I was also very impressed with Dr. Shane's idea of video modeling clips for students. He shows his clients little video clips of what he wants them to do with little manipulatives (like a little doll going up a ladder) instead of relying on live clinician models. Some students really respond better to this. While I don't have any students that I can try this with right now, I am definitely going to save this idea for my bag of tricks. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

It's a peacock invasion

I'm not quite sure why, but for some reason I always seem to end up getting several new girls on my caseload at the end of every year. The Peacock Princess activity is a mixture of several different targets that adds much needed variety to all of the more masculine-themed products. It includes alphabet matching (upper & lower case letters with diagraphs included)/phonemic awareness if you chose to print out more than one set of the letters; past & present tense verb agreement; pronouns with a sorting mat; naming; and a few cards for articulation review. 

I love that this is still one of my go-to materials even though I created it several years ago. You just never know what will stick around and what you'll find doesn't work as well as you hoped.

You can grab your copy here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Think Green!

April is one of my favorite months of the year. There are tiny little wildflowers hiding in the grass and the sweet songs of birds float through the air. It's the perfect time to remember that we have so much beauty surrounding us if we just take the time to notice the small things. It's also a beauty that we must protect. 

So beauty, inspiration, music.......It all led me to create a simple mobile craft activity for Earth Day. I recommend watching a brief video on recycling before you start this craft. My current favorite is a clip from Reading Rainbow that shows what happens to recyclables once they reach the recycling plant. There are quite a few good ones out there though.  

Once you have watched your video, it's time to talk about the "Three R's". Students get to write about what they can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle on one side. The other side is blank so you can have them draw a picture of what the action looks like once they cut the shape out.

The top and bottom of the mobile have small recycling related pictures for them to color as they would like.

Grab your copy of this Earth Day craft here

Monday, March 28, 2016

Conversational Skills Superheroes

If it hasn't become obvious by now, I am really loving Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking materials this year. My students love it too! 

I've recently started adding in some conversational skills activities into several of my groups. I wanted to tie Superflex into this so the students have a constant reminder to use their social toolbox. Even though we have really taken our time with the basics, I think it is always helpful to have a reminder when you are branching out. As you can see, the activity we ended up doing took a little bit of time and creativity on my part.

I made four posters featuring Aiden, We have an expected and unexpected poster for both conversational roles. The unexpected listener is frowning because he's really not sure what is going on. The unexpected speaker is so busy talking about HIS interests that he forgets all about his listener. The expected speaker and listener are both happy to be participating in the conversation.

I wrote down different expected and unexpected behaviors for my students to put on the posters. The hardest part was getting them to pay attention to the key words (listener/speaker).

The sort took us about 15 minutes to go through.

Next time, I need to make more cards for the listener. I really felt like I had more made until we finished the sort.

My follow up activities are pretty simple. We'll review the post-it posters and design our own mini posters on construction paper. I chose the red and green to contrast the expected vs. unexpected roles of each person. I drew Aiden on the bottom of my posters and my students will draw their own version on the bottom of their posters.

Once they have made their posters, I will have my students come up with their own expected vs. unexpected behavior sort using the green and "red" (pink) post-its. We'll sort these out on the big posters again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here's a Blast from the Past

Now that I am finally getting to start Superflex Takes on Rock Brain & the Unthinkables, I am also dusting off one of my favorite creations from the past, Conversation Junction. Why? I think it correlates pretty well with several of the Unthinkables and the continuation of expected vs. unexpected behaviors. I'm starting with what's expected and then we will work on more scenarios, videos, and role-plays of conversation skills. They will have their book to help them remember the expected behaviors through all of these activities. While this activity is more geared towards upper elementary, it can be modified for first and second grades if needed. 

In this booklet, students write about what a conversation is and the role of a speaker/listener. They learn the parts of being a good speaker and listener. They also learn about personal space as it relates to conversations. 

Grab your copy of Conversation Junction here.

P.S. I wish all of you the best during IEP overload season! Summer is coming, I promise, it is closer than you think.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Social Skills Round 2

While my husband enjoyed the Superbowl (sort of--his team lost), the dogs and I thought up new ideas for my social skills group. We decided that football games are a good time to reminisce about the good old days when I did inclusion groups last year. Some memories were good and some were not quite as great....

But what a great way to to talk about what we are expected to do in the classroom! Students see things like these actions all the time in classrooms and they leave a HUGE impression. I imagine some may see worse and some may see better depending on the make-up of the classroom. 

I hope you will find these scenarios to be another helpful addition to your social skills toolbox!

You can grab your copy of Classroom Social Skills here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Buyer Beware

Don't you just love it when something breaks after the 30 day return policy? I know that I sure do.....

I bought an extra EET strand from Northern Speech Services during their Christmas sale. I have used it all of three times since I bought it on 12/18 and the plastic balls are crumbling. I haven't let my students touch it. I haven't banged it on any tables or dropped it on the floor. Yet, I can see little white lines on every single plastic ball.....and today the "where" ball split at the top. So out comes the hot glue to put it back together as well as secure the little end piece that fell off yesterday. 

I think I am justified in warning all of you readers considering I put the one at my previous school through the works without any damage. Either Northern Speech gets all of the crappy extras or the company selling the EET has started using a cheaper materials. Buyer Beware.

If I could send this $30-some dollar piece of crap back, I would do it in a heartbeat. This is exactly why I am very picky about the materials I buy in the first place. It has to be able to stand up to children. You can't even look at this thing without it falling to pieces. 

Clearly my students are going to love playing with the dried glue more than listening to me now.
The first one to go....but not the last.
You can see the white line on the Pink Parts ball is at the bottom. I'm going to assume it too will break soon.
I kept falling off during the middle of a session.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade because sometimes the situation just is what it least that has been my motto to some degree this year. Not because of my job--- my job is often the cure for the craziness that is family (mostly on one side). It's my refuge during the day and my little puppy family is my refuge at night. So I apologize to you for not being consistent in blogging. I don't like to get very personal on here so all I will say is that we are starting to look for a house or an apartment to give me a buffer from some very unneeded stress. We've also booked our one-year anniversary trip back to Disney! I cannot wait to get back to the Magic Kingdom and enjoy some carefree time. 

In the meantime, I thought I would share some pictures of things around my room that I love. Things that make me smile when no one else is around. 

My weekly EETchy bulletin board. We haven't gone through all of the strands yet, but I think it's important for them to see how it's going to eventually progress. Each session, we do one card together on my whiteboard and we put Thursday's card on display.

One of my fall thrift store finds. This desk divider was $20 at a local thrift shop that funds programs for men recovering from substance abuse. I walked away from it until I saw that they're over $100 on Amazon. I have word lists for all of my most frequently taught sounds and then I taped some names that I can use for phrases or sentences. The word lists are all free on TPT:

1. Articulation Word Lists for 15 Sounds
2.Free Phoneme Word Lists
3.Vocalic R Word List

Lastly, one of my summer thrift store finds. My best guess is that it's supposed to be a purse organizer. It has some little loops to hook on to something. I bought it knowing that it looked like something I could put homemade cards or craft supplies in. I ended up using it for phrase strips, calendar pieces, and a few of my hand-made social skills materials.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Seeing hearts?

As the weather turns colder (and snow finally decides to hit), I am looking towards the end of winter. I think this time of the year is hard in a way that can come as a surprise. IEPs are manageable and the assessment frenzy is still a little bit off in the distance. It's just the thinking process that starts now. The knowing that in a few months I will be sending students off to middle school or elementary school with goals that someone else has to use. Will they understand why I did things the way I did? Or will they think that my goals are terrible? I know that I was certainly guilty of not liking the way things were written by one of the SLPs who left my school last year. 

It brings me back to my social skills groups. Thinking about how other people perceive you is hard. Yet, we have to do it all the time. So why not get a head start on one of the trickiest holidays of all?

Take Heart! is a simple social skills activity to identify which action is an expected/unexpected behavior. When they pull out an unexpected behavior, students can use their predicting skills to come up with possible outcomes. They can also tell you a way to fix the unexpected behavior.

You can grab your free copy of Take Heart here!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

It's a new year and that brings new adventures....

One thing that I have done differently this school year, is to work more on basic social skills in the cafeteria. I will be the first to admit that I was a little naive when I started out with my lunch bunch. I had never needed to do one at my previous school. However, going in there has really opened my eyes to how my students function outside of my speech room. Sometimes it is a really rewarding experience and other times I realize how little of a week's lesson actually paid off. 

For the first freebie of 2016, I thought I would share a little social story that I had to create recently to address some unpleasant habits that occur because of the reactions they get. 

The challenge in sharing this activity is the pictures. You will need to use your own images as I used a combination of magazine pictures and google images. However, you don't have to write the story! 

The story targets the following:
- Eating with a closed mouth
- Spitting out food
-Following the class routine 

Grab your copy of Don't Be a Yucky Eater here